24 March 2021
“I am Zack, a member of the youth board at London Youth. Nature as a whole has always had, and continues to have, a great impact on me. As you can imagine, I volunteer at a Surrey Docks Farm! One of the many disadvantages that the COVID-19 pandemic presented is that opportunities to go out and explore woodland areas became extremely sparse, as a result of various restrictions being implemented, in an attempt to flatten the rate of infection. So it was certainly a difficult time for me. However, it seems like the saying that “every cloud has a silver lining”, has some truth to it in the sense that I am now even more appreciative of the outdoors and more aware of the huge impact that it has on my mental health and wellbeing.
Being cooped up at home wasn’t fun. You tire from running out of things to occupy yourself with, whilst grimacing at the thought of online school the next day. The outdoors is a place where I can be in my thoughts without any distractions. So as you can imagine, going from being in a situation where I would spend much of my time outside in various parks and woodland areas, to being thrust indoors with no escape in sight, I found it close to impossible to acclimate.
With the constant fear of upcoming exams and reports, I definitely felt like my stresses were accumulating quickly. As a consequence of not being able to go outdoors, I didn’t really have an outlet for all of these stored emotions and subsequently really struggled. This is why I believe that it’s ever so important that we are exposed to the benefits of being in outdoor, woodland environments. As we become older and approach adulthood, we are constantly being bombarded with a sea of information, whether that be from school, college or your workplace, and the great outdoors is one of the few places I feel I can momentarily disconnect from the struggles of everyday life and have some time alone to reflect on myself.
Although I haven’t personally been able to go on a residential trip offered by London Youth, both as a result of me being a new member of London Youth’s Youth Board, combined with the logistical difficulties caused by the pandemic, I have been made fully aware of the invaluable experiences that both Woodrow and Hindleap provide. They provide an introduction to the huge mental and physical health benefits of spending time in the great outdoors that I hope many decide to pursue, and I must say that I am itching to be able to go on one of these residentials myself!”
Written by Zack, London Youth – Youth Board Member
Banner photo credit @jsphotographyd33