Safeguarding a group of young persons is the act of ensuring that they have the opportunity to achieve their true potential whilst having the right to be protected from abuse neglect or exploitation from anyone including family, friends and any professionals working with them.
The enemy of safeguarding is fear, and, unfortunately, fear runs rampant in our society today. It runs rampant not because the world is truly more dangerous than it was in the past, but because we as a society have generated dangerous myths about dangers. We are afraid bad things might happen if we don’t guard children constantly. We are also afraid what others might say if they see that we are not guarding, pushing, and pulling our children in all the ways that society says we should.
The teacher’s burden of supervision, without stifling children’s freedom on school outings, is a constant challenge in public places. In recognition of this Kembu have developed a Field Centre that is set in its own secure compound. It consists of a spacious hall equipped with long tables and benches, a classroom, an outdoor amphitheatre, a student’s toilet and shower block, a staff toilet. All this in a beautifully manicured setting.
At Kembu we believe that play, to be safe, must be free play, not coerced, managed, or pushed by adults. Children are highly motivated to play in risky ways, but they are also very good at knowing their own capacities and avoiding risks they are not ready to take, either physically or emotionally. Children know far better than we do what they are ready for. When adults pressure children to take risks they aren’t ready for, the result may be trauma, not thrill. It is a fine line for the outdoor experiential educator to tread, but the aim is to give skills and experiences that might enable youngsters to embrace the freedom we try to give them in a responsible way.