Whitwell Hall Country Centre can offer school groups a variety of activities, whether the group is camping or staying in the Hall. The activities on offer are listed below with the duration of each listed next to them. A few of the activities have a small charge for them, these are listed.
Depending on the duration of stay and other groups on site, the number and choice of activities on offer to each group may vary, however every effort will be made to accommodate your group and choice of activities.
- Nature Walk (2 hours can be longer with prior arrangement) – Walk around Whitwell Estate to discover some of the wildlife that is living there. This activity can be based around any part of the natural environment that your group wishes to concentrate on. Some suggested themes are 1. Trees, 2. Birds, 3. Green Plants, 4. Invertebrates and 5. Mammals. We also have a red squirrel captive breeding enclosure that can effectively illustrate an endangered species theme. A general nature walk can touch briefly on all these subjects. The emphasis of the walk is on groups interacting with the countryside and increasing their knowledge of the natural world around them looking at topics such as species, the way certain animals hunt and the usable items that nature can offer us. With lots of questions and group participation.
- Bat Walk (1-2 hours) – This walk is concentrated on finding the bats that live and hunt on the estate. Groups have the opportunity to use and experience an electronic bat detector and the biology of these fascinating mammals is explained in a fun and digestible manner. Other nocturnal and diurnal animals and birds may also be encountered. With lots of questions and group participation.
- Shelter Building (1 ½ hours) – This activity introduces participants to the principles of living and surviving in a wild environment. There are many components that can be explored depending on age and ability. Groups can develop knowledge of types of shelters, design and use of materials, working in smaller groups to develop their ideas into the real thing. Following construction, but before the waterproof test, each group are given the opportunity to discuss their shelter. By following set guidelines, groups will learn self discipline, awareness, cooperation and works to build confidence. This activity follows the principles of our patron Ray Mears.
- Fire Lighting (varies on group size) – This activity introduces participants to the principles of successfully creating a small cooking fire. We explore all principles of how to prepare, set and light a fire successfully. By following set guidelines, groups will learn self discipline, awareness, cooperation, safety aspects and works to build confidence. This activity follows the principles of our patron Ray Mears.
- Tracking (1 hour) – Learn the signs and symbols that can be made from natural materials to leave a trail for others to follow through the woods at Whitwell. Participants will learn the most common symbols and then follow a trail designed by centre staff and will be encouraged to develop their own knowledge and set their own trails. Groups will learn to communicate to achieve goals, learning from each task to improve performance on the next, helping to build trust and confidence. This activity follows the principles of our patron Ray Mears.
- River Dipping (1 ½ hours) – This activity takes place in the stream that runs across the bottom of the estate and introduces participants to the inhabitants of the water. All equipment is provided for kick testing and for identification. The stream is shallow and slow moving with steps leading into the stream. This is something a little different as it takes place in the water and can be combined with pond dipping to provide a comparison of still and moving water and adaptations of life within each. Can you successfully catch and identify the invertebrates within the river working in small groups? This activity works upon small group work, identifying and experiencing aquatic life and the natural world around us.
- Pond Dipping (1 ½ hours) – This activity takes place at our safe, purpose built wildlife pond. All equipment is supplied and identification sheets provided. All levels are catered for, from simple discovery to building food chains and predator prey relationships. Pond ecology and pond importance is discussed informally with the groups. Can you successfully catch and identify the invertebrates within the pond working in small groups?Maximum of 20 people per session.
- Orienteering (1 ½ hours) – Whitwell Hall Country Centre is a perfect and safe environment for two Orienteering courses of varying difficulty. Centre Staff will help to guide participants with the basics of map reading, Orienteering, and the use of a compass and team work. Focusing on good communication and route planning, can the team make it around the estate and find all the controls.
- Scavenger Hunt (1 hour) – Search the Whitwell Estate for a list of natural objects. Can you find something straight, something dead and something that reminds you of yourself? This activity will develop observational skills and team working of small groups to bring back the list of correct items.
- Team Building (1 ½ hours) – This activity is good at bringing new groups together or bonding an existing team or class. All equipment supplied with a selection of fun and active games developing participants balance, coordination and communication to achieve the goals, learning from each task to the next whilst improving upon their performance. The team building tasks vary in physical and mental challenges for all abilities developing trust between members.
- People Art (1 – 1 ½ hours) – Using only your group members, can you make your school logo, a goldfish blowing bubbles, a tree in the wind? A fun activity which works to build a team, develop trust while learning about the art found in the natural environment. Make sure you bring a camera to see the final piece.
- Paper Planes (1 – 1 ½ hours) – Make and fly your very own paper plane! Use your imagination to fold and fly a plane in a competition against your class mates. How can you improve your performance? Follow a set design. Improving your folding skills and adding individual artistic elements to make your plane stand out from the others. Can you overcome nature’s gravity; improve your plane’s aerodynamics to land in the marked area or on the aircraft carrier? This activity focuses on individuals working to design their planes, creative art and design in decorating their planes and good sportsmanship during the competition.
- Natural Art (1 – 1 ½ hours) – Whitwell Hall Country Centre’s Estate lends itself to being a canvas for this activity. Using only what you can find around the estate, create a piece of artwork in groups or individually that will blend in and bio-degrade when you have gone. This activity works upon building a team, working together and utilising the teams varying skills to achieve the end goal.
- Pioneering (1 ½ hours) – Pioneering is the art of creating usable structures using rope and wooden spars. Groups will learn how to tie knots and lashings and will compete against each other to see who can construct the best project that works to fulfil the task. All the equipment is provided and this activity can be tailored to suit individual groups needs. Centre staff will teach basic knot skills that will be informally assessed depending if the structure stands. Small groups will learn to communicate to increase performance and achieve the goal as well as having to discuss and change their design to counteract nature’s boundaries.
- Geocaching (1 ½ hours or longer) – Find the Geo-Caches by working out the grid references on the map to get to certain areas on the estate where the caches will be found. Cache’s can be anything from micro (being a film canister) to large (being a large box) and an unknown size with some slightly more difficult hiding places. Make sure you sign the log book found in the cache with your school and team name. Groups will develop skills in orientating a map to the ground, understanding the scales on a map and the maps key as well as working as a team to complete the task. Route selection and map reading ability will be focused upon.
- Boat Building with a boat race (1 ½ hours + 1 ½ hour for the race [£1 per boat]) – Construct your own boat/mini raft using hammer and nails then decorate it. All materials, tools and instructions provided by a member of Centre Staff. This activity begins in the craft studio and culminates in The Quick Race and Grand Regatta along the Blackwater Stream at the bottom of the estate, in order to find the champion of boats! The boat race is a fun end to the hard work of making them with Centre Staff having as much fun as the participants. Achieving a finishing position in the race shows a successful boat build with luck and river conditions taking over from water entry. Participants will be encouraged to show good sportsmanship to each other throughout the races.
- Pottery (1 ½ hours) – This activity takes place in our fully equipped Craft Studio using Earthenware Clay. All clay, tuition and equipment supplied. A member of Centre Staff will guide you through the process of creating a “unique” clay memento of your visit to Whitwell. As you tailor your design to a predetermined topic, let your artistic flair and imagination take over. Clay items will be ready for collection once fired.
- T-Shirts (1 ½ hours [£2 per t-shirt]) – White T-Shirt, materials and tuition supplied. This activity takes place in fully equipped studio where a member of Centre Staff will assist groups throughout the process. Groups can create their own unique design on a T-shirt (various sizes available) using fabric crayons and pens. Students may draw freehand or use templates depicting local wildlife found on the estate. This activity can be themed. T Shirts can be worn immediately after the activity or taken home.
- Archery (1 ½ hours )* – Learn to be a toxophilite with some expert tuition from a professional instructor. All equipment supplied. Sessions take place on our archery range, in a quiet corner of the Whitwell estate.
- Air Rifles (1 ½ hours )* – Learn to shoot a bull’s-eye with expert tuition from a professional instructor. All equipment is provided and instructors hold relevant safety certificates. Sessions take place on our archery range.
- Canoeing (1 ½ hours )* – Receive expert tuition from a fully qualified instructor on our own fleet of boats. The lake is a placid water, ideal for beginners. The canoeing lake is now situated on the Whitwell Hall estate making the activity easier when it comes to changing and time delay after the activity. All safety equipment supplied
- Camp Fire -Some groups like to end their day with a camp fire either in the woodland or under a shelter. We will build the fire for you – all you need to do is light it when you are ready! This is offered free of charge.
New activities added to our selection for 2016 and onwards!
- Pocket Adventure Guide – The pocket adventure guide is a new, self-led activity available to visiting groups. The guide is perfect for groups to discover Whitwell Hall and the estate. Several points as well as a map are within the guide giving information and allowing you and your group explore.
Small guides are available in any number. The guide can be followed in pairs, small groups or a large group with or without staff members. This activity doesn’t need a member of the Whitwell staff to run it.
- Norfolk Wildlife Encounters – Norfolk Wild Encounters is a local organisation to Whitwell Hall, specialising in close encounters with raptors and reptiles. Norfolk Wild Encounters, run by Simon Rouse, can tailor a session to fit with the group or the study topic at the time of your visit to Whitwell Hall. They are able to fly many types of birds of prey for the group to watch and experience their skill in flight. Some of the raptors have been hand-reared making them happy to be held by the children. Sessions can also be tailored to include a selection of reptiles. The Norfolk Wild Encounters team are very knowledgeable so each session can have as much or as little information about the raptors and reptiles as you and your groups wishes.
Groups need to book Norfolk Wild Encounters direct and then the activity can be fitted into the week’s itinerary. Contact Simon Rouse on 07928412344
- BBQ (for house groups)
Those activities marked with * are run by MG Archery and have to be booked directly with them.
Norfolk Wildlife Encounters activity needs to be booked directly with Simon Rouse via his mobile number above.
We have a comprehensive teachers pack available to groups with guidance on a whole range of site specific activities from backwoods cooking to den building. £12 per pack.
There are off site visits that we can help to arrange such as a Historic trail around the town of Reepham or a visit to the National Trusts’ Blickling Hall near Aylsham. If you have any requests for an activity not listed we would be happy to discuss it with you.