Embracing the spirit of nature

Published 9:00am 7 June 2022

Embracing the spirit of nature
Words by Jodie Powell

A Samford business is helping people connect with each other – and with nature.

Created by Tammy Russell and Guy L’Estrange, Outdoor Spirit takes people back to basics through workshops and activities that embrace the region’s natural beauty.

Guy’s career as an outdoor education instructor came to an end when he broke his neck in a mountain biking accident in 2019.

The experience forced him to take stock and reprioritise.

“After my accident, I remember sitting outside on my deck at home, not able to move my neck, but for the first time really seeing the environment around me,” Guy recalls.

“The trees, the branches, the leaves, the grass, the way the sunlight forced its way through the canopy.

“Mindfulness and meditation in nature became an important part of my recovery and helped me tap into a resilience I wasn’t aware I had.”

Healing journey

Embracing the spirit of nature

Guy has since made a remarkable recovery, although he was unable to return to his adventure-based work – but he knew he wanted to continue working in the outdoors.

“I’ve always loved being in nature and taking other people into nature and helping them step outside their comfort zones - it’s so healing for myself and for them,” Guy explains.

“As a society we are so disconnected with it and we wanted to do whatever we can do to help people return to that.”

Before his accident most of Guy’s work before was with children and university groups, taking them to remote parts of Australia.

“Since breaking my neck and a couple of other injuries it’s pretty nice to come home and have a soft pillow,” he laughs.

“That’s how Outdoor Spirit was formed – it’s a little moment of reconnection for kids and adults.”

Imagination rules

Embracing the spirit of nature

Tammy says watching children blossom as they get muddy, wet and build fires is extremely gratifying.

“Kids are so risk averse these days,” she says. “You get teenagers who can’t even chop carrots.

“We give them the chance to be let loose a little bit and have that freedom to use imagination.

“We teach them safely – we teach fire safety and how to build a fire, whittling, knife skills.

“There’s a little bit of structure but a lot of free play to encourage imagination.”

Adventure abounds

Embracing the spirit of nature

An adventure with Outdoor Spirit might include learning how to build a shelter, rock-hopping along Cedar Creek or making dream-catchers.

“We have them tree climbing, getting dirty, getting muddy, boosting the immune system,” Guy says.

“It’s awesome watching the kids come and they’re way out of their comfort zone.

“By the end they’re soaking wet and filthy and have the biggest smiles on their faces.

“It’s watching that transition that brings so much joy.”

As well as getting kids into nature, Outdoor Spirit runs activities such as mindfulness and meditation sessions, corporate team-building hikes, basket weaving classes, Bush Kids home-school, after-school and playgroup and school holiday programs and there are plans for family camps.

Creative connections

Guy says the basket weaving sessions, using the weed cat’s claw creeper, give people the chance to connect.

“We live in such a materialistic society where we just go and buy what we want – it’s the lost art of making something.
“Within two hours these women have just created the most amazing pieces of art.”

Tammy agrees: “The principle of creating a basket is the same for everybody, yet no two baskets are the same. It’s about being creative.

“People need to reconnect, to return to the land and return to the earth and understand that humans are connected. It’s an instant reaction.

“It’s something that people all crave, to connect to nature.”

Find out more about Outdoor Spirit here.

Read more local news here.

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