Planning for the John Muir Award

The boys used to attend a forest school where they were working towards something called the John Muir Award. They weren’t able to complete the award as we had to stop attending the forest school, but I decided to look into the John Muir Award separately.

What is the John Muir Award?

The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme, free to undertake, and it really is available to everyone. Families, individuals, schools, community groups. prisoners… there are no barriers. Isn’t that great? The purpose of the award is to encourage people to get out into wild spaces, explore them, look after them and share them with others.

What do I need to do?

To attain the John Muir Award you must satisfy five different parts to the award.


Where/what is your wild place (or places)?

This can be school grounds, local park, beach, woods, river, mountain or national park…


Where will your activity take place? (Note all the places you will visit).

What is the natural character of your chosen place(s)?

What makes it special for you/your group?

Why is it a suitable place for your Award activity?

Our Plans:

Our wild places will be local country parks and nature reserves. Initially we will be exploring Chesham Woods in Bury, The Outwood Country Park in Radcliffe, and Burrs Country Park in Bury. This will give us a range of environments to explore – wooded areas, rivers, canals and open spaces. That means we will be able to compare different environments in a range of places.

These are great places for us to start because they aren’t too far from home, they are accesible but still wild.

We will also be using our back garden for some small activities


Tell us what you’ll do to increase your awareness and understanding. How will you experience, enjoy and find out more about your wild place(s)?

You might:

Visit it at different times of day and night, in different seasons, alone or with others.

Travel extensively – walk, camp, bike, canoe.

Sit, look, listen – engage senses.

Identify and find out more about landscapes, habitats and living things (biodiversity), and how they connect.

Make maps. Take photographs. Research local geology, natural and cultural history.

Our Plans:

We will visit the woodlands during the day and at night, as a family and with our friends.

Hopefully,we’ll be able to take our tree tent somewhere and sleep in it overnight. 

We will be exploring mostly by foot, and hope to find new parts of our chosen areas.

We will be following a nature based literature curriculum which requires us to lok more closely at the smaller parts of nature as well as the huge trees and larger creatures.

We’re also undertaking a photography project and this will be incorporated within our record keeping for the John Muir Award.


How will you care for your wild place(s), take some personal responsibility, make a difference, put something back?

Take practical action for nature – wildlife or pollution surveys, litter picks and audits, tree or shrub planting, grow plants for wildlife or clear invasive plants, create or monitor habitats…

Campaign and inform others to highlight an environmental issue or help protect a wild place.

Apply minimum impact approaches to your activity.

Our Plans:

We will be clearing litter

As a family, we plan to make some bird feeders and bat boxes, and put them in our wild places.

We hope to make and spread some wildflower bombs ready for next years bees

We’ll make a hedgehog habitat in our back garden and a mini-pond.

We have been learning about plastics and now know how they affect wildlife, so we will be talking to passers by about how they can help to care for our wild places, and handing out flyers for them to take home


Tell others about what you’ve done – experiences, achievements, feelings, what’s been learned. Celebrate!

Reflect, review and discuss your adventures and experiences in wild places – do this during as well as after, informally or more formally.

You might:

Make a display of photos, drawings, stories, poems, artwork.

Keep a group diary – as a book, wall display or film.

Organise a presentation.

Lead a guided walk around your wild place(s).

Use newsletters, websites and social media

Our Plans:

We are part of a large home educating community and we want to share our wild places with our friends. To do this we’ll be bringing them to our wild places and showing them our work, as well as asking them to join us in our quest.

We will also be keeping a written record of everything we do, as well as making some videos to share online. It will also be documented on our family blog and associated social media pages.

How do I get started?

Before you get started working towards your John Muir Award you must complete and submit a proposal form at least two weeks before you get started. This will be checked over by the friendly staff at John Muir HQ and, if you’ve covered all the points on the proposal form, they will give you the go-ahead and you can get started on your new adventure!

You will find a full explanation of the award here, and the proposal form here.

To give you an idea of what to work towards to achieve the first level award – the discovery award – here’s our proposed list of activities. At discovery level, participants must spend a minimum of 4 days (or equivalent) working towards their award.

Join us!

Are you inspired to undertake the John Muir Award yourself? I’d love for you to keep me posted with what you get up to in order to achieve it. Find me on Facebook, twitter or Instagram.

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