When Clare's daughter Scarlett was starting to get mobile, Clare started looking around for groups that were nature based, relaxed and local... after coming to a dead end she started visiting Sydenham Hill Wood on a weekly basis with a friend and her baby and toddler. When that friend went back to work she started up Nature Play: South East London in July 2011. Word soon got around and before she knew it there were other parents joining her for a weekly dose of nature!
"I grew up in the countryside and so felt very strongly about passing on that love of nature, the earth and care of the environment on to my daughter - especially as we were bringing up our baby in a city! There was only one way to do that as far as I was concerned and that was to get in amongst nature regularly.
As Scarlett gets older, the brief changes. At first it was about discovering the environment, now it's about physical and imaginary play... all are essential to brain growth as it turns out.
One of the most surprising bits to the whole Nature Play experience for me, is that we the adults get just as much out of the weekly experience, we come out relaxed and grounded. It's what I wanted for my daughter, but forgot that I needed it for myself too."
Clare now lives in Rutland with husband Nick and their two daughters Scarlett and Olivia.
"I had always been an outdoorsy person, I grew up in a small city but the countryside started at the end of my street. I rode and we had a family dog so lots of my free time was spent outdoors and that was something I wanted for my children too. We moved to this little bit of south London called Plumstead exactly because it had so many great, green spaces but in the year I had gone back to work full time between my two children my eldest had not really been in nature in the way I had envisaged. The first time my son was at Nature Play he would wipe the mud off his boots with his gloves. Within a year he had completely changed and he is now always at his happiest in the woods. The weekly rhythm of spending time in this wild setting is now just a normal part of his childhood experience."
Paula Rozmysl, Paula Ko and Clare Welburn host the Greenwich Group
East Singapore Group
"I was running out of space and scape at our city-flat home as my daughter, Violet, was very much into movement so the only place left to go was out! Violet was always in awe of the outdoors and nature. It energises us both. I was fortunate enough to meet Clare and expressed my anxieties and excitement about bringing my then 3 months old to the South East London group hosted by Natasha and Ana. I was sold!- We went the very next week, we've never looked back!"
Nature Play East Singapore began in October 2016.
South East London Group
"I was born in Soviet Minsk, Belarus to a working family. I grew up on one of the typical estates and lived in a concrete block of flats. My parents were always busy working so I spent most of my holidays in my grandparent's village and played outside in nature. After university I came to London to work as an architect and have been living here ever since. I discovered Nature Play in spring 2016 when my first son was 7 months old. Since then we have been in the wood every week. Almost two years later, when my second son was born I started to host the SE London group. Now the wood is a favorite place for my children and it is a second home for me."
Tonka Ku and Sara Asadullah host the South East London Group
"I grew up in South West London but moved to Devon as a teen, and had the kind of freedom a rural setting brings. I moved back to the city over a decade ago and have worked in Early Years for several years. When my son was around 7 months old my partner and I began to look more locally for our weekend walks, and discovered an unexpectedly wide range of green spaces not far from Croydon’s concrete towers. It was while googling one of these woodland spaces that I came across the Nature Play group and realised that this was just what I didn’t know I was looking for!"