Problem solving, shelter building and pond dipping was all in a day’s work for a group of young people in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park recently.

Children aged 10 to 12 headed into the National Park for Spark, a multi-agency challenge led by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

The organisations teamed up with Pembrokeshire County Council’s Childcare Department and the Army to offer four days of challenge and learning to young people at risk of getting involved in anti-social behaviour and low-level offending.

National Park Ranger Richard Vaughan said: “For this group of young people, the week was a useful introduction to the beautiful National Park countryside and a chance for us to encourage them to respect and look after it.”

The Army worked with the group each morning on problem-solving tasks involving physical activity, to get them working together as a team.

They then went on to do community project work, including helping to make a giant wicker man for the celebration of Beltaine at Castell Henllys Iron Age Village. They also helped to paint a shed and pagoda at Maenclochog School and community field.

The group then learned shelter-building and bushcraft skills in Pentre Ifan Woods before going on a pond-dipping session.

Pembrokeshire County Council representative Abigail Jenkins said: “This project provided the children with a fantastic opportunity to use the environment around them to develop an understanding of the importance of citizenship and pro-social behaviour within their community.”

Crew Manager Randal Evans, of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, added: “This group of young people responded well to the tasks we set them, including working as a team to follow a pre-set guide line to rescue a mock casualty. They also received valuable lessons on the dangers of inappropriate use of aerosols. We feel that our input provided the young people with a positive environment to learn the benefits of teamwork and good citizenship.”

Ranger Richard added: “On the final evening the group tackled quite a challenging bike ride through the North Pembrokeshire hills and they surprised themselves at their fitness level and ability – they were really chuffed and it was a great way to round off their week discovering the National Park.”