• Beetle Buddies

    Nature Workshops for 0-6 year olds

Weekly workshops to build your child’s connection to nature from a very young age…

  • “We really enjoyed the Playgroup yesterday morning - the fire cooked apples, tasting bush food - sasparilla especially - and making fire with flint were my highlights!”

    – Jane

Why Nature Play for Young Children?

There is a decline in outdoor play and a rise in screen time and other sedentary activities in children worldwide. The term ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is becoming more widely used across western society and describes a condition where children’s disconnection from the natural world affects their wellbeing and development. It is a real problem and one that needs to be addressed…

Sensory Experiences

According to the field of embodied cognition, we build conceptual knowledge of real world phenomena from our sensory experiences. The journalist Richard Louv describes this in his 2005 book “Last Child in the Woods”.

Physical Activity

Children between 0-5 years need 3 hours of ‘light to vigorous’ physical activity per day for healthy development (Victoria Health, 2016)

“Most countries around the world report that less than 40 per cent of children take part in recommended levels of physical activity”.(Tremblay et al. 2014)”

Improved Concentration

We know that there is a direct link between children’s ability to concentrate and the amount of physical activity they do.
There is lots of research advocating for extended recess time due to the rise in attention observed by teacher’s after children have had time to play outdoors.

About Beetle Buddies

Family friendly and designed for mixed ages

Beetle Buddies is a 10-week program during school terms offering child-led sessions exploring play in nature. Activities offered include fire craft, bush cooking, whittling, shelter building, story telling, nature craft and exploration. Children will have access to a variety of tools and can choose to participate in the activities or play freely.

Parents will have access to information cards that highlight this process and help explain why children do what they do.  We encourage families to attend all 10 workshops to meet the forest school principle of frequent and regular sessions in a natural environment.


Fridays from 10.00am-12.30pm (during school terms)


Enjoy rock pool exploration, wattle scavenging and hill sliding at our new location at Tuckers Rock!

Beetle Buddies is enjoying a new location in Term 3, exploring rock pools and closely observe sea life – dolphins, whales, crabs, mollusks, sea snails, eagles and much more. The warm weather has brought about an increase in local bush tucker with loads of ripe Lilly Pilly’s and Native Asparagus available. We have been interacting with the changes in the tide and witnessing first hand how the weather transforms the landscape. The dunes and Coastal Banksia’s provide a natural playground for the children who are enjoying climbing, swinging and sliding!


$15 per child or $20 per family per week

To book a place, 2 weeks in advance is payable upon enrolment. Otherwise it will be based on availability (max 14 families).

Receive your 1st session FREE when booking for the whole term for Term 3 & 4 2018! 

What to Bring:

For your safety and enjoyment we request that participants – young and old – wear enclosed walking shoes and appropriate clothing and carry a backpack with:

  • Water
  • Towel/Swimwear
  • Spare clothes
  • Bottle
  • Hat
  • Morning Tea and/or Lunch (session finishes at lunchtime – 12.30)
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent (we also have some available however if you have sensitivities it is best to bring your own)

Parent Library – NEW!

Beetle Buddies offers it’s families a parent library stocked with books for all audiences from fictional stories about nature connection to literature on child development and nature mentoring.

Erin Chapman – Beetle Buddies Facilitator

About the Facilitator

Erin is a mother of three, a teacher, an advocate for children and a passionate nature playworker! With seven years experience in the field of early childhood Erin brings her knowledge of child development, play, curriculum design and early nature connection activities to CEL. 

Erin prides herself on her natural ability to relate to children, she is a passionate advocate for children’s rights to play in nature and an experienced outdoor educator. 2017 saw Erin embark on a new nature play path, she left the industry of child care to develop a new enterprise on the Coffs Coast – Nature Play Academy.

Nature Play Academy’s unique approach is focused on child directed play, our workshops provide children with a variety of opportunities to make discoveries, lead an experience in nature and build resilience. Our creative play programs empower confidence and connection in nature. Through the success of Nature Play Academy Erin has come to join CEL and implements the Beetle Buddies program, an early childhood nature play workshop operating during school terms.

  • Outdoor play

    The children build a shelter in the bush

    Watch Video

Beetle Buddies Facilitator, Erin Chapman, is looking to connect with many parts of the community to raise awareness about this exciting new project. If you would like more information about Beetle Buddies or would like to get more involved, please contact Erin using the form below or phone her on 0408 607 140.

“My daughter and I have been attending the Bellingen Nature Play playgroup.  I am in awe about how the confidence and inquisitiveness of the children (and adults!) involved grows during each nature play session.  At this time of over precaution about children’s activities and the prevalence of computer/TV screens in children’s lives, Nature Play Academy brings families valuable connection with nature and digity of risk to our children’s play in a professional and safe, yet importantly explorative manner. Both the Educators, Erin and Helen, are very skilled and talented at working with the children in a child centred manner to ignite interest and extend their exploration of the natural world around them.

– Natalie