Venture Outdoor Kindergarten aims:

  • Build a positive mental attitude and independence
  • Develop patience, resilience and determination
  • Foster imagination and initiative
  • Cultivate respect for the natural world
  • Strengthen self awareness / sense of self and develop skills in cooperation and communication
  • Encourage individuality and original thinking
  • Harness children’s innate curiosity and cultivate a passion for learning which will last throughout  their lifetime
  • Learn how to make their own decisions to keep themselves healthy and safe
  • Have fun!


At Venture Outdoor Kindergarten we spend the whole day outside exploring within our beautiful, carefully chosen outdoor environment. We recognise children’s competence as independent learners and our approach is child-led, allowing each child to play and be motivated by their own curiosity about the natural world.

At Venture we place emphasis on self confidence and independence which is achieved through each child’s negotiation of physical, social and personal challenges.

We respect children and place trust in them, allowing them to take ownership of their own learning and empowering them to make their own decisions. The children learn to manage their own risks and relationships with others whilst respect for one another and the environment is promoted.

The adults at Venture stand back and observe the children and this means that we can understand each child individually and plan for their next steps effectively. The adult takes a back seat and simply ‘scaffolds’ the children’s play and learning.


We become more humble, we teach less,

and we provide an environment for learning instead.  


 Magda Gerber

Giving the children the opportunity to be outside for long periods of time means fresh air, exercise and many rich opportunities for play and also provides an open ended, ever changing environment where the children are not restricted by commercial influences.

Outside they have physical and mental space. There are opportunities for natural quiet times when the children can approach their inner selves and enjoy a solitary moment, allowing time for thought and reflection.

Whilst outside the children and what they choose to play with can be anyone or anything, creating endless opportunities for creativity.  Children learn about the consequences of their actions and set their own challenges rather than having them artificially set by an adult.


Teach your scholar to observe the phenomena of nature;

you will soon rouse his curiosity,

but if you would have it grow, do not be in too great a hurry to satisfy this curiosity.

Put the problems before him and let him solve them himself.

Let him know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself.

Let him not be taught science, let him discover it.

If ever you substitute authority for reason he will cease to reason;

he will be a mere plaything of other people's thoughts.                Jean-Jacques Rousseau          

Physical and emotional resilience develop and are gently nurtured as the children become more able, with each achievement the child’s confidence, resilience, persistence and endurance grow. As the child begins to feel at home in an outdoor space they feel a sense of ownership and autonomy which brings with it confidence and the intrinsic motivation to discover and learn. This motivation is not often experienced within the constraints of an indoor, adult controlled environment where tasks are set and children are judged by adult standards.

Typical Activities

The children are encouraged to explore and play independently. Activities are planned according to the group’s and individual children’s interests and abilities. Examples of the activities that the children may encounter are:

Shelter work
Building dams and dens
Boat building
Hill rolling

Skimming stones
Pond dipping
Story telling
Caring for wildlife
Mud kitchen

Map reading
Tracking animals
Bird watching
Developing balance
Using tools

The Venture Team

Jenny and Zoe met six years ago in the woods and soon found that they shared a passion for natural education and parenting. Almost two years later they agreed to lead the local preschool together which was on the brink of closure after an unsuccessful Ofsted inspection. Within a few months, Jenny and Zoe transformed the preschool and gained a ‘good’ Ofsted report. Their practice has been increasingly influenced by the approach to education seen in Scandinavian outdoor kindergartens and they have seen first hand the benefits to children of spending their days learning autonomously outdoors, leading them to establish the South Hams’ first fully outdoor kindergarten.

Zoe Purkis

Founder of Venture Outdoor Kindergarten

BEd (Hons) Primary Teaching
BTec Level 3 Forest School Leader
Paediatric First Aid Qualified
Safeguarding Level 2 Qualified

Zoe has worked as a primary school teacher, pre-school leader and as a home educating parent to her own five children. She is passionate about getting children outdoors believing that this is the key to a happy, healthy and fulfilled childhood. Zoe has spent many years studying how children learn and is an enthusiastic advocate of autonomous education. She loves exploring with her family and their dog and is a member of several local singing and amateur dramatic groups.

Jenny Papenfus

Founder of Venture Outdoor Kindergarten

Ba (Hons) Communication Studies and Theatre
Level 3 Childcare and Development
BTec Level 3 Forest School Leader
Paediatric First Aid Qualified
Safeguarding Level 3  & Special Educational Needs.

After studying for her degree at University in London, Jenny moved to the West Country and for the past 10 years has worked in schools and pre-schools. She has an NVQ Level 3 in Childcare and Development and a Forest School BTec. Jenny loves to follow a child’s interests and is a natural at understanding and nurturing children’s emotional well-being. In her spare time Jenny likes to run, wild swim and spend time with her family at the beach or roaming the countryside.

Megan Heathman

Lead Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

BA (Hons) Children's Physical Education
PGCE Primary with Early Years specialism
Safeguarding Level 3
Paediatric First Aid Qualified

Since completing her PGCE, Megan has worked as an EYFS teacher in a small primary school. She grew up in Devon, spending her childhood on the beach and exploring the countryside. Megan truly believes that children become inquisitive, independent and resilient learners when they are given the freedom to lead their own learning in an outdoor environment that nurtures their innate curiosities. She is passionate about nurturing children as they develop and supporting their emotional well-being. In her own time Megan loves to explore the coast and spends her time camping and paddle boarding.

Sarah Gardner

Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering
Level 3 Forest School Leader
Beach Schools Practitioner
Level 3 Outdoor
First Aid Qualified
Safeguarding Level 3

Sarah is a Chartered Marine Engineer, a mother of two young boys and a wife to a serving Naval Officer. After 23 years of service in the Royal Navy, she made the decision to leave in order to provide some stability for her family. With a love of the outdoors she decided she wanted to work in an outdoor environment. After completing her Beach School's course and Forest School training, she has led Forest School sessions in numerous local pre-schools and schools. When not working, Sarah loves to be active. She is a keen walker and surfer and gets around the occasional triathlon!

Jasmine Greenhill

Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

BA (Hons) Illustration
Safeguarding Level 2 Qualified
Paediatric First Aid Qualified

In addition to working at Venture, Jazz is a part time nanny to two young children and an illustrator, with a love of the great outdoors and all things natural. She grew up here in the South Devon countryside with a great passion for drawing and creativity. Jazz loves to nurture a child’s creative expression and understands the importance of a connection to nature as the foundations for health and wellbeing. She is perceptive and thoughtful and very aware of the needs of others. Jazz enjoys walking, cooking, travelling and learning Italian with her partner Pier.