Meet some of the contributors to Art of Mentoring Devon 2017, part of a team of 60 staff running different elements of the all-ages camp.

Jon Young, Art of Mentoring camp facilitator

Jon Young (Lead presenter): For over 30 years, Jon’s been a leader in the fields of village-building, nature-based education, permaculture and cultural mentoring. He’s made vital advancements in modelling effective connection to nature and people.

A mentor of deep nature connection, Jon’s also an expert tracker, facilitator, public speaker and storyteller. He’s featured in many nature documentaries and teaches in North America, Europe, Australia and southern Africa.

Jon has authored and co-authored seminal works on deep nature connection and connection mentoring, including What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World (2013) and Coyote’s Guide to Connecting to Nature (2007).

A founder of the 8 Shields Institute, Jon has established best-practices for cultural modelling and mentoring nature connection. He promotes ‘village’-building globally as a nature-based model of cultural regeneration.

Victoria Mew AOM camp facilitator

Victoria Mew (Ring 1 presenter): After joining a Trackways family camp age 12, Victoria got hooked on learning about the natural world and her place among it. During her teens, she cherished nature-based experiences and mentors sprinkled throughout an otherwise ‘ordinary’ education.

Victoria spent her gap year at Jon Young’s Wilderness Awareness School in the US. Inspired by this year, she became a significant part of the team that launched the Art of Mentoring in the UK.

Graduating in Human Sciences in 2010, Victoria researched ‘How Growing Up Separate From Natural Environments Affects Childhood Development’. Based in Sussex, she works with Circle of Life Rediscovery and Sacred Earth CIC to enhance people’s nature skills, awareness and connection.

Victoria relishes helping people to foster a deeper relationship with fire and to feel more comfortable in natural environments and in working with others.

Chris Holland, Art of Mentoring camp facilitator

Chris Holland (Ring 1 presenter): Chris is a leading inspiration in nature connection and environmental education for families and schools in the UK and worldwide.

Chris is also a prize-winning photographer and the self-published author of I Love my World (2009), his engaging book on outdoor play. Chris’ teaching also benefits from his environmental science degree and his flair for facilitation.

Chris captivates groups of all ages by weaving his gifts in storytelling, bushcraft, foraging, environmental art and didgeridoo playing through his work. Founder of nature connection business Wholeland, Chris loves to relax by sea swimming and kayaking.

Deb Benham, Art of Mentoring camp facilitator

Dr Deborah Benham (Ring 1 presenter): A student of Jon Young, Deborah has been involved with 8 Shields and Art of Mentoring since 2011. She’s part of the 8 Shields Global Leadership Programme and is leading the establishment of 8 Shields UK.

Deborah is a PhD in wildlife conservation, environmental education and the people/nature interface. After 15 years’ in this field, she moved into broader areas of regenerative culture and design for sustainability, with a particular interest in social sustainability and social enterprise.

Until recently, Deborah was Managing Director of the Newbold Trust, a retreat and education centre for sustainable living and wellbeing in NE Scotland. Previously, she founded Wild at Heart, providing nature connection programmes, ecotourism consultancy and wildlife guide training. Deborah now offers consultancy, training and workshops in nature connection, regenerative culture, sustainability and youth empowerment.

Dan Puplett: (Ring 2 North) - Dan is a naturalist, conservationist and environmental educator who has been inspired by nature from an early age. He has been involved in a wide range of conservation projects and worked for Trees for Life for over ten years helping to restore native forests and their wildlife to the Highlands of Scotland and continues his involvement as a freelancer.

He is an instructor for the Kamana Naturalist Training Programme and an Associate Tutor for the Field Studies Council. Dan is a certified wildlife tracker and has a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Studies and an MSc in Environmental Forestry. He is a freelance nature guide and bushcraft instructor, and teaches tracking, bird language and other naturalist skills, as well as facilitating deep nature connection for all ages.

Dan loves hanging out with wildlife, kung fu, hillwalking with friends, climbing trees and drooling over tracks in the mud.

Lien De Coster (Ring 2): Lien is a lover of words and the wild. As Leaves of Lien she takes mixed groups and women’s groups out on solo retreats, each time again in awe by the transformative power of spending alone time on the land. She also holds workshops and courses inspired by deep nature connection and permaculture. Though she has her roots in the Flemish fields and cobblestones and lives in the Netherlands now for some years Lien has a strong connection to Scandinavia. Last winter she spent four months in the Arctic in the area of the Sami people, Europe’s indigenous people of the north, to write her newest poetry collection ‘A White Reindeer in the Snow’.

She draws upon a broad background of among others studies of literature, shamanic training and chi kung training and feels most at home at the edge of the forest and the village, sharing the wonders of the (inner) landscape with a small tribe.

Jack Payne-Cook (Ring 2):Jack’s journey of rewilding started on the edge of Dartmoor. He spent a year at Embercombe, an organisation in Devon committed to meaningful change through empowering leadership, going on to spend 9 months at the Wilderness Awareness School, where things got really wild. The immersion in the 8-shields at WAS kindled a tinder bundle of love for nature into a huge fire, and a burning passion for naturalist training, scout awareness and ancestral skills, as well as an embodied understanding of what makes a healthy and vibrant village.

He loves to move like an animal, eat wild food, dance, clown and celebrate. When not supporting people to connect to wild nature he can be found sunning himself on a mossy Boulder, swimming like an otter in a Dartmoor river, or dancing in the street. 

Sky Buitenhuis (Ring 2): Sky has been in love with all things natural (the whole world that is!) her whole life – from rambling in the Irish mossy hazel woodlands as a child to her current nature connection facilitation work. She is passionate about facilitating and teaching at the intersection of People and Land, and loves creating opportunities, for herself and others, to listen to the Earth. Her current work as the co-founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy is as a trainer and mentor for Forest Therapy Guides. She is also developing programs that integrate ancestral wild-crafting skills with deep listening.

Her educational and training background is in Environmental Biology, Permaculture, Practical Sustainability, Cultural Repair and Nature Awareness. She has staffed on Art of Mentoring events in Ireland, Scotland and California, and is the founder of SilentOak, a green building nature connection centre, Galway (Ireland, 2009-present).Her extensive training includes Weaving Earth Immersion yr 2 Bridge Builders (2013-2014), The Work That Re-Connects facilitator training (2013), and Regenerative Design and Nature Awareness (RDNA) Essentials program at the Regenerative Design Institute, California (2012).

Peter Cow, Art of Mentoring camp facilitator

Peter Cow (Event North): A heartfelt facilitator and culture designer, Peter has been involved with 8 Shields programmes and events since 2011. He’s on the team setting up the UK 8 Shields network and runs 8 Shields introductory weekends and events around the UK and Europe.

Peter’s been teaching and facilitating permaculture courses since 2007, specialising in ‘People Permaculture’ (social and personal regenerative design). He co-creates immersive and empowering learning experiences that connect people more deeply to nature, themselves and their community. Peter works with 8 Shields, Inner Transition and People Permaculture trainers across Europe.

Back in 2000, Peter co-founded Steward Community Woodland, a sustainable woodland community in Devon. He lived, designed, learned and played there in deep collaboration with the land and people for 7 years. Peter now lives in South Dartmoor, where he enjoys wild running and swimming, group singing and deepening connections.