Services for Young People Hertfordshire Services for Young People

John Muir Award Conservation Residential Course

Complete your John Muir Discover Award and/or the Residential Section of your Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award

 Landscape view over fields and trees with a blue sky and clouds.

Spend a week at Hudnall Park learning a range of practical conservation skills while making new friends and learning more about yourself.

The John Muir Award Conservation Residential Course offered by Services for Young People is an educational five-day, four-night residential course at Hudnall Park for young people aged 16-24. The activities are focused on wildlife and nature conservation, and you will also be supporting the habitat improvement part of the Go Wild at Hudnall project. The courses are held during the school holidays.

On the course you will learn about the wildlife at Hudnall Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Chiltern Hills. You will have the opportunity to carry out conservation work with data collection and learn bushcraft skills in one of the woodlands. There may also be an opportunity to visit Whipsnade (ZSL) to learn about the conservation work they do.

The John Muir Award is a national environmental award scheme that encourages people from all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places by meeting the four challenges of Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share. The three levels are:

  • Discover Award – 25+ hours
  • Explore Award – 50+ hours
  • Conserve Award – 125+ hours

The course will give you the time commitment to complete your John Muir 'Discover Award'.

Alternatively, if you are doing your Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award, it is an ideal way to complete the Residential section. Please check with your DofE Leader that they are happy to approve this activity.

This course is also ideal if you are thinking of further study involving wildlife, ecology or conservation, or just want to improve your general nature skills.

The course will also help you to develop skills that will be useful in other areas of your life, such as:

  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Working as a team
  • Decision making
  • Staying focused
  • Time management

No prior experience is necessary, all we ask is that you have an interest in nature, conservation or the environment and a ‘have a go’ attitude.

Click on these FAQs for more information:

How much does it cost and what is included?

The price is £385 and includes all food (freshly cooked on site), accommodation and in course transport. 

Pick up/drop off is available from Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted or Tring railway stations by prior arrangement. Please contact us prior to booking if you will need this.

Accommodation is either in shared bedrooms or shared tents, depending on the weather and time of year.


To book your place we require a deposit of £50 and a consent form from each participant. If you are under 18, the booking must be made by a parent/carer.

An invoice for a non-refundable deposit will be issued by SERCO Financial Services.  Your place on the residential will not be confirmed until this has been paid.

Balance of Fees

Your final invoice will be sent directly to you by SERCO Financial Services. 

If you would like to pay in installments, please email us at

Please note: If the minimum number of six participants has not been reached two weeks before the start of the course, the course will be cancelled and any payments made will be refunded. We will keep you informed if this is likely to happen.

When are the 2024 courses happening?

Please check back for 2024 dates.

What happens on each day of the course?

Example timetable

Day 1

  • Arrive at 12.00pm
  • Lunch, welcome and introductions, safety talk and ice breakers.
  • Familiarise yourself with your surroundings and get to know your team.
  • Discuss personal aims and objectives for the week.
  • More about the John Muir Award – who is John Muir?
  • An evening walk in the woods for a night-time exploration of this magical ancient habitat.
  • Time will be given to complete your John Muir diaries


Day 2

  • A talk about conservation at Hudnall Park and the traditional land management activities practiced here.
  • Get involved in the conservation activities around Hudnall Park such as hedge laying and species monitoring
  • Mammal trapping - an introduction to the use of Longworth traps and small mammal surveys
  • Complete your John Muir diaries


Day 3

  • After checking the mammal traps in the morning, you’ll be driven to the Chilterns where you will go on a nature walk to explore the amazing geographical features of Ivinghoe Beacon and the surrounding area. You will collect data on flora and fauna which can be used for national databases, and perhaps do some art, sketching or photography.
  • Considering the impact that climate change may have on these areas.
  • An evening wildlife walk to see bats, deer and badgers. We will place some cameras around the site to record footage of the local nocturnal wildlife.
  • Complete your John Muir diaries


Day 4

  • Visit to Whipsnade Zoo
  • John Muir Diaries
  • An evening woodland fire – a chance to relax around the campfire and reflect on your experiences of the week and maybe toast a marshmallow or two.


Day 5

  • Collect wildlife cameras and watch the footage
  • Bird ringing demonstration
  • Finalise your John Muir diaries and presentations
  • Reflection and final review of the course
  • Depart 3pm


Please note: to ensure safe and quality learning experiences for students, the timetable may change depending on weather conditions and local factors at the centre.

More residential course FAQs

More Hudnall Park FAQs         

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Book your place

To book your place, please complete the sign-up form below. You will need to attend a short video call prior to the start of the course.

For further information, please email: with the subject heading Conservation residential 2023.


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