The National Trust has come in for some flak this weekend for daring to come up with a bucket list of things kids might like to try outdoors before they hit their teen years. The list of 50 things – far from being a must-do list for parents to feel guilty about – is I think a brilliant way to get kids (and parents) having some brilliant fun outside.
Reading the list to a bunch of 5 – 7 year olds (all city kids) this weekend it was great to see how many things they could already tick off and how many they wanted to try right away. So far from being a ‘should’ list that takes the inspiration out of exploring as some critics have said, it’s clear the aim is to encourage children to think wider when they’re out and about and enjoy some classic adventures from skimming stones to building dens.
The campaign came about in response to a report The National Trust commissioned last year, which highlighted the fact that fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places, a third have never climbed a tree, one in ten can’t ride a bike, and three times as many are taken to hospital after falling out of bed, as from falling out of a tree. As a result The 50 Things to do before you’re 11¾ list includes everything from running around in the rain and bug hunting, to abseiling, bouldering and making mud pies.
The list has something for everyone whether your kids are preschoolers, or tweens, or kids that love the outdoors or those who are less confident about nature.
To help find the joy in these things The National Trust have also formed a group of Elite Rangers who will share their expert tips on enjoying outdoor adventures. The five rangers, all staff members, come from across the UK and range in age from 29 to 49. They include a 6ft 3” tree climbing expert, who has scaled 50 metre-high trees, (a.k.a. Tree Man), Captain Skim who can skim a stone over 26 times and Midas the treasure hunter. The other rangers are Den-Boy, an outdoor hideaway-building champion, and a minibeast expert (aka The Bug Catcher).
The fantastic five will be offering top tips on their chosen skill to the nation’s children over a Free Weekend (21st and 22nd April) when the National Trust will open up over 200 of its houses and gardens for free.
Families can pick up a free 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾ scrapbook from participating properties – and kids can visit nationaltrust.org.uk/50things where children can fill in their completed activities and earn points towards their very own explorer badge.