The National Trust has launched a nationwide campaign to encourage sofa-bound children to take to the outdoors and enjoy classic adventures from skimming stones to building dens.
The '50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾' initiative is in response to a report commissioned by the National Trust which highlighted research that fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree and one in ten can’t ride a bike.*
The charity's '50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾' campaign provides a checklist for under-12s (and those who are young at heart) including everything from running around in the rain and bug hunting, to setting up a snail race, damming a stream, flying a kite and making a (delicious) mud pie.
To help bring to life these simple pleasures, the Trust has formed a group of Elite Rangers who will share their expert tips on enjoying outdoor adventures and their enthusiasm for encouraging children to play alfresco.
The five rangers, all Trust staff, 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 mini-beast expert, a.k.a. The Bug Catcher.
The fantastic five will be offering top tips on their chosen skill to the nation's children over the National Trust Free Weekend (21st and 22nd April) when the National Trust will open up over 200 of its houses and gardens for free over the weekend, as well as all the countryside spaces it cares for, which are always free access.
Kids can pick up a free '50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾' scrapbook from participating properties and start ticking off their outdoor adventures to do list. Plus, the fun can continue at home by visiting nationaltrust.org.uk/50things where children can fill in their completed activities and earn points towards their very own explorer badge.
Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, commented: "Our Elite Rangers are a fantastic bunch, with bags of enthusiasm for the outdoors and what it can offer kids. We're hoping that the nation's children will embrace the 50 things and start having their very own outdoor adventures with their family, with our Free Weekend the perfect opportunity to get outside in the fresh air."
*Statistics from Natural England (2009) Childhood and Nature: a survey on changing relationships with nature across generations. http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/Childhood%20and%20Na... And Play England: August 2011 (a third have never climbed a tree and one in ten can’t ride a bike)
About National Trust:
The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 710 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
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