The National Trust recently updated its 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 list, which aims to encourage children outdoors. It now includes stargazing, rock climbing and horse riding as well as old favourites like making a daisy chain and playing Pooh sticks. No mention of ‘Go to VW shows’, but maybe it’ll make the next list.
It’s a laudable idea, but I can’t help feeling a little sad that we now have to have special initiatives to encourage today’s kids to do what came naturally for us when we were young.
I was lucky that my childhood home backed onto a small wood, so climbing a tree (top of the ‘50 things’ list) was a given, as was making a den (No 4), mud pies (13) and damming a stream (14).
My friends and I virtually lived on our bikes, so we went on rides both short and really long (11) where we’d pick wild blackberries (21), climb a huge hill (28) and explore a cave (29). And as for run around in the rain (6) and play in the snow (15), well why wouldn’t you if it was still daylight?
Still, there are some things on the list that, as I approach a Certain Age, I still haven’t done. Set up a snail race (17) for instance – and I’m never likely to, despite the fact that the world’s mollusc population appears to live in our garden.
There’s also canoe down a river (50), find a geocache (49) and build a raft (43) still outstanding. And, despite years of camping in tents, caravans and camper vans, I still haven’t been wild camping (3).
But back to the original question – do we really need a list to know how to have fun outdoors? And if you think it’s a great idea, what other activities do you think should be on it?