Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Exploring the Wilderness

The National Trust set out a list of 50 things a child "should be doing before they reach eleven years old". I read this in one of the national papers and the outline says children should be doing all of this before aged 11 things without adult supervision! Huh? A lot of the activities they listed need plenty of adult supervision with trained professionals there also. Kids mustn't be doing this on their own.

Here is the list of 50 things that kids should be doing before 11 years of age. I highlighted in bold text the activities without much health and safety, that could be viewed as dangerous, a menace to the environment, quite cruel to the animals and endangering wildlife:

1. Climb a tree
2. Roll down a really big hill
3. Camp out in the wild
4. Build a den
5. Skim a stone
6. Run around in the rain
7. Fly a kite
8. Catch a fish with a net
9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
10. Play conkers
11. Throw some snow
12. Hunt for treasure on the beach
13. Make a mud pie
14. Dam a stream
15. Go sledging
16. Bury someone in the sand
17. Set up a snail race
18. Balance on a fallen tree
19. Swing on a rope swing
20. Make a mud slide
21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild
22. Take a look inside a tree
23. Visit an island
24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind
25. Make a grass trumpet
26. Hunt for fossils and bones
27. Watch the sun wake up
28. Climb a huge hill
29. Get behind a waterfall
30. Feed a bird from your hand
31. Hunt for bugs
32. Find some frogspawn
33. Catch a butterfly in a net
34. Track wild animals
35. Discover what’s in a pond
36. Call an owl
37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
38. Bring up a butterfly
39. Catch a crab
40. Go on a nature walk at night
41. Plant it, grow it, eat it
42. Go wild swimming
43. Go rafting
44. Light a fire without matches
45. Find your way with a map and compass
46. Try bouldering
47. Cook on a campfire
48. Try abseiling
49. Find a geocache
50. Canoe down a river

Okay, you might think it's a wonderful idea. People overlook that there are some very odd things in that list, including straying out at night in the countryside!

First of all we must teach children never to pick wild berries, fruits and even apples off trees or bushes. It must be said that this is because the fruits would likely be toxic. Children can't be sure what's edible and what isn't. Apples and plums might be good from the local supermarket but on wild trees in the countryside, they might have turned very sour and filled with parasites. Symbolically it's considered theft just to pick wilf fruit, and perhaps it encourages kids to take things for granted. An adult should always advise children what's okay to eat without picking berries.

Snow White ate the poisonous apple because she didn't realise that it could be bad. Well apples can be harmful. It's unwise of the National Trust to tell children they should pick wild fruits and just eat them like sweets. Look at Hansel and Gretal. They were unsupervised kids left to their own devises. They ate a house in the forest because it looked so delicious. The met a nasty old witch that was only interested in hurting them. This is a story about the daring nature of children. Berries look nice but most of them are deadly. So I think the National Trust were very irresponsible to tell kids to do that.

I tell children that they must always be with an adult if they want to do anything daring and adventurous. Maybe I'm too cynical? Everything mentioned on that list is going to cause aggro for the wildlife. Some kids won't just keep snails and butterflies. They might torment the creatures. A whole range of problems could happen if children interfered with the nests of insects. All of that on the list needs total adult supervision.

What I've taken part in personally before I was eleven was:

Rolled down a hill, camped in the wild, ran in the rain, snowball fights, played on rope swings, visited an island, grass trumpet making and I even raised a butterfly.

Now not mentioned on the list but sounding similar to it are things I did as a child:  

Walked through a forest, built a spaceship out of sand and bits from an old car, made sandcastles, found crabs in pools (I never touched them), watched the sun set, made lots of daisy chains, made ornuments with shells, seen wild animals in parks and zoos, held an eagle (trained adult was present), been to farms, ect.

I also liked boardgames, computer games and reading books! Mind and body. However it's not just the thrill seeking of the outdoors that should be emphasised but the mastering of the outdoors. Join the guides, scouts, cubs, brownies or go on Summer Camps to do these things with adult guidance.

It's important for kids to learn about nature and how to enjoy being out in it.

Links of interest:

50 Things National Trust
Nature Net Learning
Woodland Trust - Kids
Big Learning
Nature Explore


  1. I feel bad for today's kids who lead such over-scheduled lives. When I was a kid in the 1960s, we spent hours just biking around the countryside, exploring stuff. No adult supervision, of course. It's probably a miracle we're alive today, but here we are.

  2. I was an 80's kid who did most of that in my huge garden. During summer holidays, my grandad always took us kids to the beach and a forest campsite. I remember getting really sick from eating wild fruit.