Thursday, 2 August 2012

National Trust: 50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4

I don't think that Kit is quite suffering from 'Nature Deficit Disorder' yet, but as we are exploring National Trust properties we thought he could make an early start on the Fifty things to do before you're 11 3/4.

We started with a nice easy one.

Rolling down a really big hill (well it was really big for a just three-year-old)


  1. It would be a mistake to take this list as a criticism of modern parenting in the UK, or to read it too prescriptively. It is providing a picture of 'real childhood' and it is well worth reminding ourselves that virtually every child of that age, in the correct context, would find most of the items on that list exciting and adventurous. It is up to us to make sure that we provide the context within which each child can experience and enjoy at least some of those activities.

    Modern life does tend to militate against this however and many children, for a wide variety of reasons, will not be able to tick of anywhere near as many of those items as they would like to.

    It is a sad fact that, whilst in France, and in the USA attendance on residential 'summer camps' for children is common, and the activities listed by the National Trust will play a significant part of their programme, in the UK such camps are virtually unknown, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that UK children are missing out on some very valuable educational experiences as a result.

    In the 1960s and 70s, a UK organisation called 'Colony Holidays' briefly popularised the French model of Summer Camps with great success, and children were encouraged by trained young adults, working as enthusiastic volunteers, to engage in the sort of activities promoted by the National Trust, and to leave behind the trappings of a modern society for just a short while.

    A much smaller organisation known as Active Training and Education is still doing this with their incredible 'Superweeks' and one can only hope that this timely campaign by the National Trust will help their cause.

    1. Thanks for your comments Barry. I'm not taking it prescriptively, but it is fun to have a list of things to tick off as you do them, and it is a great list of ideas for things for kids to do to get closer to nature. I remember going on great 'summer camps' with my school in the 90s through PGL which gave me the opportunity to do much more than is on the National Trust list. However summer camps aren't generally free and so I don't think they are the answer to the issue of children connecting with nature. I see the point of the National Trust campaign as trying to encourage parents and children to enjoy what mother nature has given us for free, and make the most of their 'green' areas, however small that area might be. I don't think the answer for 'Nature Deficit Disorder' would ever be in summer camp, as that is an added extra, rather it is something that should be taught in schools and available to ALL children.



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