Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Officer

...If it was anything like me it was probably moaning a little that the weather wasn't like how I used to remember it was when I was a kid. Do you remember what it was like in those heady care free days/daze?

I can remember the instructions vividly. Don’t cross any main roads and be back before it gets dark. Oh, and be careful!

Two out of the three were always open to interpretation and although I sometimes arrived back at home way after sunset, claiming that it was ‘still light outside’, generally I stuck to the rules.

As a child playing with my friends over the summer holidays, we always had a great deal of fun. It was minimalistic fun. Simple fun. Adventurous fun! We would spend hours and hours riding our bikes on dusty tracks without a care in the world. Breaking occasionally to seek respite in a sun-drenched field, sat amongst daisies, dandelions, butterflies and hoverflies. We taught ourselves how to make daisy chains, how to tell if you liked butter (put a buttercup under your chin and if it glows yellow, you’re clearly a fan!) and simply enjoyed watching nature play out in front of us. There were no computer games, no reality TV shows and no worries. My summer holidays taught me all about the outdoors and they are memories that I will treasure.  Summer holidays might be a pain for grown-ups, let’s face it, six weeks is a long time, but there is a wonderful education opportunity for children not to be missed.

I vividly remember our camping trips as a family too. Every summer, we would pack up the car and drive to the coast and spend two amazing weeks under canvas. The moths, the chilly nights, collecting water in jerry cans, the trips to the loo in the middle of the night. I wouldn’t change it for the world. And now, as an adult I want exactly the same things for my children.

There is a condition that we have heard about in recent years called Nature Deficit Disorder. It sounds pretty sciencey, but it’s straight forward. Children today are spending significantly less time outdoors and as a result are suffering.  We are certainly living in a fast paced, changing world, but that shouldn’t change how and why we engage with our natural world surely?

The National Trust has recently published a list of the top 50 things you should do before you’re 11 and ¾. I have taken the test and have done at least 30 of them. It scares me that children today won’t have ever made a mud pie, built a den or made a grass trumpet and will never get to have those close encounters with the natural world that I did.

The summer holidays are a great time to get out and explore your local park or woods to see what adventures await. And who knows, you may tick some things of the list.

Check out the list here and find your local RSPB nature reserve here


Photo credit by Andy Hay (RSPB Images). Article found in Eastern Daily Press on Saturday 18 August 2012.