OVER HALF OF UK ADULTS PLAYED OUTSIDE EVERYDAY WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG, COMPARED TO JUST 24% OF KIDS TODAY. The nation’s favourite adventurer, Bear Grylls
, gives us some tips to get kids back outside and learn forgotten childhood skills.
Today’s children are spending significantly less time than their parents did having adventures outside and, as a result, have missed out on learning the great outdoor skills that were once taken for granted. Over half of UK adults played outside everyday when they were young, compared to just 24% of kids today; a decline of almost half.
Activities such as hide and seek, hill-rolling and climbing trees should transcend the generation gap but, according to new research by Persil small & mighty
, one in 10 under tens never play outside and a third stay indoors and rely on ready-made fun instead of making their own. The research was conducted online by OnePoll with 1000 UK parents aged between 25 and 45.
After school play has evolved from riding a bike (26% of parents) and playing sports (23% of parents), to playing computer games and watching TV – the most popular activities with children (31.5%). Only 14% play sports and just one in ten regularly ride a bike. Favourite characters to role-play during playtime have also changed, with almost a third of parents claiming they enjoyed acting out Cowboys and Indians, compared to a third of children who now prefer to role-play television characters such as Spiderman, Ben 10 and Dora the Explorer.
When parents were young, they learned outdoor skills such as tying a rope swing and building a den, so the ultimate face of outdoor adventure and dad of three, Bear Grylls, has created a ‘Top Ten Things To Do Before You’re Ten’ handbook, designed to get kids playing, having fun and getting mucky!
Bear said: “It’s important to teach kids to enjoy some free and simple outdoor adventures. Soggy wellies, grassy knees and muddy hands should be part of growing up. Whether it’s using their imagination to play games outside or learning a new skill like building a den, I want more kids to enjoy outside activities and experience a bit of adventure!”
Here are Bear Grylls’ Top Ten Things To Do Before You’re Ten
If there’s one thing I try to live by it is to try to get the most out of life. At 23, I was lucky to become one of the youngest climbers to scale Everest, which had been my childhood dream since my father gave me a photo of Everest when I was eight. Now I have three young sons, I always try to encourage them to follow their dreams and look after their friends along the way.
We live in an age of X-Boxes and TV-on-demand. But there is so much more to life. Great outdoor activities transcend the generation gap, and soggy wellies, grassy knees and muddy feet should all still be part of growing up. So, in conjunction with Persil small & mighty
, I present Bear Grylls’ Top Ten Things To Do Before You’re Ten. (But you don’t really need to be under ten to enjoy them. I’m 37 and I couldn’t think of a happier week than testing out all of these!)
1. FIND THE PERFECT CATAPULT TWIG
Bear says: “Every school boy and girl needs a working catapult to play with, and for this you’re going to need a carefully chosen Y-shaped twig, and some elastic band. Stretch the elastic bands between the forks of the Y and you have an instant catapult, perfect for my favourite ammunition – marshmallows. You could try lining up empty cans as targets to shoot – just make sure you don’t aim your catapult at a person, I don’t want you hurting anyone!”
2. PERFECT THE PERFECT HILL ROLL!
Bear says: “Rolling down a hill is an art form – and a great way to race your friends. If you roll sideways, remember you need to have your arms out straight to steer; or you’ll end up going around in circles. If you roll head-over-heels, be sure to curl into as tiny ball as possible and cushion the back of your neck with your hands. But why roll one at a time when you can do a double roll with a friend? Try sitting in each other’s lap and forming a ball. Or even a triple roll with two friends? Just remember to look where you’re going, and prepare to feel dizzy at the end!”
3. BECOME A HIDE-AND-SEEK CHAMPION!
Bear says: “Survival is all about adapting to your environment and fitting in with your surroundings. It’s not just about getting back to nature, it’s also about looking like you’re part of nature! So next time you play hide-and-seek, don’t just hide there. Get involved! It’s amazing how easy it is to spot a human face – even from a mile off. A few streaks of mud on your face will make you a lot harder to find. Try sticking some twigs and leaves in your pockets too to break up your shape. The more you break up the distinct human shape the better. But don’t camouflage too well or your parents may never find you! And always stay close to them just to be safe.”
4. BUILD A DEN- INDOORS OR OUT!
Bear says: “Somewhere cosy to sleep is just as important if you’re ten or 110. Luckily, not all dwellings require something as grown up as a mortgage…”
“If you’re inside, take four chairs (make sure your mum and dad aren’t having a dinner party first) into the living room and place two side-to-side and back-to-back two metres apart. Throw over a bed sheet and you’ve got your very own indoor den. Just add two sleeping bags – perfect for your very own sleepover, with plenty of bear hugs to keep warm.”
IN THE GARDEN
Bear says “You’ll need to find some flat ground – and make sure it’s dry – if it’s wet you will get cold very quickly. First find two trees about four wide steps apart and tie a piece of rope between them. Cover the ground of your den with something waterproof (like a ground sheet), then get a sheet from indoors and throw it over the rope to create your roof. Put some rocks or logs on each corner to stop it blowing away. If it’s drizzly out, gather some big ferns or leaves to stop the rain soaking through the sheet. Make sure when you lay the ferns down there are no gaps – a soggy den isn’t fun for anyone! Take in your sleeping bags, a torch, and there you have it- the Ultimate Outdoor Den!”
5. BUILD A ROPE SWING
Bear says: “With the help of an adult, tie a buntline hitch knot (look it up) to the end of some rope. Tie a piece of twine as long as the rope to the other with something small but heavy like a padlock on the end, and throw the weight over the best swinging branch you can find. Hoist up the rope, remove the twine, slip the rope through the hitch knot and pull until the rope is secured. Tie a small log for a seat with a double constrictor knot, get an adult to ensure the knot is super secure and hey presto- one swinging rope swing.”
6. NURSE THOSE STINGS
Bear says: “Every good survivalist carries a first aid kit. I’d have been in all sorts of trouble over the years without mine. But sometimes nature can provide a great remedy. I’m talking about the natural remedy for stinging nettles. Dock leaves are notable by their flat, green leaves, and usually grow nearby to those pesky stingers. If you’ve been stung badly, the best thing to do is to chew up a doc leaf and rub your leafy spit on your wound. Dock leaves contain natural antihistamine and your saliva has natural healing powers too. Eeeeooo but true.”
7. TRY AND COUNT THE STARS
Bear says: “Counting the stars might seem as impossible as trying to count all the cornflakes in a box of cereal. You can actually see around 2000 stars on a clear night, grouped into different constellations. Even I’d have a hard time trying to remember them all. But if someone in your family has an iphone, get them to download the free Google Sky app. With a family member for company, venture outside. Point the phone at the sky on a clear night and your guided tour will begin; just make sure your parents know where you are- even if it’s just your garden!”
8. MAKE A MUD PIE
Bear says: “I’ve eaten some pretty horrible things on my survival missions, from yak eyeballs to camel intestines to elephant poo. But I’ve never been so hungry I’ve had to eat mud. But maybe you could tempt me with a mud pie? Ask your mum if she has any old pots and pans (don’t just help yourself) or buy some from the charity shop. Next, we’ll need some ingredients. Lots of lovely mud, flower petals, grass, leaves, conkers, whatever you can find. Mix it all up in a big pot with some water, tip it into your serving dish and leave to cook in the sun. It will soon look just like a real cake – just don’t try and eat this one!”
9. MAKE A COMPASS – OUT OF PAPER
Bear says: “Knowing where I am is vital on survival trips. So I always use a compass to tell me which way is north. And you can make one at home out of paper. Fold a small piece of square paper in half. Get an adult to magnetise two needles by sliding them over a magnet and tape them safely parallel but in opposite directions to either side of the folded paper. Stick a third needle into a ball of blue tack and carefully balance the paper compass on top and watch as it magically pivots to north. Be careful with the needles as they are tricky little things, and make sure you have adult supervision to do this!”
10. PICK YOUR OWN PUDDING
Bear says: “Foraging for food is one of the first things you learn in survival. I’ve survived on diets of everything from grasshoppers to turtles, but only so you don’t have to. One of the easiest foods to forage for are blackberries. They grow in autumn all over the place. Make sure you wear gloves to protect your fingers from the thorns and get filling up your pockets or carrier bags. If you can find some apples too, your mum should be able to cook you the perfect apple and blackberry crumble! Perfect teamwork in action!”
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