This week’s column comes from Chris Andrews, visitor services officer at RSPB Frampton Marsh.
The summer holidays are upon us. Lazy days filled with not doing much (harassed parents may beg to differ!). But what do kids actually do these days?
When I was young (and it wasn’t all that long ago!) summer was for getting outside. Bike rides, building a dam in the local stream, building a den with friends in the local wood. Or even just lying on the grass and watching the clouds fly by, trying to spot animals or faces. But more and more it seems like these simple pleasures are forgotten. If it doesn’t involve electronic kit costing a couple of hundred pounds, it just isn’t done. And that is a real shame. Partly from the point of view of harassed parents’ finances, but also because children today are getting ever more disconnected from nature.
For far too many youngsters today, the countryside is something that rolls past the car window. That is, if they even notice and aren’t too engrossed in the latest handheld game. It is something to be tolerated, not enjoyed. Ever more kids know nothing about what is out there. How can we hope to protect the countryside and all its many treasures, when the next generation looks upon it with apathy?
So here is a call to action for all you parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. This summer, don’t let the kids stay indoors. Hide the controllers to the game console. And get them outside and enjoying themselves.
Because here is the odd thing. Kids still love nature, given half the chance. I see it all the time with our summer events at Frampton Marsh. From preschoolers to ‘too cool for school’ teens, as soon as you get them pond dipping or looking for creepy crawlies, they get right into it and have a whale of a time.
So this summer, ditch the TV and the Wii. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Have a picnic. Or spend the night sleeping under the stars, even in your own back garden. I mean, when was the last time you did that? The simple pleasures of sitting around in the dark, telling ghost stories and toasting marshmallows. We are even having a camping out event at RSPB Frampton Marsh. Because the more kids connect with nature, the better the future for our environment will be.