Some of my best memories of childhood are of the adventurous things I did, many of them as a Boy Scout. Some of them were daft, and some of them were definitely dangerous. Climbing the chalk scarp slope at Boxhill in plimsolls and no rope. Fighting a major fire on Headley Heath armed only with tree branches, until the fire brigade arrived. And cycling 50 miles to Brighton (and back again) on a whim, without a map, just half a crown in my pocket and not having told my parents I was going – at the age of 12. That one was both daft and dangerous, but 50 years later I’m still here to tell the tale.
Those outdoor activities and the risks we took were what made life fun – and kept us fit at the same time – and it’s my perception that children aren’t as active anymore. Consequently I was really pleased to read the National Trust’s list of 50 things a child should do before they’re 11 ¾ and not just to see the list but also the research and report they commissioned that sparked this off. There’s a danger that the reasons behind this list of exciting activities will be lost in the snappy headlines and précised short attention journalism that is so prevalent these days so I urge any parent or grandparent to read the full report on the National Trust website. It makes fascinating and rather frightening reading and it’s not surprising that they of all people should publish a report of this type. If today’s children don’t get outside more now, they certainly won’t when they’re adults, and where will the National Trust then find its members?
I like to think that here at Mulberry Bush over the years we’ve done our bit in encouraging children out into the fresh air having fun – some of our most popular items such as rope ladders, seascopes and pocket kites are fun outdoor toys. We’re putting up a few more suggestions on our Pinterest pages too. We’ll certainly be bearing the National Trust’s report in mind as we select for our next catalogue, and as parents and grandparents doing our bit to get the children in our families away from the TVs and computers and out in the open.