Trust aims to lure sofa-bound children to the great outdoors
"Sofa-bound" children who have lost touch with the great outdoors have been handed a must-do list of simple activities to help overcome the growing problem of "nature-deficit disorder".
The checklist is one of a number of measures aimed at reconnecting youngsters with nature after a report showed that rapidly dwindling numbers were taking advantage of their environment, even in the stunning landscapes offered in Devon and Cornwall.
The National Trust has published the list of 50 outdoor activities that every child should complete before they start secondary school.
Suggested adventures include running around in the rain, bug hunting, snail racing, flying a kite and even making a mud pie.
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The list – "50 things to do before you're 11-and-three-quarters" – was drawn up after research by the charity found that fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to half just a generation ago.
It forms the centrepiece of a new campaign to encourage so called "cotton wool" kids to take to the great outdoors.
To kick-start the revival, the trust is hosting a free weekend of its sites for children next weekend, April 21 and 22.
"We're hoping that the nation's children will embrace the 50 things," said Tony Berry, from the trust. "We hope they start having their very own outdoor adventures with their family, with our free weekend the perfect opportunity to get outside in the fresh air."
The Woodland Trust, which runs a Nature Detective programme available online to encourage children to explore woods in Devon, has welcomed the initiative.
Dave Rickwood, Woodland Trust site manager for Devon, said: "One of our key aims is to inspire children to get outside, and into woods in particular.
"Anything which encourages young people to embrace the beautiful countryside on our doorstep is a great idea.
"Our VisitWoods website lists 343 publicly accessible woods in Devon alone and has numerous ideas for things to do, similar to those suggested by the National Trust."
The National Trust initiative comes after a report commissioned by the trust from Stephen Moss, author, naturalist and TV producer found that children watch more than 17 hours of television a week and spending more than 20 hours a week online.
And despite the safety fears, three times as many children are hospitalised falling out of bed as the number injured from falling out of a tree
Leading the activities will be a newly-created group of "elite rangers" – five experts in a tree climbing, stone skimming, treasure hunting, building outdoor hideaways and all things bug-related.
A range of the trust's historic houses, estates, gardens and attractions are taking part in the promotion, though the trust has advised visitors to check its website for times before setting off.
The 50 Things to Do Before you’re 11-and-three-quarters
1. Climb a tree
2. Roll down a really big hill
3. Camp out in the wild
4. Build a den
5. Skim a stone
6. Run around in the rain
7. Fly a kite
8. Catch a fish with a net
9. Eat an apple from a tree
10. Play conkers
11. Throw some snow
12. Hunt for treasure on the beach
13. Make a mud pie
14. Dam a stream
15. Go sledging
16. Bury someone in the sand
17. Set up a snail race
18. Balance on a fallen tree
19. Swing on a rope swing
20. Make a mud slide
21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild
22. Take a look inside a tree
23. Visit an island
24. Feel like you're flying in the wind
25. Make a grass trumpet
26. Hunt for fossils and bones
27. Watch the sun wake up
28. Climb a huge hill
29. Get behind a waterfall
30. Feed a bird from your hand
31. Hunt for bugs
32. Find some frogspawn
33. Catch a butterfly in a net
34. Track wild animals
35. Discover what's in a pond
36. Call an owl
37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
38. Bring up a butterfly
39. Catch a crab
40. Go on a nature walk at night
41. Plant it, grow it, eat it
42. Go wild swimming
43. Go rafting
44. Light a fire without
45. Find your way with a map
46. Try bouldering
47. Cook on a campfire
48. Try abseiling
49. Find a geocache (like letterboxing)
50. Canoe down a river
How many have you completed? Vote in our poll to the right of this article.