Born to be wild: Grandparents most adventurous in great outdoors

Grandparents were much more adventurous during their youth in the great outdoors than today’s youngsters – half of whom have never even climbed a tree, a survey shows.

With 61% of grandparents helping with childcare during school holidays they are the perfect motivators for getting kids to spend more time enjoying nature.

Parents looking for ways to get their kids to spend more time in the great outdoors during the summer holidays need look no further than willing grandparents, keen to spend quality time outside in nature with their grandchildren

Research by leading conservation charity, the National Trust, reveals grandparents are the key ingredient to helping today’s generation develop a connection with nature. Over three quarters (76%) claim they were far more explorative and daring in their youth compared to both their own children and grandchildren, with a huge majority (92%) saying that they take great enjoyment from teaching their grandchildren about these adventurous activities, such as building a den or flying a kite.

The research also reveals that 4 in 5 (79%) adults believe children today have less freedom to explore and play outdoors, compared to their own childhood. While 75% of grandparents said climbing trees was one of their favourite childhood memories, half (51%) said their grandchildren had not experienced this activity.

Nearly half (49%) of grandparents take on the role of childminding more than twice a week to support parents with this increasing during the school holidays by almost two-thirds of grandparents (61%). A whopping 9 in 10 (92%) said that when they do spend time with their grandchildren, they are keen to actively encourage them to take part in explorative outdoor play rather coop up indoors.

The research polled 1,000 grandparents and parents for the charity as part of its ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ initiative –  which aims to encourage families to get outdoors and enjoy spending time together – looks at the importance of outdoor family play and how this builds a stronger appreciation and connection to nature.

National Trust research also found:

· Children today spend 57% less time exploring outdoors than their parents and grandparents did – on average just 1 hour 20 mins a day, vs. 2 hours 40 mins (parents) and 3 and a half hours a day (grandparents)

· 87% of parents and grandparents said they enjoy seeing their offspring running wild and carefree, with 80% taking pleasure from seeing them playing outdoors away from technology devices

· In addition, 95% of parents and grandparents agree that it is important for children to connect with nature so that they can build a relationship with the great outdoors and help future generations care for and protect it

To celebrate the joyful experiences the natural world has to offer, the Trust has created a wildlife documentary-style film, bringing to life the innate connection we all have with nature with grandparents leading the way. To view the film, please visit: [insert appropriate url to YouTube full length edit]

Supporting the National Trust’s findings, Behavioural Psychologist Donna Dawson (BA, MSc, PhD) adds:

“Grandparents today are spending more and more time with their grandchildren in the roles of childminder and carer, and consequently getting to share real ‘quality time’ with them. And the research shows that one of the things they are sharing is a love of nature and the great outdoors, something that harks back to their own happy childhood memories. Learning to appreciate Nature at a young, impressionable age makes it much more likely that children will grow up to pass on their love of outdoor experiences to future generations. As a grandmother of seven, I have seen the effects on my grandchildren myself: they are never happier then when running free in the fresh air and sunshine, exploring and asking questions about the natural world around them.”

The National Trust, funded from the support of the public through membership and donations, is looking to inspire the next generation of children to plant their roots and kick-start a lifelong love affair with nature through its ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ initiative.

National Trust Ranger Kate Jones, adds: “This summer, we want to inspire children, parents and grandparents to get outdoors and develop their relationship with nature together as a family. With so many fantastic ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ events taking place at Trust locations across the country there’s no better time to go wild and explore the great outdoors taking inspiration from our challenges. We know that sharing these outdoor experiences with family and friends from a young age, helps to foster a stronger and more ingrained connection to nature, which we hope will be passed on for generations to come.”

For more information on the National Trust’s ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ campaign’, head to: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/50things or search #50things.

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