PARENTS

Stop The Screens For A Year: The Kids Who Completed 100 Outdoor Challenges

11/12/2017 11:50 GMT



Imagine a world in which our children's eyes are round, not square from staring at the television for hours on end.

Imagine a world where our children's faces are a-glow from fresh air and exercise instead of the heat of a computer screen.

Imagine a world in which our children let their imaginations run riot and go on adventures for real instead of via the games on their tablets and smartphones.

Just imagine it. Tim and Kerry Meek did just that - and then made it a reality for their daughters, Amy, 10, and Ella, eight.

For a whole year, they stopped their girls watching TV and playing computer games and set them 100 outdoor challenges to complete.

A year on, they have just ticked off the last of them – sleeping in a 'tentsile', a sort of cross between a hammock and a tent which is suspended between two trees.

And the sisters enjoyed themselves so much they are now helping to draw up a fresh list of challenges for the next 12 months – and their TV viewing has been reduced to just three hours a week.

Over the past year the girls have been involved in activities as wide ranging as making a rope swing, preparing and drinking nettle soup and watching a meteor shower from a beach-side bivvy.

Others involved caving, kayaking and hiking – all come rain, shine or snow.

Some of the challenges – which the Meeks estimate cost only £500 to complete – happened on days out from the family's home in Arnold, Nottinghamshire, at weekends; others during trips to Northumberland, Scotland, Pembrokeshire, and the South West of England.

And they weren't all action-adventure - one involved making a meal for their mum on Mother's Day.

Ella said: "Our friends spend a lot of their free time watching telly or playing on computer games in their bedrooms, luckily we've had the chance to do something different."

Dad Tim, 44, a teacher at a special needs school, said: "We're just normal, everyday people and not adventurous ourselves, but as we saw our kids growing up, we became more reflective as parents and wanted them to grow up with balance in their lives.

"I think kids these days spend more time indoors than we did. They may do a lot of activities, but they don't necessarily have freedom to express themselves or explore freely.

"They are protected from risks which makes them very safe, but it makes them unable to take or to manage risks themselves.

"Of course, we always want Ella and Amy to do things safely, but in most of the challenges there's an element of something could happen, they could graze themselves or trap a finger, say.

"Now, if they fall over they tend to shrug it off. Our girls have taken on a role as ambassadors for adventure."

Mum Kerry, 39, a primary school teacher, added: "It's just about giving things a go and trying things out.

"My favourite activity was bivvy bagging [where a waterproof cover is put over a sleeping bag so you can sleep outdoors without a tent] as we got to sleep under the stars and saw a meteor shower on a beach on the Norfolk coast.

"I didn't like the idea at all at first but it was incredible. You wouldn't have witnessed that in a tent and we saw it together as a family."

The family have documented their incredible year on their website Do Try This at Home. If you fancy inspiring your kids to give up TV for a a year, too, here are the Meeks' 100 Outdoor Challenges.

1. Slacklining (walking on a rope between two trees)
2. Scooter Safari
3. Caving
4. Spend the night in a hammock
5. Canoe down a river
6. Adventure led by the girls
7. Sleep in a wood
8. Watch rutting deer
9. Learn survival skills
10. Sleep on a beach
11. Forage for a meal
12. Support a cause (Comic Relief)
13. Snorkelling
14. Go for a reptile ramble
15. Find a private beach
16. Climb the Eiffel Tower
17. Kayak Safari
18. Camp in a city
19. Swim in a natural pool
20. Sleep in a cahutte
21. Coasteering
22. Orienteering race
23. Outdoor birthday party
24. Walk on high ropes
25. Make a rope swing
26. Sleep in a Bivvy-Bag
27. See a henge from sunset to sunrise
28. Sleep in a family-size sleeping bag
29. Kayaking
30. Community work
31. Climb and abseil
32. Sailing
33. Walk a peninsula
34. See a puffin
35. Watch wild seals
36. Play conkers
37. Go off-road hiking
38. Sleep in a shelter
39. Climb an epic summit
40. Camper-vanning
41. Cook and eat in the wild
42. Wake and run
43. Bivvy by a river
44. Tag team cycle trail
45. Learn a constellation
46. Whittle (carve) while you walk
47. Sub-zero camping
48. Snow walking
49. Floodlit swan feed
50. Discover local history
51. Find a summit
52. Go without electricity for 24 hours
53. Weaseling (climbing between gaps in rocks)
54. Night-time descent
55. Eat nettle soup
56. Enter a race
57. Explore rock pools
58. Cook on a beach
59. Dam a stream
60. Explore a cave
61. Explore a wreck
62. Find a waterfall
63. Take on the elements
64. Body-boarding
65. Wild river swim
66. Mountain biking
67. Going to the toilet outside
68. Go behind a waterfall
69. Coastal walk
70. Music festival
71. Visit a landmark
72. Walk to a tidal island
73. Sleep in an eco-tent
74. Spot red squirrels
75. Climb a 'matterhorn'
76. Walk down a river
77. Geocaching (GPRS treasure hunting)
78. Clean a beach
79. Scramble
80. Walk around a city
81. Orienteering
82. Night-time wood walk
83. Snow hiking
84. Cook with snow
85. Visit a suspension bridge
86. Three peaks in three day
87. Climb a winter summit
88. Ghyll scrambling (walking through gorges)
89. Make meal for mum on Mother's Day
90. Play in snowdrifts
91. Backpacking
92. Tracking and mapping
93. Visit London
94. Build a bridge
95. Crabbing
96. Night walk in a forest
97. Off-peak camping
98. Skiing
99. Climb indoors
100.Tentsile (hammock-like tent)

More on Parentdish: Project Wild Thing: The dad with a mission to get children outside

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