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

21/11/2013 16:23 | Updated 22 May 2015

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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