Children thrive on having adventures outdoors. Kayaking past river banks, the satisfaction of building a den from branches and bracken, searching rock pools for crabs and gently prodding fingers into anemones, these are the moments nature can offer that create excitement, experiences and stoke childhood memories.
Spending time outdoors activates and feeds all your children’s senses and improves their physical health, mental and emotional well-being, self-confidence and resilience. Yet sadly, just 21% of today’s kids regularly play outside, compared with 71% of their parents.
So if a run around in the park is losing its appeal, here are some ways to ramp up the excitement and introduce children to new nature adventures.
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Paddling down calm canals in canoes or exploring coastal caves by sea kayak is an exciting experience for the whole family. You can find out where to enjoy a starter session, take a guided tour or discover new water routes near you at Go Canoeing
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SUP is the fastest growing sport in the world, primarily because it suits every age and level of fitness. You can SUP
on calm rivers, the sea or for the adrenaline-thirsty teens there's even white water rides in the UK.
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Cycling beats watching the world go by from the back seat of an air-condtioned car. The best cycle routes offer the opportunity for competitive dashes as well as time to chat as you pass glorious countryside. Choose a traffic-free national cycle network route
that best suits your kids' ages and family style - sprints through woodlands, blood-pumping mountainous climbs or leisurely lanes and canal paths. And to ramp up the adrenaline with vertiginous drops and hilltop peddling, what about a family mountain biking adventure?
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Kids love camping. Team up with another family with similar age children for maximum wild fun. Whether you choose the more comfortable option of glamping with home-from-home duvets and wood-burning stoves or hammering in your own tent pegs and blowing up mattresses, it's well worth seeking out sites where fires are allowed for the full camping experience. (Toasting marshmallows on sticks and telling spooky ghost stories are optional.) Cool camping
has a list of sites that allow campfires.
Why not take a visit to an aquarium where the kids can come face-to-face with sharks and turtles and get astonishingly close views of everything from the humble starfish to magical seahorses? On a visit to a SEA LIFE aquarium, your children will be able to discover the beautiful tropics of Stingray Bay, experience the humidity of the Rainforest Adventure, go underneath the waves in the underwater tunnels and pop up in the bubble tanks to say hello to the clownfish! Visit the SEA Life website
to find your closest Centre.
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Poking around in tide pools on the beach is one of the best parent-child shared experiences. Coaxing your little one to press a finger into ruby anemones and feel the corresponding suction, discovering skittering crabs hiding in seaweed, making a fabulous collection of strange-shaped, sea-smoothed stones, pretty shells and, if you’re lucky, fossils, these are just some of the fabulous finds awaiting you. And then of course there’s the pure physical joy of running in and out of surf and leaping down sand dunes.
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Kids love the thrill of being out in the dark. Take torches for spooky face-pulling and to seek out nocturnal creatures like bats, owls, hedgehogs and munching slugs. Download a stargazing app like Sky Map or SkyView to help identify constellations on clear nights.
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Nothing beats the thrill of plunging into refreshingly cold water on a hot summer day. And even better if there's a rope swing or rock to jump from. Google wild swimming for beginners and you'll find lots of suggestions for local locations, from London's Serpentine to the wilds of Scotland, including calm rivers, natural lakes and seaside coves. Children need to be confident swimmers (although pool wading is still fun) and you need to keep a constant vigil.
Even if the water's not deep enough for swimming, building an elaborate dam, fishing for minnows and skimming stones can all be stocked in your child's memory bank of nature adventures.
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Children love the idea of fending for themselves in the wood, whether it's den-building, starting a campfire or whittling sticks. For Bear Grylls wannabes there are bushcraft and survival skills throughout the UK. Check out the National Trust
and Forestry Commission
for your nearest.
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Woodlands are natural play areas for kids, from family games of Capture The Castle and Hide And Seek to tree climbing. To ramp up the excitement factor, Go Ape
locations around the UK offer tree-top adventures and zip wires galore or segway trips for a big day out.
Make the most of the warm summer weather by planning a great day out just like the family we featured in our Big Family Adventure video. Pack a picnic lunch and some special treats like Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddos. Choc-full of fun, delicious Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddos are made with fresh milk from British farms, for the perfect frog-shaped treat!