Less than 10% of children today regularly play in natural places... The good news is, our forests and National Parks are huge, unexplored playgrounds.
33% of children can't identify a magpie, 50% can't tell the difference between a bee and a wasp...
The average screen time for children is now nearly five hours per day... We can swap some of those hours for outside play.
Playing outside is a fundamental part of childhood. It helps children to grow up healthily; it makes them familiar with the natural environment around them - and it’s great fun too!
But this simple childhood pleasure is diminishing. As screen time increases and our busy lives put a squeeze on family time, the opportunities for children to experience unstructured outside play are being lost. Experts view this as a worrying trend because outside play, as well as providing fresh air and exercise, is one of the essential ingredients for our children’s wellbeing, education, and social development.
There’s a broader benefit too; if our children are to become the guardians of the natural world as adults, we need to get them playing in that world as children. We can all remember the carefree summer days of our childhood, because outdoor play in a natural environment provides moments of discovery that create lifetime connections.
At Forest Holidays, these moments of discovery happen every day. Children have the freedom to explore and be inspired, while adults reaffirm their connection with the natural world. Young people's voices are now being heard on the world stage and their passion for the environment is compelling. We believe that providing more children with the chance to spend time in nature is vital to ensure the concerns of this generation don't go unheard. We are a small part of a much bigger picture, but we delight in being able to provide this opportunity to go ‘out to play.’ This simple pleasure has far-reaching benefits.
Reconnecting little ones with nature
Thousands of children every year who experience a Forest Holiday are given the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor freedom that most of us took for granted when we were children. They are exploring nature and learning about the forest and its wildlife. Many guests tell us that their children carry their new-found enthusiasm for nature back home with them.
We enjoy a relaxed opportunity to encourage children to care about nature, and have a dedicated Forest Ranger who is an expert in the local wildlife, at each location. Our Forest Rangers bring the forest to life for children, who uncover animal tracks, build dens, search for mini-beasts and learn about the forest and its wildlife. For adults too, there is a powerful reconnection with the natural world.
Many of our Forest Rangers are active in the local community too, visiting schools, providing forestry workshops and forest schools. By teaching children to build bug hotels and care for animal habitats, our Forest Rangers inspire the next generation to love and look after our natural environment.
Forest Holidays also works closely with other outdoor organisations, including Forestry England, UK National Parks and the National Forest, to promote outdoor learning and discovery opportunities across the UK, for adults and children.
Forest Ranger, Gerry
Forest of Dean
2019 marks the Year of Green Action and we are have pledged to support #iwill4nature, a campaign putting children and young people at its heart. Young people have the potential to make a huge difference to improving the environment through green action whilst developing valuable skills, experience and inspiring others to do more. We are part of a collection of partners working together to support and showcase the impact of youth green action. Find out more about our #iwill4nature pledge.
Why is time in nature vital to young people's lives? Childhood expert Tim Gill and young people themselves explain its transformational power.
Many parents who visit Forest Holidays locations say they see immediate benefits when their children are given the chance to spend time in nature.
Educating our children about nature, and making it part of their lives, is crucial to ensuring a bright future for our natural spaces – and it’s crucial to our children’s health too. We commit to:
Inspire guests through our Forest Ranger-led activity programme
Promote nature awareness and education through our Forestipedia blog
Build Forest Ranger education programmes for local schools and community groups
Support Forest School initiatives, for local children
Connect 20,000 young people with nature, through learning and activity experiences in the UK’s National Parks
Connect tens of thousands of young people with nature, giving hope for the future of our green spaces and wildlife