George Monbiot wrote for his Guardian blog this week that children aren’t feral enough. They need to spend more time outdoors doing wild, active stuff.
Well, yes. This is one of my passions, and nature deficit disorder is well documented by organisations such at the National Trust.
However, this weekend, I slightly reviewed my opinion. I organised a 5th birthday party for my son. It was in the woods and involved a troop of 4 and 5 year-olds rampaging with sticks, building dens, climbing over obstacles and having a trailer ride in my brother’s truck.
The kids took it in their stride. They had fun, just as they do at the softplay or the go-carting. They really are pretty easy to please (space to run, food to eat, a bit of a party atmosphere).
However, it was the adults that were euphoric. They said how lovely it was and how unique. Grown-ups forgot their worries to get involved in den building and were delighted at having a cup of tea from the thermos, while actually in the woods.
Focusing on rewilding kids is wonderful and essential. But we forget the grown-ups at our peril. They are the ones that set the weekend’s agenda. If they are not happy in the woods then it simply won’t happen for the children. Whilst many of them will have had a more outdoorsy upbringing than today’s little ones, it was, for most, still far from rural idyll. That is a large part of the reason why today’s newest generation are cut off from nature. Their severance began before their births, back in their parent’s childhoods.
Schools can help reach today’s children, but we all know that the real education happens at home, and outdoors. Rewilding of parents is urgently required.
Meet me in the woods with your conkers, 2pm Tuesday.