Ben Fogle says: re-wild your child!
Traveller, adventurer and dad: Ben Fogle talks about his love for woods and trees, and suggests ways to inspire your young naturalists.
Every youngster has the potential to be an intrepid explorer, but nurturing your child’s adventurous spirit is something that begins closer to home than you may realise.
Trees are for adventure and life
Embracing nature and all it has to offer is so important; it encourages you to care for the environment and take pleasure simply from being outdoors. Though when we think about ‘getting out there’ we sometimes forget there’s a big, wide world on our doorstep.
So, even though my family lives in a busy city, we make sure trees and woods feature in our day-to-day lives - whether that’s when walking our dog Storm, or spending time out with the family.
And we’ve got a special, emotional connection to them as well. I met my wife Marina in Hyde Park, and we scattered our dog Inca’s ashes by a small hawthorn sapling there. So, it’s no exaggeration to say that trees are deeply rooted in our lives.
Summer is an opportunity
But, of course, the summer holidays offer a special opportunity that can’t be missed. Long, sunny days leave no excuse for not stepping beyond the norm and re-connecting with our wild side.
So, here’s the challenge: find a wood near you and treat the whole day as a step into the unknown; what will you learn about the environment, and what animals will you encounter? I think there’s so much more to wildlife spotting than just sitting about with a pair of binoculars!
- Move through the wood and spot signs of life. There could be tracks, burrows, scraps of fur or even poo. Find your primal instinct and open your eyes to the clues you might otherwise miss.
- Then set up a hide to watch from! Utilise your den building abilities and ask your kids to think about the textures of the materials they use, and get them to test the strength of sticks. Would it be enough to shelter them from the wind and the rain?
- Now you’ve set up a temporary camp, keep an eye and ear out for birds and mammals. Once you’ve learnt which birds are flitting about, can you recognise their songs?
What will you discover?
The joy of being a Nature Detective is that no two outings are ever the same. We’ve got loads of activities for you to get stuck into, no matter where you’re off to or what adventure you’re having. Just make sure you let us know what you’ve been up to, and share your ideas for a wild day out!