What's so great about the great outdoors?
Why are families of the digital age abandoning the comforts of their living rooms for the sights and smells of our green spaces? For the health benefits, perhaps? For the inexpensive or entirely free fun to be had? How about the endless adventures beckoning, or the invaluable educational benefits?
Yes, that pretty much sums it up.
As well as the obvious appeals - the fresh air, breathtaking scenery, and the company of other members of the animal kingdom - it's the wonderful puzzles and exciting challenges of outdoor living. All people, particularly the young ones, enjoy puzzles and challenges, and life out of doors presents them at every turn. From the simple and almost intuitive conundrums, like tackling an overgrowth of undergrowth and an obstacle course of fallen trees and puddles, to the character building feats of lighting fires with wet firewood, and improvising that do-hicky that you have at home that would have been really useful if you could have fitted everything you own into a rucksack.
Nature, also know as the outdoor classroom, presents endless opportunities to develop one's problem solving abilities, using the only resources you're guaranteed to have throughout your whole life; your hands and your imagination, and those of your team (friends and family). From this, children and adults draw more and more confidence, while skills of communication, teamwork and leadership flourish. It really isn't just about teaching people to survive.
Children are being inspired by TV survivalists to get outside and give bushcraft a go themselves, come rain or shine. Anything that gets kids excited about venturing into the fresh air for a few hours is surely a good thing, but this isn't about training the next generation to survive the apocalypse. Whereas survivalists use the trials of nature to test their bushcraft skills, families across the country are using bushcraft skills to enjoy the benefits of nature.
So here's how you get your family started in the great outdoors.
1) Dress yourself for the beautiful British climate. Someone very wise once said "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing"
2) Find somewhere with trees. These places look green on Google maps.
3) As a family, decide on your adventure for the day. Start with something easy, like jumping in every puddle between the car park and the top of the hill, or building a shelter using only sticks and foliage. You can work your way up to actually sleeping out in it and cooking up a three course meal in a hole in the ground.
4) Find out what's going on around you. There's no need to be shy; courses exist to help indoor people become outdoor people, and tend to be run by some of the friendliest of folk. Why wouldn't they be friendly and happy, when they get to work outdoors?
5) Get on youtube. Right now. Outdoorsy bushcrafty types love posting videos showing how to do all the awesome things they do outdoors.
6) Try all those things.
7) Share your photos and videos of yourselves doing all the #awesomethingsyoudooutdoors.