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“Some of us are drawn to mountains the way the moon draws the tide. Both the great forests and the mountains live in my bones. They have taught me, humbled me, purified me and changed me.”
~ Joan Halifax
Nature is the greatest sanctuary for a child, a place that offers complete freedom for the soul, a place of total escapism from the pressures of society. The role of nature in childhood is diminishing, but how incredible would it feel to rebalance this within your own family, to pack your bags and head into the wilderness? Take a weekend out; turn off your phones, breathe in the air, stop and listen to nature.
Your children will continue reap the benefits long after the experience itself.
The below article, kindly shared with us by freelance nature writer Jennifer Raphael, offers an insight into the damaging effect too much screen time has on children and wonderful ideas for families wanting to spend time in the wilderness.
Fun Wilderness Survival Tips for Adventurous Families
It is no secret that children can benefit greatly from spending time in nature. Children are, however, more inclined to spend time in front of a screen than outdoors according to the NHS
. While this may be a cause for concern, there are countless ways to entice a child to spend time in nature. One effective and very exciting method involves the entire family embarking on an adventure in the wilderness. If you do not have years of experience roughing it out in the wild it may be a very good idea to gain some basic survival skills before setting off on your trip. Whether you decide to go on a day-long hike or have your heart set on a weekend campout, here are a few basic tips that will help you survive in the wilderness.
Learn to Make a Fire
Of all the survival skills you could acquire
, being able to make a fire is probably one of the most important, apart from learning first aid basics. A fire can be used to keep you warm, purify water and, of course, cook food on. Even if you are camping in one of the many well-equipped camping grounds across the UK
where you do not have to contend with dirty water, making a campfire can be both fun and educational. If you want to make your fire-making efforts as painless as possible, make sure you take a couple of lighters or plenty of matches along with you on your camping trip or you will have to make do with sticks and kindling. It may be a good idea to teach your children how to safely make a fire prior to your camping trip. This can be done right in your backyard and you can even throw in a few campfire cooking tutorials as well.
Know how to Dress for the Weather
While teaching your children how to pick out their clothes according to the weather may hardly seem important, it is actually a very important survival skill to have. When out in the wilderness you will undoubtedly be exposed to the elements as well as different types of plants and a multitude of bugs. Explain the importance of covering up and dressing for the weather to your children and have fun playing dress-up according to different scenarios. Reiterate how important it is to always carry a jacket with you, even if it is sunny and warm, and don’t forget to teach them about the importance of wearing sunscreen, regardless of what the weather is like.
Our number one item to pack on any camping trip is the Töastie Pack-a-Way Puffer
; made from recycled down this is soft and warm yet light and breathable. It also packs down into a handy little travel bag which can hang from the back of a rucksack or double as a comfy pillow at the end of the day.
Basic Hunting and Gathering Skills are a Must
Being able to hunt and gather for food are superb survival skills to have. It can also help foster an appreciation for nature in children. When teaching these skills to children it is important to keep both their ages and abilities in mind. While some five-year-olds may be perfectly capable of baiting a fishing hook, it might result in a trip to the doctor with others. Show them how to identify edible mushrooms
*, berries, seeds, and roots and have a fun cookout with foods ‘foraged’ from the garden. Foraging is such a highly satisfying activity for the whole family to partake in, even if your car is loaded with heaps of scrumptious snacks.
The Woodland Trust have a handy guide
to foraging in February. The good news is that sunny dandelions are in season and below is the a Winnie-the-Pooh worthy recipe for Dandelion Honey, courtesy of @thetaylortable
Ingredients (equal volumes of):
Golden caster sugar (white ok too)
Juice of half a lemon
1. We picked 100g of dandelion heads which made us one jar. (A bigger jar than the one photographed!) But you actually need to work in volumes not grams with a cup or bowl.
2. Over a bowl start by cutting the green bits off the bottom of the flower heads so you’re just left with the yellow part of the flower.
3. Tip in a saucepan and then fill the bowl with the same volume of water. Add to the saucepan, stir and simmer for 20 mins with a lid on.
4. Sieve the flowers over a bowl and push all of the liquid out of the flowers with a spoon.
5. Return the liquid to the pan, add the sugar and the lemon juice, bring to the boil stirring.
6. Turn heat down and simmer for another 25 minutes (without a lid).
7. Tip into a clean jar, allow to cool then put in the fridge. Once it completely cools it will thicken more. The consistency is a little runnier than real honey.
For more foraging ideas, take a look at our blog post 'Foraging for the Family Table
' where Stephanie and her children show us how to make Dandelion Honey, Wild Garlic Pesto and Wild Garlic, Asparagus and Mozzarella Homemade Pizza. Recipe wins for all the family.
* I must add the disclaimer that while this is useful to understand the key features to look out for in poisonous mushrooms, we would strongly advise you err on the side of caution when foraging for mushrooms and unless you're with an experienced mushroom picker and feel 100% confident then don't risk it. Poisonous mushrooms can be fatal so stay alert, Tiny Explorers.
There is huge great world out there and adventure that yearns to be experienced deep in all of us. Experiences soaring heights above anything that a phone can offer. This year, make a change, let that adventure in.
"The important things. Number one, you've got to have a dream. Number two, you've got to not listen to the dream stealers."
~ Bear Grylls, Becoming X