In celebration of the start of summer, the National Trust has announced the top activities from its popular 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ kids challenge.
The campaign aims to help children get outdoors and closer to nature with a list of simple pleasures such as tree climbing, building dens and hunting for bugs.
First launched in 2012, 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ has seen over 90,000 of the nation’s youngsters sign up to tackle the bucket list to date.
In the south east nearly 25,000 kids have pledged online to complete the challenge.
A survey of these youngsters shows the most popular activities that have been completed by kids in the south east.
Here are five of the top activities, and the best place to try them in West Sussex:
Climb a tree – try this at Petworth House and Park, where you can explore the wide expanses of parkland to seek out huge old trees to scale. Another great place to experience tree climbing is on the picturesque Slindon estate.
Roll down a hill - try this at Petworth House and Park which has a brilliant site called Lawn Hill, and a soft-lawn landing! Why not race a friend and see if you can perfect your technique? Uppark House and Garden’s Mound – a steep bank in the middle of the gardens – is already a really popular site for rolling, so come over and test it out.
Build a den – try this in the woodlands around the beautiful gardens of Nymans, and Uppark, where wood piles are left out specifically for this purpose. Another top den building location is the Woolbeding Estate, tucked away in the tranquil Rother Valley. Cosy dens are great for secret meetings, games, and hiding from parents!
Jump over waves – try this at East Head – a beautiful place of sand dunes and sea, which is quieter than its neighbour West Wittering. On weekends and Wednesdays the ranger team are bringing their Dune Bug vehicle down to the beach, where they’ll be introducing families to East Head Safaris and all the ’50 things’ challenges that kids can attempt in the dunes, from bug hunting to wild art. Call 01243 814730 for further information
Hunt for bugs – try this at Nymans on Saturday July 19 and Sunday July 20, 10.30am-3.30pm, normal admission charge only, call 01444 405250. An entire weekend of bug-themed family activities, and a chance to tick off some more ’50 things’ tasks. Come bug hunting in the beautiful wildflower meadow using sweep nets, then examine your findings under a magnifying glass.
There’s a Wild Beast Safari at the Slindon Estate on Thursday July 31, 2-4pm, £2, book on 01243 814730. Young explorers on this organised trail might be able to cross off two ’50 things’ challenges in one go – hunt for bugs (No.31) and hold a scary beast (No.30). Come on safari with a member of the ranger team to discover the many weird and wonderful mini beasts that live amongst the woods and fields here. Look out for shield bugs, moths and stag beetles.
Our 50 things star property
This summer Nymans is running the Special Ten ’50 things’ summer challenge: Saturday July 26 to Sunday August 31, normal admission charge only.
Nymans is setting kids a special ’50 things’ challenge, in return for a unique scrapbook certificate. Its extensive gardens, wildflower meadows and picturesque woodland make it a great place to get cracking on outdoors adventures, but how about completing ten of the Trust’s 50 things tasks in one day? From geocaching to bug hunting, den building to animal tracking, kids will be given a list of ten challenges to complete, before they set off on their own adventure across Nymans’ varied landscapes and terrains.
The National Trust is aiming to get 200,000 kids playing outside this summer as part of its commitment to connect children with nature. By September the conservation charity hopes to have helped one in twenty of Britain’s seven to 12 year olds (five per cent) break their reliance on gadgets and computers for entertainment, and experience the simple pleasures of outdoor adventure.
To take part on the 50 things challenge this summer, simply pick up a scrapbook at your local property or download a planner to help you decide where to go at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/london-and-south-east.
Sign up to the challenge online at www.50things.org.uk
Report and pictures contributed by National Trust London and the South East.