By: Blonde Two
Any of us adults who enjoy getting out and about in the great outdoors will know that feeling we get when we haven’t got out there for a while. You might recognise some of the symptoms; snapping at people for no reason, sitting around on the sofa for longer than usual, staring out of the window when you should be working and eating inappropriate amounts of sugary snacks (actually, I do that when I am outside as well). As adults, we usually manage to work out what is wrong and have enough control over our lives to do something about it. Sometimes it takes a nudge from a friend to achieve this – Blonde One and I are both quite good at recognising when the other Blonde needs to give their walking boots some action (very nearly left mine in NZ – never mind earthquakes, that would have been a true disaster!)
The hypothesis (one of my favourite words) of Nature Deficit Disorder (Richard Louv) suggests that a) People, especially children exhibit behaviour problems if they don’t spend enough time outdoors and b) People, especially children are not spending enough time outdoors. I would like make my own Blonde suggestion at this point – that this is blindingly obvious and not a hypothesis at all. Anyone who has spent time with children outside will know that, particularly with the more difficult ones, you see a completely different side to them once you allow them to engage with the natural world.
Some schools, particularly primary schools, seem to be getting the idea of this and taking the outdoor thing more seriously. Forest schools are becoming more popular and forest school training is on the up. Others, sadly, are reducing outdoor education opportunities and I fear that youngsters are missing out on something important. The National Trust’s fantastic “50 Things” campaign this summer has recognised this and has been encouraging youngsters (and Blondes) to do more things that will get them in touch with nature – during my trip to New Zealand, I tried to do some of them and caught a fish, jumped over a wave, ran around in the rain, caught a fish, went star gazing, visited a farm, climbed a tree, checked out the crazy creatures in a rock pool and went swimming in the sea. They were all great fun and I recommend having a go at a few off the list yourself National Trust 50 Things.
It is easy to get fed up when you live in a tourist area and suddenly find your roads clogged with traffic and your favourite quiet spots filled with loud people – but maybe we should stop and think a bit about this fed-up-ness. If everyone, adults and children alike, has the need to experience the outdoors then those of us who are lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time in it should be pleased to see more people giving it a go.