1:31pm Thursday 1st March 2012
We believe that reconnecting more people, particularly children, with the wild world through exploring and enjoying is the only way to increase their understanding of nature.
Steve Backshall, President of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and all-round outdoor action man and wildlife enthusiast, first fell in love with wild places as a young child. He remembers playing in the garden, digging up worms, following butterflies and finding shiny beetles hiding under stones.
Those early natural adventures, that sense of freedom and all those thrilling discoveries have stayed with him and helped to make him what he is today. Shouldn’t all children have the chance to have such experiences?
Jo and I set up our partnership Going Wild! to tempt more children outdoors and discover the wonders of nature. There are so many ways to start enjoying and appreciating wild places, so our books are full of simply described and fully-illustrated activities; we aim to provide something for everyone.
The key is to make it fun, and local organisations like BBOWT offer a wealth of opportunities for children to find out more about wildlife. As a trustee I appreciate what the local Wildlife Trust is doing for families and schools.
There are three environmental education centres, one in each county, and fantastic nature reserves where families can go to explore, watch wildlife and make up their own ‘going wild’ games.
Through their outreach service, BBOWT provides support and practical advice to schools and communities, helping them to discover wildlife in their nearby green spaces.
Family membership of the Wildlife Trust includes Wildlife WATCH, an environmental action club with a really wild website, tips about wildlife spotting from naturalist Nick Baker, a magazine and lots of stickers and games.
The scent of spring is in the air now, so why not head for the woods and encourage your children to pick up a stick?
It may be just a stick to you — but a stick can be anything you want it to be, a toy you need never tire of! It could be a knight’s sword or a wizard’s magic wand, a piece of kindling or a drum stick, or an arrow to make a trail for friends to follow. Or maybe it could be transformed into a scary monster, a crazy creature or even a raft for a little stick man.
In our latest book The Stick Book, we use the stick, a totally free resource, as a starting point for limitless adventures, games and activities.
On March 31, Jo and I are hosting Adventures With Sticks, a day of wonderful things to do with sticks at College Lake nature reserve in Buckinghamshire.
Adventures With Sticks is open from 11am to 3pm with storytelling, face painting, and of course, lots of things to make with sticks going on all the time, so you can drop in whenever you like.
Going wild isn’t just about getting out to amazing nature reserves — what about discovering what’s on your own doorstep, in the school grounds or at the local park? There are pockets of wildness everywhere if only you look for them.
So next time you pick up a stick at a nature reserve or the local park, spare a thought for what it might become and where it might lead you . . .
Information about Adventures With Sticks from www.bbowt.org.uk/reserves/college-lake or call 01442 826774.
Going Wild! books and activities www.goingwild.net
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