As more and more families become reliant on technology for their entertainment Rangers at Moors Valley Country Park in East Dorset are using the same resources to encourage them to put aside their tablets and mobiles and go outside to make memories.
‘Safety’ is just one of the reasons often quoted for staying inside for family fun, along with the ‘stress’ of organising an outing and the ‘high cost’ of a day out. In fact, according to a recent poll for Britax, whilst nearly two thirds of the 2,000 parents polled recognised that outdoor fun is important in terms of building family memories, around one third don’t believe that taking their children outside is fun any more.
Matt Reeks, Community and Open Spaces Manager at Christchurch and East Dorset District Council said, “The last two decades have seen childhood move indoors with many children unable to explore the unknown, have real instead of virtual adventures, and connect with their environment.
“Concerns over child safety are understandable but a big part of outdoor play is all about learning to take calculated risks. If we take away that element of learning, as well as the opportunity to interact with the natural world, we risk raising a generation unable to meet challenges, care for our environment – or simply enjoy the wonders of the woods.”
Rangers at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, based in East Dorset, see at first hand the enjoyment experienced by the Park’s many visitors. They wanted to find a way to extend that enjoyment beyond the borders of the Park and encourage everyone to spend more time with their family outside. Their answer was to bring back the fun to outdoor play with a series of safe, stress-free activities many of which cost nothing to do and can be enjoyed in any back garden.
Every Friday a new, family-friendly activity is being posted on Twitter, Facebook and the Moors Valley website. The idea is that families can check it out in advance in time for some fun family time outside that coming weekend. Activities include simple games, activities and crafts and while some are seasonal, most can be enjoyed all year round, and the vast majority do not involved any complicated equipment of preparation.
“Countryside Interpretation Ranger, Katie Davies said, “Our Family Fun Fridays are our way of helping families to get together outside, have fun and improve their wellbeing at the same time. We will be posting a new activity sheet every week for 12 months and ideas so far include snail racing, meeting a tree, making a leaf boat, den building and even creating smelly cocktails. It’s all about interacting with the environment and having fun at the same time. Whilst we are selecting one activity every week, they will build to a family-friendly resource and at the end of the year provide a choice of 52 fun ways to make memories outdoors with the family.”
For more information on the Park go to www.moors-valley.co.uk. Alternatively check out the next Family Fun Friday posting on Facebook, or twitter at @moorsvalley.