National Trust launches campaign to get children outdoors with Elite Rangers

The National Trust has today launched a nationwide campaign to encourage sofa-bound children to take to the outdoors and enjoy classic adventures from skimming stones to building dens.

The charity’s ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾’ campaign provides a checklist for under-12s (and those who are young at heart) including everything from running around in the rain and bug hunting, to setting up a snail race, damming a stream, flying a kite and making a (delicious) mud pie.

To help bring to life these simple pleasures, the Trust has formed a group of Elite Rangers who will share their expert tips on enjoying outdoor adventures and their enthusiasm for encouraging children to play alfresco.

The five rangers, all Trust staff, come from across the UK and range in age from 29 to 49. They include a 6ft 3” tree climbing expert, who has scaled 50 metre-high trees, (a.k.a. Tree Man), Captain Skim who can skim a stone over 26 times and Midas the treasure hunter.  The other rangers are Den-Boy, an outdoor hideaway-building champion, and a minibeast expert (aka The Bug Catcher) who can name over 300 varieties of moth.

The fantastic five will be offering top tips on their chosen skill to the nation’s children over a Free Weekend (21 and 22 April) when the National Trust will open up over 200 of its houses and gardens for free over the weekend, as well as all the countryside spaces it cares for, which are always free access. Properties across Northern Ireland including Mount Stewart, The Argory and Florence Court will be free to the public to explore – just download your free entry voucher from the National Trust website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/freeweekend

The ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾’ initiative is in response to a report commissioned by the National Trust which reveals fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places; compared to almost half a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree, one in ten can’t ride a bike, and three times as many are taken to hospital after falling out of bed, as from falling out of a tree.*

Kids can pick up a free 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾ scrapbook from participating properties – and start ticking off their outdoor adventures to do list. Plus, the fun can continue at home by visiting nationaltrust.org.uk/50things where children can fill in their completed activities and earn points towards their very own explorer badge.

National Trust Ranger for South Down properties in Northern Ireland, David Thompson, commented:

“Childhood experiences such as building a den, rolling down a hill, hunting bugs and pond dipping are an essential part of growing up. And to help children enjoy the simple pleasures of being outdoors we’ve compiled a list of some of the easiest and fun outdoor experiences we think all children should be able to do before their twelfth birthday.  50 things to do before you’re 11¾ will take you into the woods and onto water, up huge hills and down to the beach.”

Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, comments:

“Our Elite Rangers are a fantastic bunch, with bags of enthusiasm for the outdoors and what it can offer kids. We’re hoping that the nation’s children will embrace the 50 things and start having their very own outdoor adventures with their family, with our Free Weekend the perfect opportunity to get outside in the fresh air.”