Why we must get young people out walking

I was saddened to read in the newspaper, that one in four children in Britain NEVER play out of doors!

Many of the others have their freedom to roam in the outdoors curtailed. Saddened, yes, and appalled.

From my earliest childhood, I roamed through the countryside, taking long expeditions that often kept me out all day. I even used to bunk off school to go rambling.

These early experiences gave me a love of the outdoors that has lasted all my life.

Let’s face it – there is little real threat to children out of doors. Much parental fear is paranoia. Statistics show that there is no more chance of your child being snatched today as there was in my childhood. And surely, children can be taught to negotiate the traffic?

Even at school, we would often be taken out for country walks. Why can’t teachers do that now? Or are they all cowed by nanny-state health and safety bullies?

It was ghastly to see that even the Scouts are to remove the camping element (i.e. sleeping in a tent) from the camping badge requirements.

What is the point of that, besides encouraging children to grow up as wimps?

As a young teenager we were off in our tents – sometimes with just bivvy gear – on long camping expeditions across Dartmoor. These trips taught us much more about self-reliance than we would ever learn in the classroom or from the mindless watching of television or computer screens.

Surely it is time that outdoor organisations did more to absorb interested children. Teenagers should be encouraged to join societies like the Ramblers, with very cheap subscriptions and even youth groups. It is the way forward. We could start by making it easier for whole families to go out with rambling groups.

Because, do you know what?

If we don’t there may be NO future guardians of our countryside, our footpaths and bridleways, rights of access, forests, national parks or anything else.

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