We were in England on holiday one year ago, and I stumbled upon a free booklet at National Trust sites, called 50 Things to Do Before You’re 11 3/4. Apparently, it’s an initiative to get kids out and moving and exploring their surroundings. It’s like a little journal or scrapbook that helps them to keep track of the details of the cool things they do – from “find your way with a compass and a map” or “discover what’s in a pond,” to “walk through the grass barefoot” or “roll down a really big hill.”
What kind of kid needs to be told to walk barefoot or roll down a hill, I thought, snatching up two of the booklets to use for my own kids. While they don’t need encouragement to do this stuff, I loved the idea of keeping a record of it.
We haven’t succeeded in completing all 50 things yet (still on the to-do list is “camp out in the wild,” “catch a fish with a net” and “dam a stream,” among others). But one they have completed over and over (and over and over) again is the very first activity in the book: “climb a tree.”
Maple trees, pine trees, apple trees… you name it.
I’ve heard stories of people disparaging parents who let their kids scale the heights of even a smallish tree. I don’t know if it’s about the child’s safety or the tree’s, but I am certain of one thing: trees have been a natural go-to playground for children long before the sterilized jungle gym was invented, and they will continue to hold their interest long after their enjoyment in the playground wanes.
You just can’t beat the beautiful roughness of the bark, the jaunty angles of the branches and the daring precariousness of swinging from a limb. Adventure beckons!
There’s nothing like it.
So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to make an effort to get out and climb a tree this weekend. With a child, or on your own. It will keep you young. It will make life interesting. Let me know how it goes…
Mrs. Pear Tree xxxxx