BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 18 Feb'15

FIRST EVER TREE-CLIMBING COURSES LAUNCHED FOR DIGITAL GENERATION

In less than a decade’s time, climbing trees and reading maps will be lost arts unless children are given more access to outdoor sports and education, a leading expert has said.

Ant Eddies-Davies trains everyone from school kids and university students through to UK emergency service and international defence force personnel, and is one of the most experienced outdoor training instructors in the country.

’A national embarrassment’

Through Live the Adventure, an outdoor adventure centre he runs in Shropshire, Ant takes groups of all ages through their paces – tackling the great outdoors on foot, by boat or on horseback. Ant says the decline he’s witnessed in the ability of children is ‘a national embarrassment’.

‘We’ve had more than 250,000 kids through our doors over the past 30 years but the difference between children then and children now is quite shocking.

‘Go back to the ‘80s and most of the children wouldn’t think twice about shinning up a tree or attempting a climbing wall. In the main they had a real thirst for adventure and were capable of pushing themselves to the limits.’

Ant Eddies-Davies

The digital generation

Ant is worried about the impact technology is having on children’s health and sense of adventure. While for many of us falling out of a tree was a rite of passage, today’s kids don’t experience the same freedom and seem more worried about being laughed at.

‘We have children who have become so used to a sedentary lifestyle that they can barely get themselves out of the minibus let alone up a rope ladder. They’re too interested in their phones, or computer games, and even those that seem quite sporty have been kept on such a tight leash by their parents that they’re afraid to challenge themselves.

‘We get tears from children if they get muddy, fears about what their friends will think if they fail and although by the end of the day we always manage a breakthrough, it’s incredible how much encouragement and assistance today’s children need with simple outdoor tasks.’

Ant Eddies-Davies

In a move to revive the dying art, Ant has launched tree-climbing courses for children to help them appreciate the fun that can be had outside.

‘There is something truly amazing about being outside in the fresh air, and doing the things that my generation took for granted when they were children.

‘Imagine not being able to climb a tree! Or, worse still, not being bothered whether you climb it or not because you’re too busy shooting people on a computer game.’

Ant Eddies-Davies

Tree climbing will be an option in a number of adventure packages on offer at Live The Adventure, all of which are suitable for children aged eight and over. Other activities, such as horse riding, are available for children as young as two.

For full details, visit the Live the Adventure website.