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Grandparents: born to be wild

Grandparents are the most adventurous in the great outdoors – and 51% say their grandkids have never climbed a tree
Grandparents: born to be wild

Research by conservation charity the National Trust reveals grandparents are the key ingredient to helping today’s generation develop a connection with Nature.

Over three-quarters (76%) claim they were far more explorative and daring in their youth compared with both their own children and grandchildren, with a huge majority (92%) saying that they take great enjoyment from teaching their grandchildren about adventurous activities, such as building a den or flying a kite.

Getting out

The research also reveals that four in five (79%) adults believe children today have less freedom to explore and play outdoors, compared with their own childhood. While 75% of grandparents said climbing trees was one of their favourite childhood memories, half (51%) said their grandchildren had not experienced this activity.

Nearly half (49%) of grandparents take on the role of childminding more than twice a week to support parents, a figure that increases to almost two-thirds of grandparents (61%) during the school holidays. A whopping nine in 10 (92%) said that when they do spend time with their grandchildren, they are keen to encourage them to take part in explorative outdoor play rather than have them cooped up indoors.

‘Grandparents today are spending more and more time with their grandchildren in the roles of childminder and carer, and consequently getting to share real ‘quality time’ with them. And the research shows that one of the things they are sharing is a love of Nature and the great outdoors, something that harks back to their own happy childhood memories.

‘Learning to appreciate Nature at a young, impressionable age makes it much more likely that children will grow up to pass on their love of outdoor experiences to future generations. As a grandmother of seven, I have seen the effects on my grandchildren myself: they are never happier than when running free in the fresh air and sunshine, exploring and asking questions about the natural world around them.’

Behavioural psychologist

Kids today

Children today spend 57% less time exploring outdoors than their parents and grandparents did – on average it’s just 1 hour 20 minutes a day, compared with 2 hours 40 mins (parents) and 3.5 hours a day (grandparents).

Yet 87% of parents and grandparents said they enjoy seeing their offspring running wild and carefree, with 80% taking pleasure from seeing them playing outdoors away from technology devices.

Nearly all (95%) of the parents and grandparents polled agree that it is important for children to connect with Nature so that they can build a relationship with the great outdoors and help future generations care for and protect it.


The research polled 1,000 grandparents and parents for the charity as part of the National Trust’s ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ initiative, which aims to encourage families to get outdoors and enjoy spending time together. It looks at the importance of outdoor family play and how this builds a stronger appreciation and connection to Nature.

The hope is to inspire the next generation of children to plant their roots and kick-start a lifelong love affair with Nature.

‘This summer, we want to inspire children, parents and grandparents to get outdoors and develop their relationship with Nature together as a family. With so many fantastic ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ events taking place at Trust locations across the country there’s no better time to go wild and explore the great outdoors taking inspiration from our challenges. We know that sharing these outdoor experiences with family and friends from a young age helps to foster a stronger and more ingrained connection to Nature, which we hope will be passed on for generations to come.’

National Trust ranger

Click here or search #50things for more information on the National Trust’s ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ campaign’.

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