By Hyahno Moser, from Nature Play Qld
It’s early Saturday morning and the cold winter wind burns my nose and makes my eyes water as I struggle to keep up with the older boys on my smaller and vastly inferior push bike. My little legs are going at full speed, heart racing, lungs labouring, and I can see my breath as I puff like a steam train.
It’s 1982, I am seven.
There is a sense of urgency as this rag tag group of neighbourhood kids hurry towards the potential location of our latest hide-out. As we ride my mind is also racing: how can we make this hide-out our best one yet? Where will be the entrances and the escape routes be? What will we need to do to make sure our hide-out is well camouflaged from others? Where are the best vantage points for the look-out?
We all have our roles and mine is the look-out, a role won by my confidence in climbing trees. I am the lightest, naturally nimble, and can balance precariously on lightweight tree branches. Being the look-out makes me a powerful secret weapon for our neighbourhood group, and makes me feel useful and proud. I may be the youngest but these skills have earned me a place in the group and respect.
This is the childhood in need of recognition and protection in a world dominated by technology and risk assessment. This is the childhood I want for my kids. A childhood rich with experiences that gives children the capacity to develop lifelong skills beyond the backyard. A raw and real childhood that provides a framework for our kids to discover themselves.
Fast forward …. (it’s) 2014 and I am now the Program Manager for Nature Play QLD. We are a not-for-profit organisation that advocates the power of unstructured play outdoors. We exist to help parents find ways to get kids off screens and back outside.
During recent events, organised by the Nature Play QLD team, I had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of parents who brought their children along to experience some of the missions that we set kids to complete in the Nature Play program. While their kids played in the mud, tumbled down hills, made and flew kites, climbed trees, and found stories in the clouds, we asked their parents to tell us their best aspects or memories from childhood.
Here are their answers.
It may not surprise you that most of these childhood memories happened outside, but what may surprise you is in thinking what your favourite childhood memories are – and are those experiences still available for your children?
- Flying kites on the beach
- Building a raft and rafting the lake
- Sliding down grass hills on a piece of cardboard
- Building bon fires
- Playing in the yard with my three brothers
- Digging in Mum’s garden
- Water skiing
- Swimming in the local river
- Lots of adventures
- Laying in the grass making pictures with clouds
- Making daisy chains
- Riding my horse on our farm
- Campfires and roasting marshmallows
- Beach holidays
- Star gazing
- Exploring my grandparents’ farm
- Jumping streams and getting wet
- Damming the creek
- Family picnics
- Playing in the creek, with no adult supervision
- Rope tower challenge
- Fishing and catching a crab
- Climbing my Nan’s mango tree
- Walking in the bush with my dad
- Making mud pies in the garden
- Climbing the treehouse in our neighbours yard
- Coming up with the most elaborate ideas for cubbies, in trees, bushes, cactus fields, underground cubbies by digging trenches, and camouflaging tem as best we could
- Making tree swings into the local river
Let’s reclaim our best childhood experiences for our children.
I encourage you to have a conversation with your children on the weekend about what your precious childhood memories are and how you can recreate them for your children.
For me, we’re building a cubby.
But I suspect I may have to appoint a new look-out!
For more information go to: www.natureplayqld.org.au