I read Coraline last week. I’d been led to believe by the evil people at a well known high street bookstore that this was a childrens book. It was in the 9-12 section after all. No one told me that my inner 9-12 year old was going to be so terrified I’d have to read it in daylight.
[tweetmeme source=”wildelycreative” http://www.URL.com%5D
Children love that element of fear, of danger, of adventure – that’s why we let them read the book or watch the film or play the game. But why do we stop them from directly experiencing these things?
We wrap them up in cotton wool, don’t let them climb trees. Slow down, don’t run, sit down, stop talking, don’t get dirty, tidy the mess, be good. Kids are mess, they are nature expressed in human form. There are no straight lines in nature.
At a recent Bushcraft for Families weekend we played a game. As the light faded and the fire warmed our faces, the children camouflaged theirs with charcoal. The aim of the game was simple. Walk out into the dark woods and stalk back to the fire to retrieve the treasure – the treasure being glowing night sticks.
The youngest child there was about 6 and the oldest about 14. I figured some would be a bit nervous about being in the woods at night trying to be as quiet as possible with all kinds of creatures in the dark. But no! They took to the game with such gusto I don’t think it stopped till way past midnight.
The thing is, they loved it. They loved the dark, they loved scaring each other with ever more grisly ghost stories, they ran through the woods with such wildness it was amazing they never ran into a tree. Children love adventure and adventure in nature is good for the soul.
Our intrepid heroine, Coraline, is the bravest of all heroines. She has that necessary gift of self-confidence that increases every time she overcomes another fear. Allowing children to experience fear, danger, adventure allows them to push against their own boundaries, increasing their self-confidence. We have free range chickens, why not Free-Range Kids?
There are many places for safe outdoor adventure in the UK and beyond. Two I’ve tried are Natural Pathways and Go Ape. I had an outstanding time at both, so maybe us grown ups have some boundaries to push too!
For more information about the importance of bushcraft for children see here.