The school summer holidays are upon us. Time for the kids to kick back on the sofa? Nah, we didn't think so. Make it a memorable summer with this selection of inexpensive ways to keep the kids occupied in the great outdoors this summer. Don't forget the sun cream!
1. Sleep under the stars
Over the weekend of 7-9 August, the RSPB is running the annual Big Wild Sleepout. The conservation charity is encouraging families throughout the UK to sleep out overnight, either in their own garden or as part of an organised RSPB event. How you take part is up to you. You could pitch a tent, build a shelter or, if the weather's kind, spend a night under the stars. Visit: www.rspb.org.uk
Begin your year of microadventures - small and achievable outdoor overnight adventures. Microadventures' originator Alistair Humprey's is challenging everyone to sleep outdoors at least once a month. You can do it whenever you like but there is a schedule to follow which helps book a date in your diary and adds to online camradarie. The next suggested sleep out is on 31 July when there is the rare occurance of a Blue Moon.
Visit: the micro adventure calendar or get involved with the Facebook page.
If you're thinking of wild camping, you can read up on the legalities of wild camping here.
2. Wild time
Project Wild Thing has a whole host of great ideas to help parents and children spend ‘Wild Time’ together exploring the outdoors.
They encourage you to swap screen time for wild time and reconnect to the outdoors. To quote a fun line from the trailer "Stop buying ipads, take your children outdoors. You've bought enough ipads now."
You can find lots of ideas from cloud spotting to building dens on the Project Wild Thing website and there's also a free app.
3. National Parks Week
National Parks Week (27 July to 2 August) is an annual celebration of the amazing places, people and things to be found in the 15 National Parks in the UK.
There are loads of family-friendly free events taking place across all of the National Parks. From guided walks to wildlife spotting and geocaching, find all the free events on the National Parks website.
Of course you can visit National Parks throughout the whole summer, not just in National Parks Week. For instance, check out all the events that the Peak District National Park has to offer families this summer.
4. Take to the hills
Taking your kids hill walking can instil a love of the nature and the mountains which will stay with them forever. Yes it can be a faff and not short on the familiar phrase 'are we nearly there yet' but if you plan your route well and end with a nice pub lunch you'll be on to a winner for a great family day out.
Think carefully about the duration of the walk and whether it is realistically achievable for the littlest legs in your family.
British summer weather is notoriously fickle, from the current heat wave to the recent thunderstorms, so you'll need to watch out for the weather forecast and take precautions to keep your family protected come rain or shine.
The Ramblers have some useful tips on walking with young children. Also if you're looking or accessible routes for buggies you could check out Walks with Buggies.
Before you go, read up all our essential hill walking know-how.
5. Climbing wall academies / sessions
Ok so this one is not outdoors but it's definitely worth mentioning the many climbing academies and kids sessions run by climbing walls throughout the summer holidays. Check out what's happening at your local climbing wall. NB. Walls, feel free to add info about your sessions in the comments box below.
6. Ready to Rock - BMC subsidised rock climbing course for families
There are still places available on this five day course on 10-14 August at the National Mountain Sports Centre at Plas y Brenin in North Wales. The course is designed for families (children aged 14 and upwards) and will build on skills which you will have gained at a wall. No outside experience is required, but you should be able to put on a harness and tie in to the end of a rope, use a belay device, and understand what lead climbing involves. You don't need to be a gymnast but a basic level of fitness would certainly be an advantage.
The Ready to Rock course is structured to help you become self-sufficient as quickly as possible, covering anchor selection and construction, rope handling, abseiling and self-protection along with a host of other skills unique to outdoor climbing. In the evenings you'll pick up tips on equipment selection, training and mental preparation techniques. After this week of single and multi-pitch climbing you should leave ready to take to the outdoor crag with confidence and enthusiasm.
The full-board Plas y Brenin experience with a room including all food: only £405pp (RRP £525)
BOOK NOW: Find out more and book on to Ready to Rock for Families. Click on the relevant tabs for course detail, kit list, etc.
7. Count butterflies
The charity Butterfly Conservation is calling on the public to help survey the state of Britain's countryside by counting our most colourful insects. The Big Butterfly Count takes place for two weeks from 17 July - 9 August. You are asked to spend 15 minutes 'in a sunny spot' and note how many of 21 common species they spot. Butterflies are a visible indicator of whether the countryside was healthy. The online survey is now in its sixth year.
8. National Trust ‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’ challenge
This will keep the kids (and you!) busy for a while. Show nature you care by getting outside and involved. Whether you want to fly a kite or explore a cave, the National Trust has a list of 50 things to do with your family this summer.
Why not sign up for the challenge?
And finally...don't forget the sun protection!
BMC Ambassador Calum Muskett says: "Whether I'm out climbing in the Britain or the Alps, SFP30 is an essential item of kit that I never leave out."
The BMC is supporting the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code, an initiative devised by the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund and partnered with the Association for Physical Education (AfPE), sports coach UK, the Child Protection in Sport Unit and the Youth Sports Trust.
In its second year, it is now supported by nearly 100 national governing bodies of sport, outdoor and coaching organisations and is backed by a growing number of celebrity ambassadors, including Julia Bradbury and Matthew Hoggard MBE.
The initiative is aimed principally at anybody working outdoors with primary school aged children (6-12). If you are an individual or a group, the initiative will help you produce, and most importantly implement, a sun protection policy. Find out more.
READ: the BMC's Young People guide which gives parents an excellent introduction to climbing, hill walking & mountaineering.
WATCH: Mountain guide Libby Peter climbing with her kids on BMC TV.
WATCH: a trailer about Project Wild Thing
We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.
Did you know that we've launched a U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: