In this article, Georgie Duckworth from GoWildGoWest shares the ‘Mini-Adventure’ Challenge.
A way to make time for family adventures during the week.
Daily life can be chaotic. There’s work, the school run, chores, homework, after-school clubs etc etc. It can be relentless and, let’s face it, a little mundane. It’s all too easy to reach the end of the week without having spent any time outdoors.
But getting outdoors feels so much better than emptying the dishwasher or sending that work email. Plus, the children can unleash their energy outdoors rather than squabbling!
As such we’ve challenged ourselves to make time for adventure every week. More specifically, for ‘mini-adventuring’.
What’s a mini-adventure?
A mini-adventure can be anything - a fun activity that’s easy, local, and free. It’s really just the perfect excuse to shut your laptop, grab your wellies, and get outdoors.
Once a week, after school and work, we head out on a mini-adventure. Some are shorter, 15 minutes or so, some take a little longer but we can choose what to do based on the weather, the season and generally how we’re feeling. With no preparation needed, there’s no pressure. Just time to have fun and unwind.
You can find our full series of mini-adventure ideas on the GoWildGoWest website site here.
As we head into Spring, here are our top 3 mini-adventure ideas:
1. Night time pond dipping
Children love nothing more than exploring ponds and streams with a net and a bucket. But just wait until they see what’s going on at night time…..
At this time of year, ponds and streams are a hive of activity. The frogs, toads and newts are heading back into the water after a winter in nearby fields and gardens and they’re feeling frisky. Whether you’re in the countryside or the city, you’ll be amazed at how active your local water-holes are.
Wrap up warm and head out to a nearby pond (ask a friendly neighbour if you don’t have one), stream, or lake as dusk sets in. Using a torch, stand still for a while to let your eyes adjust to small movements in the dark. Before long, you may start to notice that the water is alive with activity.
We spotted frogs, newts (including very rare Great Crested Newts), water boatmen, diving beetles, and all manor of creepy crawlies. The kids loved it, but I loved it even more!
Try to take pictures of what you see so you can identify them when you get home.
2. Build a rope swing
This is a great activity for kids and grown-ups! It’s a good excuse to get outside and find the perfect swing tree before setting up your rope swing and practicing your knot tying skills. No kit needed other than a good sturdy rope.
To set up your rope swing;
- Tie a short but weighty stick to the rope and throw it over your chosen branch (make sure the tree is alive).
- Align the two ends of the rope and throw over the branch again (getting the second loop as close to the first as possible).
- Now get the stick you’ve chosen as your swing seat. Let the rope hang down and tie the log with knots at the right height.
- Test with adult weight so it is essential that grown-ups get to go on the swing first and give it a good test run.
3. Enjoy the sunrise & dawn chorus
Technically a ‘before school’ mini adventure but definitely a great way to start the day. In early Spring, the sunrise is still at a relatively reasonable time so you can get out on a school/work day and enjoy breakfast outdoors, watching the sun and listening to the beautiful dawn chorus.
Check the weather forecast and time of sunrise the night before. You don’t need to take anything with you to enjoy the sunrise but we like a little coffee or hot chocolate, and some malt loaf for our breakfast. It can be helpful to prepare these the night before (at least have your thermos out and ready!)
Set your alarm for a little before sunrise then rug up, grab a head torch, and set out. Though an easterly facing hilltop is ideal, we don’t all have one of those on our doorstep! You can watch the sunrise from anywhere so go wherever is easiest and local, avoiding as much travel time as possible.
Find a comfy spot to sit, listen and enjoy.