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Blending Technology With Outdoors Fun

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Things have changed, there’s no denying it.  Gone are the days of Donkey Kong and children’s tv programming from 3-7pm. Children today are growing up able to access their favourite cartoons and movies day and night, on demand on a variety of devices. Some of the classics from our own childhoods are being remade for our own children to watch which offers nostalgia and a fondness for time at home watching our favourites with the family.  We struggle to understand the rise in popularity of You Tube videos, children watching other children opening boxes, toys or building box forts. Some of the content can be educational, even inspirational but others, the bits that they often find amusing can be tricky for us as adults to grasp the pleasure behind it. This is before we think about gaming, Amazon Fire tablets, PlayStation and Nintendo products. From Mario Kart to Pokémon, Minecraft to Fortnite; the current fads come and go, and the children get involved in various ways. Some children are not on screens and don’t play but often in the playground conversation turns to the latest games, chats held online whilst playing form friendship bonds that may otherwise not have been made without their shared love of the game.

What is the best approach to gaming and technology as a parent? There really isn’t one.  Each parent can decide how they want to bring up their children, educate themselves with the research about each game, device and e safety and make up their own rules.  There is little room for judgement in parenting and this includes technology.  Take the Pokémon Go craze a few years ago; entire families were heading outdoors each weekend to catch their Pokémon’s, this got them outdoors, together, exploring places they may not normally visit and having fun as a family. Children in school playgrounds will be using their imaginations to bring their favourite cartoon characters to life from an early age, Batman and Robin are frequently spotted, along with Power Rangers, Star Wars and now Minecraft and Fortnite. To us, it makes sense to listen to whatever the children are currently interested in and bring this into some of the clubs we offer.

Is it really bush craft if we use modern day tech fads? We are very pleased to say they we rarely get negative feedback from industry people, competitors or parents. However, very occasionally there will be a comment from what we would call a hardcore bush crafter or forest school leader saying that Minecraft or Nerf has nothing to do with the outdoors. Why would we set boundaries for fun or outdoor experiences? Why do children have to follow imaginary rules set by adults. We see using tech such as computer games, films, cartoons or modern-day toys like Nerf blasters, circus equipment or yo-yo’s is a great hook for kids to get outdoors and in the fresh air without even thinking about the action of this. The main aim has always been simple to us, to get outside all year round, not hibernate and just have fun.

How does it work? There are no hard and fast rules in our clubs when it comes to creating things outdoors, but we will make suggestions and see how the children respond to them.  For example, at a Minecraft inspired day xxx we will come up with an idea for how we can play a game, the children will use some face paints to get into character if they want to, we may make some shields or similar and then play a team game. These games are initiated by us but run by the children; after all they have the most amazing imaginations and our clubs give them the chance to use them wherever possible.

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