Adventure Parenting Nature & Wildlife Outdoor Kids

Connecting Kids with Nature

Girl by Waterfall in Iceland
Written by Stuart Wickes

Meet the New Marketing Director of Nature

Stuart Profile SmallThe feature length documentary “Project Wild Thing” launched recently in indie cinemas around the UK. In the film, director David Bond self appoints himself Marketing Director of Nature, a challenging job in which he sets out to sell nature and the outdoors, to persuade his own kids and the wider world to get out more. Check out this trailer and you’ll get the gist of it.

This is Project Wild Thing

You’ll have to watch the film to see how David gets on (check out Project Wild Thing for details) but the teaser clip got me wondering if every family should have its own Marketing Director of Nature? You know, someone responsible for putting nature more firmly on the family agenda. Which led me to thinking about what I’d do if I were given the job for my family.

Five ways to give nature a look-in in family life

It didn’t take me long to come up with a rather ambitious five point campaign plan.

1 BORING is banned

“I don’t want to go for a nature walk, it’s boring.” No, it’s not boring, YOU are. But not any more. As Director of Marketing for Nature in our house I have declared there will be no more boring nature walks. Instead we will have action days, adventure weekends, immersive experiences, spotter challenges, relaxing revels, moonlit moments.

Fines for infringement

Our outings will be active, entertaining, inspiring, educational, challenging, good fun but above all NOT boring. In fact the word boring will be banned, from my vocabulary at least, and others will be fined for infringement. Nature will be branded as incredible, entertaining, fascinating, accessible, free. And compulsory.

Nature Encounter Camouflage and Cows

No more boring. Nature encounters will be interesting. Guaranteed.

2 Interesting is In

You can’t be bored if you’re interested, so creating interest will be a priority. But I don’t think it will be hard. You only have watch a good nature programme to realise nature is naturally incredibly interesting. And where it appears not to be we will look more closely, examine our assumptions and make it so. We will go to interesting places, find fascinating landscapes, habitats, animals, plants and insects. We will look at them, listen to them, smell them, touch them, maybe even taste them. We will talk about nature, discuss it, make up ideas to explain things.

Tech is part of the solution

When we don’t understand we will look stuff up, use a spotting app, put on our Google glasses, ask an expert. We will hike places, bike places, paddle places, drive places, go in the sun, the wind, the rain and the snow. We’ll visit urban nature, nature trail, earth caches and wild, wild places. We will set out clean and come back dirty and not care. We’ll start our own Adventure Club, go on courses and learn skills for exploring, make fun videos, take photographs and leave nothing but footprints.

3 Living Learning

Learning is for life and learning about life will be at the heart of my secret nature curriculum. It’s secret because hopefully people won’t even realise they’re learning, for there won’t be a curriculum or lessons or tests or teachers. We’ll do natural learning, learning in the flow of life, and through the incredibly interesting and definitely not boring experiences we will create together. We will learn over breakfast and dinner, when we talk about our day or discuss stories with a nature twist we spot in the news, on Twitter, Facebook or playitagain TV.

Sharing and learning together

We’ll share ebooks, stories and music with each other, make a library of nature inspiration, leave things lying around for others to pick up. We’ll watch films and documentaries, listen to podcasts and the radio, make music, and laugh, cry and argue about the meaning of life, in all its forms. We’ll challenge each other and ourselves and come to realise that learning is natural and as powerful, fascinating, exciting, available, accessible and free as nature itself.

Examining the flowers on Arran

The opportunities for learning are everywhere. We just need to stop and take them.

4 Positive People Power

As parents we instinctively understand the power of the peer group to influence kids and I’ll use it ruthlessly to further my agenda. I’ll search out nature-minded people, find out where they go, when they meet, what they do. And we’ll try and join in. Not just hanging on but becoming part of the gang. We’ll look into the Wild Network, check out the RSPB, buy birthday gift subscriptions to National Geographic, Nature and NG Kids. I’ll even buy a TV if it’s permanently tuned to Eden and NatGeo TV.

Inspired by others

We’ll keep paying subs for Cubs and Scouts, re-join the Youth Hostelling Association and connect with the local Cycle Touring Club. We’ll go to talks, events, festivals, lectures and open days and open ourselves to what others have to say about nature and its place in their world. And we’ll use that to inspire us to make it part of our world.

Sea Kayaks at Derwent Water

Sea Kayaks at the Keswick Mountain Festival, by Derwent Water.

5 Action on The Home Front

If marketing is a war for attention, then ultimately there will need to be some serious action on the home front.  Positive nature experiences and learning are just preliminary moves, designed to get the kids attracted to, fond of and falling in love with nature. Yes, I did say falling in love, for as Stephen Jay Gould succinctly put it, people won’t fight to protect that which they do not love. And in this campaign I want kids who ultimately won’t just love nature but will fight for it, who won’t just think about the impact of their actions but feel responsible for them. And who will take action to change things. Don’t tell anyone, but this campaign really isn’t about nature walks at all, it’s about growing environmentally responsible citizens, nature advocates, even activists.

Activism at home

Now I’m not talking about taking the family on a Greenpeace cruise to protest about arctic oil exploitation. Not yet anyway. No, we’re going to be starting local. We’ll start by getting the family thinking about the impact of what we do at home and changing things we don’t think are right. And I will use whatever incentives, promotions, discounts and giveaways are necessary to make this happen.

Kids running through buttercups

Kids who learn to know and love nature may be more inclined to lead the charge to protect it.

Weapons and rewards

We’ll start small, looking at everyday things, using questions and curiosity as weapons, and pocket money, iTunes vouchers and sweets as rewards.  We’ll challenge each other to do things differently, and have prizes and awards for those who make a change. We’ll have competitions in which we count car miles, install bike milometers and wear pedometers to see if we can change the way we travel.  We’ll ask where our meals come from, how they are farmed, processed, packaged and distributed and figure out if that still has anything to do with nature. We’ll look in our bins, ask how stuff got there, find out what happens to it, and see what we can do to reduce or recycle it. We’ll befriend the birds, plants, animals and compost bin in our very own backyard eco system, and see what we can do to protect, develop and enhance it.

From local to global

And when it all gets too intense locally we’ll take the local global and ponder the implications on a wider scale, debating the threats to nature from simple things like litter dropping to complex ones like resource extraction, over development, over population and deforestation. And when everyone’s had enough of that, (I don’t think it will take long), I think we’ll go for a walk.

Anyone want to come?

Children and technology in Nature

If we can’t get them off tech, at least we can take them out with it, and use in nature, to learn about nature.

Talking Point

If you were appointed Marketing Director of Nature for your family, what would you do? Do leave a comment and let us know.

About the author

Stuart Wickes

Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project. He is our chief photographer and videographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!


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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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