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Jump like you've never jumped before!

Helen Robinson is an Education Officer at New Forest National Park Authority.

This week we ran a Wild Play Day at Anderwood in the New Forest, it was hosted by ourselves, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission and proved a resounding success – with over 400 people attending.

The plan was to run an event that encouraged people to discover the New Forest, and get inspired by some free wild play ideas. No expertise, equipment or booking required!

Despite knowing that when exploring the woods ‘simple is best’, it’s still surprising just how many parents were more unsure than their children about the lack of structured activities. Meanwhile the children let their imaginations run wild, wanting to play simple games such as balancing and jumping on a ‘wibble-wobble’ log again, and again… and again.

Clutching their very own map of the site, kids worked their way around play stations that included:

  • Wibble Wobble Log
  • Smelly Potions
  • Den Building
  • Tiny Crafty Rafts

The idea was that children could try these activities or invent their own versions, which they often did, such as a concocting a potion that makes you immune to stinging nettles, stick men with pine cone hats and luxury dens.

By means of their secret map, families had to navigate their way to secret hideouts and activities, spreading out and making a relaxed and private atmosphere despite the hundreds of people attending.
The boundless energy of children even had older family members hooked into playing wild too. It was great to see adults and children getting stuck in together, even losing track of time, and it was a real pleasure to hear laughter echoing through the woods.

‘We thought we’d pop along for half and hour and see whether it was alright, and we stayed all day. It’s even better that it’s all free.’ A happy parent.

Why not try out our simple recipe for a day of your own Wild play…

  • Pack a tasty picnic, water bottle and a mac.
  • Hunt down a handy hidden hideout (try Forestry Commission car parks and travel beyond the Sat Nav!)
  • Meet with family and friends, hug and squeeze them hello!
  • Follow your feet for five minutes (ensure car park is out of sight)
  • Collect essential ingredients such as pine cones, dead sticks and natural treasure (find a special stone with magical properties)
  • Reinvent your dead stick in at least 3 different ways (walking stick, stick man, fishing rod…..)
  • Fall in ditch and pick yourselves up again, hold a slug so close to your nose you can see the stripes, jump like you’ve never jumped before, and stride, paddle, sunbathe, laugh and play!
  • Climb the hill and collapse on the grass.
  • Take tired children home for tea (snores in the backseat of the car)

A huge thank you to all the staff and families who came to play and made the day so special. We hope we’ve inspired you to explore the New Forest and find special places to wild play in your own time.

For more information on learning in and about the New Forest, email me at

This entry was posted by Communications on Thursday 21/08/2014


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