Children’s Day – Back to Basics

Children’s Day – Back to Basics

Last weekend’s Children’s day at the Redwoods event was a real success again. The numbers get bigger every year as families get along to enjoy ‘back to basics’ fun together in our natural environment.

This is the 6th year I’ve been involved as co-organiser and helper – that’s actually the easy bit.

The scary part is the health and safety aspects of holding an event involving around 1000 of our little people in the Redwoods setting.

As you can imagine there are very stringent health and safety standards these days for playground areas and equipment, so opening up unfenced acres of sharp sticks and trip hazards for excited children certainly keeps us on our toes.

There’s always the pre-event scan to eliminate anything gnarly, sharp or upward-pointing on the landscape, but some could say we still had a potential minefield of hazards out there.

Or maybe we worry too much. Kids need to be kids, right?

Sadly, it seems we’ve really entered a culture of fear in the last 20 years, where we avoid risk at all costs. I even wonder if we’ll reach a time when our kids will require a safety induction, hard hat, safety boots, high-vis jacket, goggles and knee pads to play in the forest.

Surveys indicate that 80% of us agree with the experts in this field – that children both need and want to take risks in order to explore their limits and venture into new experiences – it’s all a part of our natural development.

Childhood is a time of enjoying challenge and adventure. By over-protecting our children we’re possibly robbing them of their right to play and take calculated risks – and research proves this in turn makes them more vulnerable to injury and other negative experiences in later life.

Things really got out of hand a few years back when a school in Western Australia banned cartwheels and handstands. Was this an April fool’s joke? Suddenly, you’ll perform a harmless handstand and you’re an outlaw.

Oddly enough, other schools in Australia and Great Britain followed suit.

And later, after an isolated and one-off incident, a Canadian school was the first to ban all sports balls on its playgrounds. I wonder if that included marbles – after all, the humble marble is one of the scariest things on the planet if you overly consider the associated trip, choke, bruise, germ and projectile risks.

Maybe some would have us believe that school is a way too dangerous place then, and that we really should send our kids off each morning shrouded in layers of bubble wrap – in case, for example, they should nod off and fall from their chair during the dreaded and dreary maths class?

So yes, as I watched a few kids in jandals wildly swinging sturdy sticks into a rotten, huhu-ridden log last Sunday, I reflected that this surely must be a piece of paradise.

As in years past, we all emerged from the sharp sticks, bows and arrows, flimsy huts and muddy bogs enlightened, invigorated and yes, unscathed. Not even a scratch.

It was magical last Sunday – we were all allowed to be kids again.

Photo credit: Natascha Hartzuiker