Have you noticed the latest ‘trend’ for outdoor activities and environmental engagement? A plethora of back to nature festivals now offer activity packed weekends out in woodlands and wild places, forest schools and bushcraft courses are sprouting up everywhere. Every county seems to have its own local version of ‘Ray Mears’ – one of my all time favourite people, by the way – offering days of stick whittling and shelter building.
One of the Festivals I am involved in, ‘The Really Wild Festival’, included a simple fire-lighting and camp-fire cooking demmo this year and to our amazement it was totally packed out!
This back to nature, or better still, ‘forward to nature’ leisure movement might well be driven by studies which have revealed that being outside and engaging with our natural environment is really good for us… which is great, but do we really need surveys to tell us this?!
Or maybe we are simply feeling the need to get out of concrete and back into woodlands?
After all, take anything, animals, plants or people out of the habitat they evolved to survive in, and they start to deteriorate or at least do not thrive.
But don’t take my word for it:
Even just a walk in a green space can make a huge difference:
It’s all good stuff as far as I am concerned. Anything that gets more of us to stare into Mother Nature’s eyes instead of into a pixelated screen is most welcome – it’s not just devices that are plugged in, we need to de-vice and unplug ourselves too. Which is why most of these types of activities and holidays are bereft of electricity and wifi, because let’s face it, if it’s there we will be tapping that password in and checking our emails or social media timelines on a heartbeat!
Getting off-grid is something I can heartily recommend no matter who you are – families, couples, friends – it brings a depth to our relationships we would otherwise miss out on. Whenever I can, I spend a couple of days off grid – no electric, wifi or even a mobile phone signal and you know what, I didn’t miss it. When I am ‘out there’ I don’t miss my on-line ‘life’, emails, Google browsing, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, they all fade away, but when I go back home and work with phones, devices and wifi I really do miss the sea, the woods, the camp fires, the starry skies.
I have to confess I was a little perplexed about all this ‘re-wilding’ stuff to start with. Having grown up on a smallholding in a rural county, things like woodland dens, campfires and foraging were nothing new, special or trendy – it was just, well, what we did. It was an amazing lifestyle with so much freedom – do you remember that? We would disappear to the woods, create stories, play games, make dens and not return till supper time. Dad grew vegetables, reared pigs, kept chickens, brewed beers and bagged a few rabbits, pigeons or pheasants for the pot. Mum grew flowers, herbs, made bread, jam, pickles and amazing pate. Our Sunday breakfasts were incredible at certain times of the year – with home cured bacon, fresh eggs, Mum’s bread and field mushrooms I’d just picked from the pasture – the Great British Breakfast? and then some!
It was a lifestyle that most of us will not actually live, even so, there’s no reason why we can’t pretend for a little while during a back to nature holiday. One of the lines I first wrote about glamping was that ‘it brings people closer to nature and each other’.. a little twee maybe, but it seems to be true. I hope that the holidays I help to create do just this, I’m pretty sure they do, the feedback and comments from guest are something to behold. Whether it’s a couple, a group of friends or a family, people interact and bond, they discover new hobbies, and create memories and bonds that will last a lifetime.
I’m delighted that engaging with nature is becoming popular, if more of us appreciate it, more of us will benefit from it, and hopefully, want to conserve it. It’s another reason I love being in the glamping business – it gets us out there, call it re-wilding, ‘back to nature’ or ‘forward to nature’ I don’t really care!
As long as we connect with it and do something to look after it. Because let’s face it, we need Nature far more than she needs us.