“Jump like you’ve never jumped before!”

This challenge requires skill, fitness, speed and bravery…… and a fearless leap over a pit of crocodiles! (ahem…. Especially imported invisible ones that won’t affect the ecology of the New Forest- we promise!).

Despite knowing that when exploring the woods “simple is best”, it’s still surprising just how many parents were more worried than their children, and how many children wanted to play this simple balancing and jumping game again, and again… and again. Sound familiar?

The Wild Play Day at Anderwood, hosted by New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission, proved a resounding success. Over 400 people attended, and many were pleased to tell us they got more than they bargained for.

“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,” one parent described.

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

Tiny Crafty Rafts
Tiny Crafty Rafts

Activities included :

“Wibble Wobble Log”,
“Smelly Potions”,
“Den Building” and
“Tiny Crafty Rafts”,

The idea was that children could try these out or invent their own versions, which they often did- a potion making you immune to stinging nettles, stick man with pine cone hats and luxury dens appeared throughout the day.

Many parents were glad to discover the paths, woodland and streams in easy reach of accessible toilets. By means of a 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.

Why not try out our simple recipe for a day of Wildplay

Pack a tasty picnic, water bottle and a mac.

Hunt down a handy hidden hideout (try Forestry Commission car parks, 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:
– pine cones
– dead sticks
– 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.
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)

wildtime, wildplay, wild mission, maps
Try out our Wild Play missions and map your own adventures

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 and wild play in your own time and find your own special places!

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