The RSPB is inviting parents to rediscover their childhoods and create new memories with their children by spending a night under canvas, or just enjoying a late night outdoors.
The conservation charity’s Big Wild Sleepout takes place this weekend (7-9 August), when it’s hoped families will get closer to nature by sharing and exploring the nocturnal world around them.
With just one in five children connected to nature , the RSPB believes generations of children with little or no contact with the natural world or wildlife poses an enormous threat to the future security of the UK’s nature.
The Big Wild Sleepout encourages children and families to get outside together during the summer holidays, experience the amazing sights and sounds of night-time wildlife and be inspired to help protect it.
The adventurous will be building and sleeping in dens and shelters, some will stick to tents and caravans while others will venture outdoors late into the night to explore the wonders of nocturnal nature. Creatures you can expect to find taking over the night-shift are bats, moths, deer, hedgehogs and owls.
Big Wild Sleepout events will also be happening across the country on RSPB reserves and partner sites. In the southeast, there are some spaces still available to book at the RSPB’s Rainham Marshes nature reserve on the eastern edge of London and at Pulborough Brooks in West Sussex. Pitches at Northward Hill in Kent and Farnham Heath in Surrey are all fully booked.
RSPB South East Big Wild Sleepout coordinator Lorna Beaumont says: “Research has found that London children have a slightly better connection with nature than the national average; despite having less access to wide open spaces. What we care about is dictated by what we experience. That’s why it’s crucial our children get to touch, smell and feel part of nature. Enjoying nature is the start of a journey which leads to caring for it. All our futures depend on it.”
The Big Wild Sleepout is part of the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign, which is aimed at inspiring everyone to do their bit for nature, wherever they live and however big their outside space.
A number of celebrities have lent their voice to support the event by recording a series of bedtime stories to help people nod off on their Sleepout. Zoë Ball, Emilia Fox, Bill Oddie, Alison Steadman and RSPB President Miranda Krestovnikoff, are just some of the famous names who have recorded a tale from The RSPB’s Bumper Book of Wildlife Stories, which people can listen to via the RSPB’s website.
Sarah Houghton, Big Wild Sleepout national organiser said: “Whether you’re camping in a back garden or attending your local RSPB reserve event, we hope thousands will be getting closer to nature and will be inspired to help save it. Some of our best loved garden favourites are among the creatures shown to be in serious trouble and by taking part in this fun outdoor activity; we’re making the nation aware that nature needs our help.”
Rohan, designer and supplier of outdoor clothing and footwear, is supporting this year’s Big Wild Sleepout.
Roger Cann, Managing Director for Rohan, said: “For many people a love of adventure starts close to home. The RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout is inspiring, accessible and encourages people to get outdoors, discover local wildlife and help preserve it for future generations which is something we at Rohan fully support.”
The RSPB has produced a free Big Wild Sleepout explorer pack containing all the info you’ll need to take part and bags of fun ideas. For full details of all the Big Wild Sleepout events and to find out how you can get involved, visit rspb.org.uk/sleepout.