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Take up Ken's den challenge

Would you dare to join a real-life action hero as he delved deep into the forest on a den-building mission?

Ken Hames, star of the BBC2 TV series Beyond Boundaries, challenged a group of journalists and children to build a waterproof den at the Forest of Dean today (Tuesday 23 May).

Reporters were invited to put their essential survival skills to the test by creating a watertight den in under 40 minutes – and sitting inside as former special forces officer Ken Hames poured a bucket of water over it.

A class of 20 Year 5 pupils from  Worcester’s Broadway First School were also there on the day and shown how to build their own dens which Ken sat in and tested himself.

Ken Hames said:

“Every child should have an adventurous experience.  It helps them develop a better relationship with the outdoors leaving a positive legacy for our children’s children.  It is also an excellent educational experience – by being out in the woods they learn not just about nature but also something about themselves. “

The Forestry Commission holds a dynamic approach to children’s play. It believes nature, adventure, challenge and a little risk are all part of the essence of woodland sites and make them ideal for play.

Growing Adventure, the  Commission’s recent  report on independent play, shows that adventurous activity is good for children’s development. But children must be equipped to take measured decisions about any risks involved.

Lord David Clark, Chairman of the Commission said:

"Children can thrive on the adventure of their imaginations, and outdoor play helps them to enjoy and respect their natural environment. Fortunately it is also great fun, and as part of our Active Woods Campaign, we want more children playing outdoors and learning to live healthily."

As an active demonstration of their commitment to encouraging children to learn how to enjoy the natural environment safely, the Commission has arranged den-building events UK-wide around the Spring Bank Holiday as part of its Active Wood campaign.

Jennie Lindon, an early years specialist and author of the National Children’s Bureau publication, Too Safe for Their Own Good? Helping Children Learn about Risk and Life Skills, supports the campaign. She said:

“Adults often get concerned about children playing outdoors but they need adventures and will learn how to take measured risks. Children need to be given practical advice, like how to land safely when they jump, and they will listen.

“Adults sometimes need to learn to trust their children. In a safe enough environment, children are unlikely to have serious accidents. But minor bumps and bruises are all part of the process of learning about life, during an enjoyable and playful childhood.

“The Forestry Commission’s den building days are an excellent opportunity to give your child the freedom to play in the natural environment.”

Ken Hames has served in the Parachute Brigade, the Royal Marines and the Special Air Service. The next series of the  BBC documentary Beyond Boundaries will be screened in the autumn.

Active Woods is a national drive being led by the Forestry Commission, to promote the vast range of health and fitness opportunities offered by Britain’s woodlands. For further information visit our Active Woods pages or call the Commission’s hotline on 0845 3673787.

Active woods

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