Sunday, 10 August 2014

National Trust "50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4" campaign

The National Trust has pledged to ramp up its ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11 3/4’ campaign and get 200,000 kids playing outside this summer, following new research revealing that children aged 7-12 spend less time playing outside than any other generation. To help get the Madhouse Family out in the fresh air having fun, they sent us through a pack of goodies including a scrapbook and guide to the activities (that you can pick up for free at National Trust properties), as well as a family pass to visit one one of their sites.

I blogged about the campaign last year (here), and we took part in some of the activities including pond dipping, making daisy chains, rolling down hills and making a den. The drawstring bag they sent us has dozens of pictograms representing other simple fun activities for the kids to get involved in to get them out and about and away from their screens.

Pierre was keen to get kitted out in the campaign gear and go out for some outdoor adventures. (We later noticed that you can buy all of these campaign goodies in the National Trust gift shops.)

Right, where to go? And what to do from the activity list?

We decided to head off to Bodiam Castle, which is the most local National Trust property but also very beautiful. I'll do a separate blogpost about the castle itself.

Before heading into the rather spectacular medieval castle itself, we wandered around the grounds.

We counted the ducks (but there were too many and they moved very fast!).

We also looked at the ducks in the moat and tried to spot frogspawn, as it was on the list. We failed (I explained that it's not the right season) but we did see big shapes moving under the surface of the water.

Even the grown-ups were astounded at the size of the fish !

And their mouths !

After visiting the castle, I was delighted to see that one of the activities in the guide was finding a geocache and, even better, there were a couple very close to the castle, including one in the castle grounds, around this World War II pillbox. Unfortunately we didn't find it, and it was teeming with children clambering all over it so we gave up and went to the gift shop instead.

As the kids browsed the shelves, I spotted another geocache on my GPS, located in an old-fashioned phonebox just outside of the castle grounds, and luckily this one was a nice easy find.

It was a lovely day out. Great fun was had by all and the kids were so busy acting out knightly adventures, discovering the wildlife and exploring the castle ruins that nobody needed the medieval naughty step ! 

By September, the National Trust hopes to have helped one in twenty of Britain’s 7-12 year olds (that's 5% of them) break their reliance on gadgets and computers for entertainment, and experience the simple pleasures of outdoor adventure.

The 50 Things to do before you are 11¾ campaign was first launched in 2012. To date over 90,000 of the nation’s youngsters have signed up to tackle the bucket list. Children who complete all the 50 Things on the bucket list will receive a unique visit pass that will enable them and a parent to access over 200 National Trust places, helping them to develop that long term connection to the natural world.

To find out more about the 50 Things, visit

Disclosure : We received an activity pack and  a family pass.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse Diaries : Going round (and round and round) in Roscoff !


  1. Think this is a great campaign, too many kids don't spend enough time out of doors these days. I visited loads of National Trust properties when I was little and had great fun running round and playing in the gardens and grounds. Nowadays they also have players doing outdoor theatre productions that tour around them in the summer months, doing childrens theatre productions in the early evening . We have been to a few and they have been really magical, you take a picnic with you too. We saw a marvellous production of The Water Babies at Morwellham Quay which stands out in my memory but I know they go all over the UK in the hols. I can definitely recommend it.