Reconnecting kids with nature with The Wild Network

At the end of last month I was fortunate enough to be part of the first ever ‘gathering of nature’s marketing department’.  It was a 48 hour event with The Wild Network for their ‘Wild Summer’ initiative, a follow up to the film they made last year. The event, or ‘swarm’, was a collaboration of a hundred designers, developers, marketers and nature lovers coming together to work across a number of different challenges. Each challenge contributing to the ultimate goal of getting kids to reconnect with nature and get outdoors this summer. 

Reconnecting kids with nature is something I really believe in – particularly the idea of using technology to help facilitate ‘outdoor time’. And working with Wild Network members the National Trust on the 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ campaign since its inception, I've become even more passionate about it.

The digital world and technology changes every day - it’s an incredibly fast moving landscape. Children today are growing up in a completely different world and we’re not actually really sure what impact that’s going to have yet. But of course, technology is not going away and can be a great enabler. Rather than fight against it therefore, the event was all about how to use it to facilitate and enhance the great outdoor experiences and times we once had as children. 

Hard thinking interspersed with participation in some animal themed songs and outdoor activities, we were all inspired and the room was buzzing with ideas. Followed by some prototyping, concepting and on to the final presentations. 

The outcome was a really successful couple of days with some fantastic ideas, great people and a real drive to make a difference. A new web-based tool kit giving local communities all they need to set up a local Wild Network, a ‘Kids Watch’ citizen science project - a kind of cross between Big Garden Birdwatch and Neighbourhood watch, a set of wild-tech activities such as creating a digital bird box to photo diary activity and a ‘Wildtime-inator’ tool to help teachers find Wild Time activities to do with their class, were just some of the projects which people came up with.