50 things to do before you're 21
It's high summer all of a sudden. Eleanor Doughty reckons the National Trust's list of things to do outside before you’re 11¾ is the last word in summer fun
Friday 19 July 2013
There’s nothing like a rose-tinted sweep back in time, of a Friday afternoon. So rest your weary heads – for I know the sun is melting the very inside of your soul, and embrace the fruits of your youth.
It starts and ends with The National Trust, as most things should. I was disappointed to discover that the famous institution does not appear on a recently published list of UK’s most trusted businesses, before realising they were all shops. And The National Trust is more than just a gift shop: it is fabulous. This time, its fabulousness has produced an amazing colour tick box sheet. Named 50 things to do before you’re 11¾, it is divided into five sections: ‘adventurer’, ‘discoverer’, ‘ranger’, ‘tracker’, ‘explorer’, each forming 10 wholesome, slightly mucky and generally character-enhancing activities that the NT deems necessary for every child shortly under the age of 12.
I am almost double that and I’m excited. My 12-year-old cousin has an iPhone. She’s only just out of the checklist’s range. Even if iPhones had been invented when I was that age, I'm not sure I would have had one.
I like to think that this is the point the NT is making. It says that ‘there’s nothing quite like fresh air, exercise and family time’. And that ‘you can’t beat the fun you have in the Great Outdoors and creating memories that will last a lifetime’. This is the kind of kiddie propaganda this country needs. Great use of pronouns too. Score.
To scrutinise the list in more detail, I referred to my recent years. Number 19 is ‘pooh sticks’, something I continued until my mid-teens, and now I feel a great urge to play it again, along with throwing myself into a paddling pool, obvs. I used to play it wherever I could find an appropriate setting, such was the A. A. Milne effect.
The NT claims bike riding as number 11: I’ve done my time, but now remain unconvinced by cycling thanks to London’s inability to control its lorry drivers. Climbing trees is first on the list. If you’ve not tried – and failed, like me, lacking motor skills – to climb a tree then I suggest you go and do it right now. Somewhere during my A-Levels I was able to tick number four, building a fabulous den indoors for an art project. It promptly flopped, like all good dens should and took days to clear up. When the snow came in 2011, in my first term at university, I flirted with icy architecture. Snow is only for skiing, in my mind. But I played it in, in flip flops: this was a silly idea. The National Trust also identifies that going ‘on a walk barefoot’ is a requisite activity too, my last experience of this being post-summer ball when my shoes hurt too much and had to come off.
So while National Trust seems to think it has those up to and including the age of 11 and three quarters covered, I venture that us nearly grown-ups need some help too. But in the absence of any list deemed good enough to compete with the Trust’s version, I simply command you to get outside and stop reading my drivel. It’s 30 degrees so make a mud pie to cool you down. Or perhaps you could find a 'geocache', whatever that is. Because if National Trust says so, then it must be law.
Eleanor Doughty is a second-year student at Queen Mary, University of London. Follow her on Twitter here. She probably won't follow you back.
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