This year i have been encouraging a lot of my friends to get involved in my 30 Days Wild Challenge in hope that they will start their own. It was started as a way to get people out in nature and help change their outlook for the better. I must say too that my outlook is much different since doing the challenge last year and i have always been a nature lover. I have noticed i still look for caterpillars & blue tits as last year i was unable to photograph them, but after unintentionally looking for them over the last year i think i have a better understanding of where and when to find them. This year i have managed to photograph both already. This year since my oak tree spotting session i am finding my self looking up at the trees and trying to guess what they are. One thing i can tell you is beech trees are great for picnicking under!
I really do recommend anyone taking up the challenge & getting all their family involved too. So here are my 10 reasons to ‘go wild’ for 30 days every June.
- The Weather. Living in the UK can be unpredictable but the last 2 years June has been mostly hot and sunny with the added bonus of thunder storms and heavy down pours. After Walking up Boxhill this year on a very hot and sunny day it was exhilarating to dance in the rain of the thunder-storm that followed us home & so refreshing.
- Re-visite Your Childhood. Do you remember paddling in the stream with your cousins, or running through the sprinklers at the end of a hot day? or Did you ever climb Trees, build dens, Do leaf prints & tree bark rubbings? Well they are all random acts of wildness and its a great excuse to revisit your childhood with your families. I am certainly planning on taking my little girl to the beach to go rock pooling & pond dipping this year & the little girl inside me is bubbling up with excitement about it.
- Fitness. Having gained weight during pregnancy, the fact that this challenge is really helping me lose weight is fantastic. In my first week ‘the week of walking’ I dropped 2 inches round my hips. Obviously you need to tailor-made your random acts of wildness to incorporate walking, climbing, cycling (what ever floats your boat) but i have found most activities can be very active & good for the old fitness plan. With this in mind, it also doesn’t limit people to their fitness ability. You organise your month so you can do things that work for you. So if you are a wheelchair user for example you can still visite the beach, or tend to your garden, watch a live webcam or take on a photo challenge & most nature reserves & gardens are wheelchair/pram accessible now.
- Family Days. This is probably one of my favorite things about it. My little girl is loving it, she is 18 months old and has her own little (ladybird) nature gathering bag. She will find 2 sticks at the start of every walk and will chase bees & butterflies & play in the long grass. You also want to see just how drenched she got from slashing in the river with me! It’s also given us time with my parents as they are big nature lovers & they are really loving getting quality time with us & grandparent time is so important especially when granddad buys us ice cream!
- New Experiences. You know those events you see advertised every year that you say ‘One year we should go to that’. Here is your chance to do it! In fact one of the first things i did was to look up events in June & i discovered loads of things i would never have thought of & a lot of them are affordable or free. Other people have invited us to things too as they ‘saw we were taking part in 30DaysWild’ (Thankyou Social Media) & so we get days out with other families to places we have never been. I am more spontaneous and out going and very open to trying new things.
- Photography. This is a great excuse to dust off the old DSLR or make some space on you phone or camara. I am a bit of an amature nature photographer & last year i snapped some of my best work during 30DaysWild. This year i literally dusted off my DSLR because with a toddler i just haven’t ‘had the time’ & this has given me the excuse i needed. I’m so glad i did as i finally got that damn Blue Bird picture that eluded me last June. The caterpillar picture i mentioned i took on my phone, i highly recommend using your smart phones too as you can get a lovely variety of photos. Photography is also an opertunity to get some ‘me time’ too. Getting away from noisy family life & just surround yourself with streams, trees, warm breezes. Heaven.
- Educate & Inspire. The main reason behind 30DaysWild. The Wildlife Trusts want to educate and inspire people to get back out into nature & teach your children fun can be had away from technology. My dad always took us for nature walks when we were kids. Some days when he had us walking up a mini mountain in the blistering heat i was not so enthusiastic but looking back now i am so glad he did & i can see just how important that actually was. 30DaysWild not only gets you out but it brings nature and wildlife to social media. Their Facebook page has regular posts all year round & it has created a real online community. I personally have learnt that one walk can teach you so much about the natural world & give you lots to ponder on.
- Cheap & Easy. People are always looking for days out that are not too strenuous on the old purse strings and the be all and end all is nature is free. You could do the whole month and not spend a penny. Just open your front door and walk to the river, or watch a thunderstorm, or count and record bees using a free app. See my previous post ‘Affordable Wildness’ for some more ideas. I am sure there is bound to be the odd pessimist out there who will point out you’ll need to pay for lunch and travel. My point would be that you each lunch daily anyway & taking a picnic is always an option & on occasions where you drive why not car share to save on the old pennies or go via train on a group ticket. There are always ways to keep the cost down, you just have to do a bit of research.
- Wellness. Speaking as someone who has battled with stress & anxiety in the past & who supports someone with extreme anxiety and panic attack i can really see the benefits to recommending this challenge to those in need of a positive focus in their lives. For many people leaving their house is hard but this challenge can give you some to focus on while you are out. My partner for one really didn’t want to come for a walk with us at the start but once he started taking pictures and discovered a tank (yes an actual tank on a vineyard)he soon relaxed which doesn’t often happen with him. For me it is more of a social anxiety issue & i am finding that i am talking with people i pass more as the calming influences of nature are keeping me relaxed. So take it at your own pace, push yourself a little more each day and keep a record so you can see how far you have come by the end.
- Helping the Environment. Just by learning about the wildlife around you, you are helping the environment because you become more a wear of plants and animals and what they need to keep them safe and healthy. ie: Bee’s need flowers to pollinate & dropping litter can endanger pond wildlife. Simple but important. I have become quite a litter gather now too especially with people picnicking and not cleaning up after themselves. I’ve been called ‘a hippy’ for doing it but i honestly don’t care. If it helps the environment then all the better. The other point is by doing activities like walking, cycling, litter picking you are not burning fuel and harming the environment in that way too.
There are so many positive reasons to take up this challenge so sign up, for free via the wildlife trust webpage & get out into nature.