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Leona O'Neill: As 'normality' returns our kids can thrive in the great outdoors once again.

In the wake of two years of Covid-related restrictions, kids are once again free to enjoy playing together outdoors. Organisations like Holistic Kidz can help youngsters connect with nature via their special adventure camps, writes Leona O'Neill...

Luisne Conlan (7), Susannah McCartney (8), Otto Jones (4), Ronán Daly (6), Elle Brown (6) and Finn Jones (8) at the launch of the 2022 Holistic Kidz Adventure Summer Camps. Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye
Leona O'Neill

THERE are big hopes that this summer will be slightly different to the two that went before. We have a lot more freedom now. Although cases of Covid have spiked again in the community, there is a sense that people are more free to move around, to get out and do things again. And after two years of restrictions our kids are embracing and enjoying time outdoors more than ever.

Over the last couple of years I have been singing the praises of Holistic Kidz, the early years wellness company. They fuse their long-standing passion for children with 20 years of experience specialising in early years, wellness and outdoor learning to create ground-breaking and hugely enjoyable forest experiences that beat sitting in front of the TV any day of the week. They run their adventure camps across the north and parents the land over rave about how much their kids enjoy them.

Northern Ireland has a wealth of beautiful forest areas ready to explore. And forest schools across the world are renowned for offering children opportunities to develop their confidence, social skills, communication adeptness and more by interacting with nature. It also teaches children the importance of being personally sustainable as well as the long list of calming and balancing influences nature has on all of us. Who doesn't feel calmer when surrounded by nature and beauty?

This year, in another positive sign that we are starting to emerge from the pandemic, Holistic Kidz have launched their biggest summer programme yet, adding three new locations and offering five camps across Northern Ireland in July and August. The popular Forest Adventure Summer Camp will once again operate from Barnett Demesne in Belfast and Portglenone Forest Park in Ballymena, and new for summer 2022 are Mount Sandelwood in Coleraine, Redburn Country Park in Holywood and Gortin Glen Forest Park in Omagh.

Each camp takes place weekly between Monday July 4 and Friday August 26 and promises lots of action-packed fun and adventure for children aged four to 12 including forest trekking, stream trails, tepee building, tree swinging, mud bath jumping, bushcraft, outdoor arts and crafts, nature assault courses and mudslide adventures.

Colette McCartney, Founder of Holistic Kidz said they were thrilled to launch the biggest ever Summer Forest Camp programme with five uniquely wonderful locations across Northern Ireland.

"Every year we've made it a priority to increase the number of camps we offer so that as many children as possible can have the opportunity to enjoy some of the Holistic Kidz magic in the great outdoors where they can learn new skills, build their confidence, boost their creativity and enquiring mind and help to develop essential problem-solving skills and independence.

"Scandinavian countries are ranked the healthiest and happiest in the world and one of the reasons behind this is that from a young age children are taught outdoors in all weather conditions.

"Our five forest schools are all outdoors in nature, whatever the weather, and children can avail of the many proven scientific benefits of this including increased energy levels, physical fitness, improved mood and focus and running around breathing in the fresh air always ensures a good night's sleep."

Colette says that weather appropriate and sensible clothing are recommended as there will be lots of exciting outdoor adventures and jumping in muddy puddles – all the things that children love to do best.

A Weekly Explorer to the Holistic Kidz Summer Forest Adventure Camp is £120 per child and a Daily Explorer is £30 per child. Places must be booked in advance.

For further information go to holistickidz.com or @holistic_kidz on Instagram.

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