Northern Ireland news

New summer camps launched to encourage children to be more outdoors with nature

Founder of Holistic Kidz Colette McCartney with new Forest School Camp Coaches Cara Gallan, Kathryn McCollough, Rebecca McCracken and Michael Armstrong

THE founder of Northern Ireland's first forest school has launched new summer camps to encourage children to embrace nature.

Colette McCartney said allowing kids to "enjoy, explore and connect with the natural world" would provide numerous benefits.

The Holistic Kidz Forest Adventure Camp has been based in Barnett Demesne in Belfast since 2019, but due to increased demand it has added forest schools in Crawfordsburn and Portglenone forest parks.

An Olympic athlete, medical students as well as scout and youth leaders are among the 16 coaches employed to deliver the camps, which are for children aged 4-12 and include forest trekking, stream trails, tepee building, tree swinging, mud bath jumping and holistic arts and crafts.

Ms McCartney said children would be able to "get in more green time rather than screen time".

"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," she said.

"Our three 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.

"Our ethos is very much built around nature and giving our Holistic Kidz the opportunity to learn new skills, build their confidence, boost their creativity and enquiring mind and help to develop essential problem-solving skills and independence."

She added that the aim was to "offer a sprinkle of good old fashioned outdoor muddy play that many generations before us enjoyed so fondly growing up".

"It is important that parents invest in activities for their children that lay solid foundations for an all-round wholesome child," Ms McCartney said.

"Getting outdoors in nature gives children a happier, healthier childhood that they each deserve."

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