Friday 19 July 2013

Use your local forest to cheaply entertain the children this summer

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I had this timely press release from the Forestry Commission this week:

New Survey Reveals Parents ‘Dread the Cost of Summer Holidays’

Families are being invited to enjoy public forests this summer, after a new survey shows parents dread the cost of entertaining their children during the school break.

A Forestry Commission study has revealed that in the average family, parents spend nearly £4,8001 (£4,762.66) each year on keeping their children entertained.

Nearly half (48%) admitted they dread the cost of occupying their children each summer, when the costs of entertaining them rises by nearly £60 (£59.96) each week compared to during term time.

Researchers found that items like attraction tickets, toys, computer games and sports activities mean most mums and dads will part with around £400 (£396)2 each month in the year to keep the kids from becoming bored.

If the cost of family holidays is factored in, when the average British family takes two holidays per year, this rises to an average of nearly £630 (£626.50) per month or a total of £7,500 (£7,517.84) a year.

Rather than spending money on expensive excursions or indoor activities this summer, the Forestry Commission is urging parents to look to their local forests as a one stop shop for all kinds of exciting activities.

Contrary to popular belief, half of the population of England lives six miles from the nearest forest and the Forestry Commission wants more people to treat the country’s public woodland spaces as their very own playground.

Josephine Lavelle from the Forestry Commission said: “You don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds to keep your children occupied this summer as there is one place that combines all the fun of an adventure park, wildlife attraction, science centre and art gallery where admission for all is free* - your local forest.

“It is concerning to see that so many parents dread the prospect of financing their children’s entertainment through the summer holidays and it doesn’t have to be this way.

“A day out to one of the Forestry Commission sites makes the most of the summer holiday without breaking the bank as forests can be visited again and again and enjoyed in a variety of ways.

“Rather than worrying about spending money on games consoles or expensive theme parks, taking your children into the forest shows them how much fun it can be to play outdoors, climbing trees, enjoying bike rides, exploring nature and using their imagination.”

The survey also revealed that 78% of parents felt guilty for not having as much time as they would like with their children and 45% said they would find it difficult thinking of ways to keep their child entertained.

Lack of money prevented 40% of parents from doing more to entertain their children, while a further 38% blamed their hectic workloads and 32% said they were simply too busy.

Frequent visitors can also save money on trips to the forest by using the Forestry Commission’s Discovery Pass, which offers generous discounts on parking, shopping and activities, along with a seasonal e-newsletter packed with forest news and events.
The survey results have been generated in a survey commissioned by the Forestry Commission of 2,000 parents of school-aged children. Click here to view the full survey.

* Forestry Commission sites are free to visit but parking charges may apply at different locations. The National Arboretum at Westonbirt is the only Forestry Commission site which charges for entry and until 30 September costs £8 per adult and £7 per concession, with children going free between 20 July and 1 September and paying £3 until 30 September..

1 From Forestry Commission Cost of Entertaining Survey 2013. Calculated by adding the amount spent by parents on activities each month to the 29% per week additional spend over the six week break plus two visits per year to attractions, where the average cost for a family of four is £142.56

2 Calculated by adding up the amount spent on activities each month and adding the cost of the amount spent on attractions, divided into 12 monthly instalments.

I know that I will be heading up to Whinlatter during the holiday to make use of the great outdoor space up there! Why don't you head out to your local forest?

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