Grandparents revealed to be the most adventurous of us all

Published : 26 Jul 2017

Born to be wild, grandparents were much more adventurous during their youth in the great outdoors than today's youngsters - half of whom have never even climbed a tree, our recently commissioned survey shows.

Our survey reveals that grandparents are the key ingredient to helping today’s generation develop a connection with the outdoors and nature.

Three quarters of grandparents say they were far more daring in their youth compared to both their children and grandchildren. A huge majority (92 per cent) say that they take great enjoyment from teaching their grandchildren about these adventurous activities, such as building a den or flying a kite. Our survey also reveals that 4 in 5 adults believe children today have less freedom to explore and play outdoors, compared to their own childhood.

The research polled 1,000 grandparents and parents as part of our ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ initiative –  which aims to encourage families to get outdoors and enjoy spending time together, looking at the importance of outdoor family play and how this builds a stronger appreciation and connection to nature. 

To celebrate the joyful experiences the natural world has to offer, we have created a wildlife documentary-style film, bringing to life the innate connection we all have with nature - with grandparents leading the way.

With 61 per cent of grandparents helping with childcare during school holidays, they are the perfect motivators for getting kids engaged with nature. Many admit they have felt a joy in the responsibility to teach their grandchildren about the great outdoors, with 87 per cent of parents and grandparents enjoying seeing their offspring running wild and carefree and 80 per cent taking pleasure from seeing them playing away from technology devices.

Supporting our findings, Behavioural Psychologist Donna Dawson (BA, MSc, PhD) adds, 'Grandparents today are spending more and more time with their grandchildren in the roles of childminder and carer, and consequently getting to share real ‘quality time’ with them. And the research shows that one of the things they are sharing is a love of nature and the great outdoors, something that harks back to their own happy childhood memories. Learning to appreciate nature at a young, impressionable age makes it much more likely that children will grow up to pass on their love of outdoor experiences to future generations.'

The National Trust used independent online market research company, Fly Research, who surveyed 1,000 British adults aged 18+, between 26 – 29 June 2017. Its researchers are members of the MRS, PRCA, BPC and Esomar, and abide by their guidelines. Further information is available at

" There’s no better time to go wild and explore the great outdoors, taking inspiration from our challenges"
- Kate Jones, Ranger