The humble stick revealed as the must-have toy for summer

Published : 27 Jul 2016 Last update : 15 Nov 2016

Recent research has shown that children are now spending only half as much time playing outdoors as their parents’ generation did. If you’re concerned that your kids aren’t getting enough time out in the fresh air then help is at hand – in the form of the simple stick.

We conducted a survey which showed that 84% of parents believe that playing outdoors makes their children more imaginative and creative, while 96% felt it was important for children to have a connection with nature.

These findings are supported by Child Developmental Psychologist Dr. Sam Wass, who  said ‘Being outdoors, with space to run around, is something that benefits all children… they have to use their imagination and their own creativity much more they do when they are indoors, watching screen media. [These] are vital life skills that will help children stay attuned to nature and to the environment throughout their adult lives.’

" A stick can be a pen, a sword, a witch’s broom…anything! That’s what childhood should be about – getting outdoors and going on adventures, using your imagination."
- Raleigh Ritchie

The survey also analysed the benefits of a range of toys, with the simple stick voted the best for fuelling children’s imaginative play and creativity.

As part of our 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ campaign, we’re encouraging families across the country to get outdoors and start their story with nature. We’ve teamed up with musician Raleigh Ritchie to celebrate all the weird and wonderful adventures you can have with a stick that make it the must-have toy of the summer.

In a change of scene from his Game of Thrones role as Grey Worm, Raleigh has written a rap to support the campaign; bringing to life the never-ending possibilities of creative play when you’ve got a stick to hand.

Find a stick and unleash adventures
Raleigh Ritchie and a gang of young adventurers
Find a stick and unleash adventures

‘For some people, a stick is just a stick’ said Raleigh, ‘However, I want to encourage young people to see that actually the possibilities are endless. It can be a pen, a sword, a witch’s broom…anything! That’s what childhood should be about – getting outdoors and going on adventures, using your imagination.’

As a conservation charity, we’re dedicated to looking after special outdoors places and making them accessible for everyone to enjoy. Ed Anderson, National Trust ranger at Osterley Park in London said: ‘With the natural environment under pressure, we hope that instilling a love for nature in our children now will help us encourage them to continue to protect the beauty of the great outdoors for years and generations to come.’

Sticks aren’t just for the kids, either: ‘We’re all big kids at heart’ says Raleigh, ‘It’s never too late to have some fun and start your story with nature’.

Children having a snail race on the pavement at a National Trust site.

‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’ 

Get up close and personal with nature by trying '50 things to do before you're 11¾'. Whether it's making friends with a bug or stargazing, there's loads to do, wherever you are.