Helping kids enjoy simple pleasures and the wonders of the natural world

Young children from all over Scotland are being urged to put down their tablets, get into the fresh air and make memories of a childhood surrounded by the simple wonders of nature.

Kids are going back to simple pleasures with the help of the National Trust for Scotland, who run nature clubs for all ages at their properties across the country.

Rangers at National Trust for Scotland are running a series of fun learning clubs for children of all ages to get them switched onto the joys of the natural environment and how to care for it in the future.

From learning about beasties and birds to searching rockpools and keeping beaches clean, NTS are turning the beautiful spaces in their keep into outdoor classrooms of the most fun and stimulating kind.

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Ashleigh Evans is a countryside ranger at Culzean Castle and Countryside Park, where dozens of children visit every week to explore the woodland, its ponds and the three miles of shoreline that surrounds the clifftop pile.

The great playground of the great outdoors is being opened up to young ones with the help of National Trust for Scotland.

The Nature Nippers club is designed for those aged under five with parents urged to join in the experience of learning about the environment with their young ones.

Pond dipping, snail races and teddy bears picnics are just a few of the activities designed to get the young ones loving the outdoors with sessions fun, mucky and completely memorable.

Worm charming, where young ones stamp on the ground to raise the insects, is always popular.

Ms Evans said: "The young ones are learning and having fun but family memories are also being made.

Parents are urged to join their kids in the fresh air and help them learn about the natural world.

"It is lovely when you here a child say to their parent 'mum saw a crab' or if they hold an animal that they were previously too scared to touch.

"It is about getting kids outdoors and doing new things and having new experiences. The best thing for us is when they say 'mum, I want to come back'."

Culzean is a perfect habitat for young budding naturalists with its thick woodland and stretch of beach, where dunes and rockpools meet.

On the shoreline, the impact of climate change and pollution is being explored with the Plastic Not Fantastic campaign which is encouraging children to litter pick the sands and think about the consequences of waste.

The Nature Nippers clubs run by National Trust for Scotland introduces the wonders of nature to those aged five and under.

"The work we are doing is really relevant and it is encouraging young people to think about the future and the part they will play in protecting the planet. We know that these are issues that both parents and their children really care about and want to learn about," Ms Evans said,

Kids of all ages are encouraged to go green and get into nature at Culzean, with the Mini Rangers club attracting those aged between five and 10 and the Junior Rangers for those aged between 11 and 18.

The nature clubs are run not just at Culzean, but at NTS properties across the country from Newhailes House near Musselburgh to stunning Glencoe in the Highlands.

Building habitats and taking part in bee and bat surveys are some of the tasks undertaken by the older children.

These clubs are part of a national programme led by the Scottish Country Ranger Association, with those who take part having an opportunity to gain a Junior Ranger certificate and take the first step towards a career caring for the outdoors.

From little things, grow great opportunities.

Ms Evans said: "We give try and give kids who come to the nature clubs a life experience. They are getting outside, away from their tablets and learning about the world

"We do face competition from other activities, like football, but here we are helping kids really discover new things and helping them to learn something new.

"It is also about making memories for parents and children and also helping young people today think about their environment and thinking about its future. You really see kids getting a lot out of it - and their parents too."

-Win a five-night adventure for two adults and up to two children at some of the country's most treasured places with a year's family membership with National Trust for Scotland included in the prize.

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