Let kids be kids, they don’t need wrapping up in bubblewrap

Come on, let kids have some fun.

I went to the Doc the other day for a check-up. Apparently, my blood pressure was a little high so she advised me to do a bit more physical activity, walking up hills is good she said.

So off I went, walking along the Arrow River heading for the hilly section like the good Doctor said. I had a lovely time, even though my legs hurt but when I came back down to the river I saw a sight to make my heart sing.

There tucked away in the bush was the makings of a great tree hut.

Seeing this hut took me back to my own childhood, making huts and forts all over the place, spending all day away from home, feeding ourselves with crabs we’d caught with huge home made spears or freshly caught fish, burn’t to a crisp on a fire we made from driftwood.

The only advice we received from our long-suffering Mum and Dad was “Don’t kill yourself” or “Be home before it gets dark”. Many a long day was spent thieving old building materials from around the area, borrowing Dad’s hammers and nails, and generally building the worlds dodgiest huts.

No consent required for this beauty.

I could easily tell from checking out the building here that this was the work of genuine Kiwi kids.

The sawhorse flogged from out the back of Dad’s shed, random left over rusty nails chucked into boxes, the incredibly dangerous ladder to take them up to the upper reaches of the tree where they would no doubt sit and tell all the stories that seem so important to kids.

My kids used to make huts like this one down in the same forest. I guess kids have been doing this for millennia. The kids of the gold miners probably did the very same thing. I was genuinely stoked to see this.

Then I walked on a little further and came across a bunch of young-uns about to cross the river. I struck up a conversation with a few of them and found that they were from Winton Primary School and were just heading off to their camp at Macetown, a 15 km walk away.

Winton Primary School kids getting into nature

Funnily I heard one of the wee girls ask, after crossing the first river, “Is that all?”

Nah sorry love, you have at least 23 more river crossings, you’re going to have wet feet all day! Then you’re going to do it all again on the way home.

These kids struck me as really confidant. They were happy to talk to me, an adult, and were all excited about their upcoming adventure. Their parents and teachers should be proud.

I recall my own kids going to this camp, way up in the hills behind Arrowtown. I had the easy part of the deal though, driving a 4×4 in with tents and provisions. I did nearly drown my Hilux that day though. When water comes over the windscreen wipers, you know you have probably chosen the wrong place to cross!

On the kids from Winton Primary walked, until some of the boys spied a rope swing. Straight into it, they were, despite calls from the teacher who clearly knew that there was a long way to go.

Rule one of camp. If there is a rope swing, you must swing on it.

So all in all, a lovely walk. My spirits were lifted, kids were out being kids, a great day.

Until I walked up to the local skatepark on my way back to the car.

Arrowtown skatepark

I had been pre-warned by my son that the PC Brigade had been out in force.

Some clown, I imagine from the council but I’m not sure, had put up signs advising all and sundry that there were “Tripping Hazards” everywhere within the skatepark!

Not only that, but the idiots had even spray painted, with dayglo pink paint, each join in the concrete where they felt these tripping hazards might exist!

Now, normally we are the ones telling the teenagers not to paint tags etc in places like this. I fail to understand how this paint-bombing of everything with pink paint is any different to some ratbag scrawling his name all over it. Both are an eyesore. Neither serves any purpose except to make some loser feel better about themselves.

The weirdest part was looking at the bits that they thought we needed a warning about. Quite how a vertical join up a 50-degree spine could ever be a tripping hazard is beyond me!

Careful now, don’t trip while walking sideways along a vertical ridge!

Now, fortunately, our local kids have been bred with some common sense. I understand all the signs have been dutifully picked up and placed in the recycling bin where they belong. Time will fade the paint, but jeeze, what sort of fools do we have running the joint that thought this might be a good idea?

I bet they are out there ripping down the non-compliant tree hut as I write!

So good on the kids of Arrowtown and Winton. I am so glad to see that our Kiwi culture is alive and well and living in Central Otago.

You can do your part too. Take your kids or grandkids out and do some adventuresome stuff with them. Build that hut, take that trek, and hunt that rabbit, before the PC nannies ban all that stuff too.

Remember that it’s these kids that will make the most resourceful adults in the future, much like yourself. Have a great day.