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4 out of 5 irish parents worry about stranger danger

Hours in front of a screen, less time playing outdoors and a society faced with the concern of ‘stranger danger’ has led to a generation of children who simply don’t have the freedom to explore the natural world around them, according to new research from Compass Club by Coillte.

Half of children in Ireland (51%) only spend 30 minutes or less playing outdoors after school and parents overwhelmingly admit (64%) that this is far less than when they were children. This worrying trend is leading to what has been termed ‘nature deficit disorder’ amongst a generation of children.

Children are missing out on life forming nature experiences with the research showing that almost half (45%) have never climbed a tree, the same portion (48%) have never gone walking in a forest with friends, two in three (62%) have never pitched a tent, more than two-thirds (69%) have never toasted marshmallows over a fire, almost three quarters (74%) have never sat around a campfire and a staggering eight in 10 (84%) have never used a compass.

Compass Club by Coillte is a new afterschool outdoor programme in Irish forests nationwide designed to help children to grow a love for the outdoors, through fun experiences and activities that get them out and about with their friends and develop essential life skills that stick with them for life. They have developed a unique new afterschool programme of outdoor skills for 6 to 12-year-olds, taking place in 47 locations nationwide from 19th September 2016. The clubs take place in Coillte forests mainly and are designed to encourage exploration and discovery in a supervised environment with small group sizes creating a greater sense of freedom.

The child-led courses are built on the principles of strength-based education and the syllabus is designed to develop problem-solving, critical thinking, inquiry and investigation, spatial awareness and sensory perception – all with a healthy dose of fun. For kids, they get to pick up school curriculum skills in an environment that couldn’t be any different from a classroom. Their awesome forest adventures include everything from navigation, knot skills, rope swings, scavenger hunts, games, building shelters, learning about habitats and toasting marshmallows.

Further information on course locations and September start dates can be found at Each school term has a different theme with new experiences and skills. Afterschool Courses are six weeks long, 12 hours with a two hourly session one afternoon per week, and cost €120.

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About the Author

Formerly the editor of, Mairéad Cahalan is a creator of content, a lover of music, red wine and coffee, and a part-time wedding singer! Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and LinkedIn.


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