Ten top tips for a Swallows and Amazons summer

Swallows & Amazons
The Wild Network

Adventures can happen anywhere. You don’t need to own a dinghy, camp out or go fishing to have fun! Here are our top 10 tips for a brilliant summer. Now go forth and make some precious Swallows and Amazons memories of your own!

For more ideas, see The Wild Network

1. Start small and start local

Start small and local

Planning a full-scale Amazon style ambush is very exciting, but not completely necessary to get outdoors (although perfectly adventurous should you desire!). Take a walk down your street and look for the tiniest signs of nature. Count the weeds poking through pavement cracks, listen to the birds on telephone wires. Build up to the ambush planning!

2. Snacks. Snacks. More snacks


As every adventurer knows, you can’t invade Wild Cat Island without a decent store of reserves. Water bottles, plenty of snacks and even a bag of sweets will keep the most timid of adventurers alert and ready for action. Don’t leave camp (or home!) without them.

3. Trust children

Trust children

Kids can learn to be outside and learn to lead. If you’re not ready to send them sailing across lakes, give them a task and a set of boundaries. Or let the kids decide, by picking something to do outside and promise that you’ll do it too (as long as it doesn’t break the law/ put anyone in danger!). Dancing outside in the rain? Keep your promise.

4. Think outside the box

Think outside the box

A stream is for paddling in. But what other things could you do? Floating stuff. Guessing the depth of. Head-dunking. Building a dam in. Checking for mini-beasts. Measuring the flow. Listening to. Pond-dipping in. Drawing a map of. Taking photographs of – close up, landscape, with people and without...

5. Lead by example

Leading by example

Time and time again the kids we speak to report that they would love to be outside more with their parents and family. Wild camping can be a big adventure, but a back garden camp out is safe and everyone can join in. If you’ve no back garden – camp in the living room together!

6. Tenacity


One day of tears and tantrums does not a hermit make. Well, it could do, but don’t let it. Keep your Swallows or Amazons inspired with wet weather activities. Go wild and march on wet grass barefoot. For older kids making bows and arrows is fun, or planning the best routes. Little ones can catch raindrops in pots, or collect stones for washing and painting later on.

7. Make your own little fire-starters

Fire starter

Explorers and adventurers need to know how to make fire – and so did the Swallows and Amazons. It’s a great life skill and also teaches kids science, safety, problem solving and teamwork. Teach kids fire safety for a summer of toasting marshmallows, cooking sausages, staying warm and making hot chocolate. Yum.

8. Be spontaneous

Be spontaneous

Nothing beats the regimented schedules of school terms or a holiday hiatus than a surprise expedition, march to the park, or simple blast of pre bed-time fresh air. Extend these to a surprise night-time adventure, with torches and PJs under rain-macs – by sneakily planning it yourself beforehand. (See point 2 on snacks!).

9. Enlist friends and family

Friends and family

You can’t play Swallows and Amazons when you’re missing half the gang. Grab some friends, gather the whole family and make a special afternoon, day, or weekend of it. Memories like this will last a lifetime.

10. Learn the Swallows and Amazons mantra


Shout out loud, frequently and convincingly, these words: “Swallows and Amazons for-ever!” Use it any time you need to, to create, support teamwork, and foster a sense of courage and adventure, no matter how small it (or they) might be. 

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