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A NEW initiative aims to bring Oxfordshire’s ‘cotton wool kids’ into contact with the great outdoors.

The scheme, which is supported by TV presenter and wildlife activist Chris Packham, is due to be launched later in the year.

It will see literary-inspired family nature camps run by The Bushcraft Company, which has a centre in Cornbury Park near Charlbury.

It comes on the back of statistics that showed more than 60 per cent of parents would rather keep their children indoors than deal with the clean-up process after a foray into nature.

Mr Packham, former The Really Wild Show presenter, said: "Our natural instinct as humans is to explore the outside world and be adventurous.

"Indeed this has been critical to our evolution and vital to our survival.

“Yet our growing distaste for getting grubby has meant that a child in nature is fast becoming an endangered species.”

Professor Scrubbington’s, which makes cleaning products for children and young people, conducted a survey of parents and their attitudes to messy play.

Forty-one per cent admitted restricting their children’s messy play to a few times a month or less, while 12 per cent said they would never allow their kids to enjoy messy play outdoors.

In a bid to get families better connected to nature and each other, Professor Scrubbington's teamed up with The Bushcraft Company – which provides outdoor learning experiences for children in four centres – including in Cornbury Park.

Together they will launch the first ever literary-inspired family nature camps, which they hope will inspire children and their parents to come together and nurture their sense of outdoor adventure.

Nigel Miller, managing director at The Bushcraft Company said: “Children can experience things they would normally be resistant to.

"They get muddy, they jump in the lakes, they forage with their peers and enjoy a sense of camaraderie together.

“Without continuous hands-on experience, it is impossible for children to acquire a deep intuitive understanding of the natural world.”

Children will be invited to bring a family favourite adventure story to their adventure camp.

The hope is that this will both re-kindle parents' childhood memories of exploring outside whilst inspiring children with adventure stories.

For more information about The Bushcraft Company go to thebushcraftcompany.com

For a fact sheet on how to nurture children through nature at home visit scrubbingtons.com