National Trust: 50 Things to do Before You're 11 3/4

Future 5 awards 2013.

Launch date: April 2012


In April 2012 the National Trust launched a nationwide campaign to encourage sofa-bound children to take to the outdoors. The ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ initiative is in response to a report commissioned by the National Trust which highlighted evidence of a long-term and dramatic decline in children’s relationship with the outdoors. Research showed that fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree, one in ten can’t ride a bike, and three times as many are taken to hospital after falling out of bed, as from falling out of a tree.

The initiative aims to tackle this worrying evidence and enable children to develop a personal connection with nature before the age of 12.

Strategy and details of activity

The 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ campaign provides a checklist of outdoor adventures including everything from playing conkers and bug hunting, to setting up a snail race, flying a kite and making a (delicious) mud pie. The original list collated from staff and volunteers, has since been re-launched in May 2013 with the nation’s list of the best outdoor adventures recommended by children from all over the country, all of which can be done either with a helping hand from the National Trust or closer to home.

Over 350 Trust places are offering families the opportunity to tick off the adventures on the list through self-led activities or by joining one of the 7,000+ events. ‘50 things’ scrapbooks are available to pick up for free to encourage long-term engagement with the campaign.

This is supported by, which enables "screen-time" to actually be the facilitator of "wild-time" outdoors. By signing up for free, users can navigate around an interactive list of all 50 things, guided by their very own virtual explorer. By completing each adventure online users receive virtual rewards for their explorer, certificates and can unlock secret challenges which drive continuous participation.


Since launching in 2012, the initiative has truly captured the hearts of the nation. In 2012 the campaign reached an average of 13% awareness in the UK, with 16 stories in National Press, 7 TV, 26 radio hits (300 million OTS), 37 million opportunities to see on social media and 42,000 interactions on social channels.

This has continued to grow into 2013 with our re-launch of the nation’s list; which increased awareness to 17% in the UK, and an additional 327 million opportunities to see through PR, and 10,000 interactions through social channels.

Over 100,000 scrapbooks have been given-away so far (580,000 of these via The Guardian), and more than 50,000 children have registered to the 50 things microsite. In 2012, 90% of visitors engaging in the campaign at Trust places stated they would spend more time outdoors as a result of the campaign.

Business outcome

50 things to do before you’re 11¾ has become arguably one of the Trust’s most successful campaigns.

This campaign is just one part of the Trust’s wider work with external partners that is seeking to enable children to develop a personal connection with nature before the age of 12.

By standing up for an issue that is beyond the boundaries of the National Trust, this initiative has strengthened the organisations’ family offer and contributed to the shifting of perceptions of the National Trust  a towards an organisation that is just as well known for its outdoor spaces as its historic houses (63% endorsement that the National Trust enables people to enjoy the outdoors). It has also boosted family visitor enjoyment at those National Trust places that have offered 50 things activities (84% of those interacting with 50 things rating their visit as very enjoyable since May 2013).

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in