Summer events for eco-friendly children

Across Ireland there are camps, activities and events to bring nature closer to home

Let us allow children to love the Earth before we ask them to save it, says American academic David Sobel, who is best known for developing the philosophy of place-based education.

The increasing breach between families and the natural world is worrying not only for children’s physical and mental health but for the long-term fate of the planet.

Children in Ireland often first become aware of environmental issues through the Green Schools programme. An international education programme, environmental management system and award scheme, it was introduced here by An Taisce in 1997. More than 3,800 schools participate in it, with 2,635 primary schools and 404 secondary schools having earned at least one Green Flag.

To get a Green flag, schools must complete a seven-step process that includes not only evaluating, monitoring and changing behaviour within the school but also involving the wider community.


School is out now for the summer, but An Taisce encourages pupils and their families to continue opting to travel by foot, bike and public transport where possible. It also encourages those living on the coast to get involved with its Clean Coasts programme ( and organise beach clear-ups.

Most of all, parents should take advantage of the school holidays to immerse children in the great variety of natural settings that are in such easy reach in Ireland – the beaches, national parks and forests. Also check out what might be happening in a community garden in your locality, through the An Taisce Green Communities Facebook page.

Other eco-related events suitable for children include:

Bushcraft camps Earth Force Education is running forest school and bushcraft day camps on a variety of dates through July and August in two Co Wicklow locations, for the following age groups: five to eight, nine to 13 and 14 to 17. Cost: €30 a day or four days for €100. ECO-Explorer summer camp Environmental topics are explored in fun, interactive and creative ways at weekly summer camps for children aged five to 11, run by Eco- Unesco at C2 The Complex, Benburb Street, next to Collins Barracks, in Dublin. Cost: €100. See

Discover nature The Office of Public Works, in association with Eco-Unesco, is running nature-related day camps in the Phoenix Park for children aged five to 11 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-3.30pm throughout July. Booking 01-6770095;

Tern watch The Dublin South branch of Bird Watch Ireland holds a Tern Watch at Coliemore Harbour Viewing Area, Dalkey, Co Dublin every Tuesday evening in July, from 6.30pm to 8pm. Nature walk Enjoy a walk at Strandhill, Co Sligo to view orchids, butterflies, birds, etc. Meet at the car park by Culleenamore beach on Sunday, July 19th, at 1pm. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Between the tides Study the seaweeds, molluscs, crustaceans, polychaetes and birds on the shoreline in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, on a guided walk on Saturday, August 8th, 11am–1.30pm and again on Sunday, August 30th, 5pm-7.30pm. To book, contact Laila Higgins on 086-328 4279 or

This is one of a series of biodiversity events organised by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council throughout the summer.

Burren Wild Child Due to demand for its now booked-out July camp, Burrenbeo Trust is repeating its Wild Child summer camp for children aged six to 12 at Carron, Co Clare on August 11th-13th. Cost: €30. The trust also runs guided walks on the first Sunday of each month.

Family day in the woods As part of National Heritage Week, Earth Force Education is hosting a Forest School Family Day on Sunday, August 23rd, at Castleruddery Organic Farm, near Donard, Co Wicklow, 10.30am- 3.30pm. Cost: €20 per family (or €8 adult, €5 child). Booking required on

Bat Walk Enter the mysterious world of the nocturnal hunting mammals with members of Bat Conservation Ireland on a guided walk in Marlay Park, Dublin on Friday, August 28th at 8.15pm. Booking required.

Bird and butterfly walk There’s a chance of spotting the rare Purple Hairstreak butterfly in the woods beside the US ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. A guided walk will be held on Wednesday, August 26th, at 6.30pm, starting from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.

National Whale Watching Day The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group organises free, land-based events all along the coast on Sunday, August 23rd, 2pm-5pm, as part of Heritage Week.

Required viewing If seeing African farmers surveying newly barren land doesn't move you to take climate change seriously, how about waves flooding over the sea wall in Clontarf? The 28-minute film Drop in the Ocean? Ireland and Climate Change ( might get you rethinking the issue.