Grown-ups and children alike are in for a treat this month as RSPB Scotland is urging nature lovers to spend a night under the stars for the RSPB's annual Big Wild Sleepout.
For the fourth year running, the charity is encouraging children and their families across Tayside and Fife to sleep out in their own gardens or outdoor spaces to get close to nature and discover which creatures they share their homes with.
Big Wild Sleepout takes place over the last weekend in July and with the late sunsets and early sunrises in store there will be plenty of fun-filled hours for people of all ages to set up camp and spend a memorable night in nature.
Whether it be glamping in tents or caravans, getting back to basics in dens and shelters or even 'roughing it' under open skies and a blanket of stars, there will be Sleepout styles to cater for all levels and ages.
In addition to the thousands of people that will take part in sleepouts in their back gardens, there are organised events at nature reserves across the UK that will allow people to get in touch with nature as well as providing a family adventure experience.
A special Sleepout event will be held at RSPB Scotland Loch Leven on Saturday 30 July offering all ages the chance to experience the secret world of a nature reserve after dark.
Surrounded by the amazing reserve, this is a family camping trip like no other. There will be lots of outdoor activities led by the reserve team. Families can try their hand at pond dipping, bat tracking and den building; learn skills of whittling and fire lighting; have their faces painted; discover the wildlife that lives on the reserve on nature walks, and much more. Once the sun goes down they can experience the nocturnal life of the reserve and toast marshmallows over the fire. Brave families can sleep in their homemade shelters and everyone can wake up to the peaceful sound of songbirds and see what treasures are in the moth trap after a dawn walk.
Craig Leitch is the Outdoor Learning Officer at RSPB Scotland Loch Leven. He said: "The best thing about Big Wild Sleepout is the chance to spend time on the reserve at night; wildlife is more relaxed when there are not so many people around and it's amazing what you can discover. This is our biggest event of the year and tickets are selling fast, so book now and don't miss this fantastic opportunity to spend a night out under the stars on the reserve - it's a truly magical experience."
The Sleepout activities will start on Saturday 30 July at 12 pm but families are invited to arrive from 10 am to start pitching their tents. Adult tickets are £40, Children £20, and family tickets are £120 (two adults and up to three children). RSPB members receive a discount on ticket prices and tickets are £34 for adult members, £16 for Wildlife Explorer members and RSPB family member tickets are £100. All activities and breakfast on Sunday morning in Loch Leven's award-winning cafe are included but families should bring food for the BBQ on Saturday night. Booking is essential and places are limited. For more information or to book, please call 01577 862355 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Big Wild Sleepout is part of the RSPB's 'Giving Nature a Home' campaign [note 1], which is aimed at inspiring everyone to do their bit for nature, wherever they live and however big their outside space. In addition to spending a night in nature's home and getting to know the night-time wildlife around them, those taking part can choose to donate money to help the RSPB give nature a home.
James Harding-Morris, Big Wild Sleepout organiser said: "Thousands of people across the UK will be going on a mini adventure and getting closer to wildlife in our fourth Big Wild Sleepout event. Our main aim is to get children and grown-ups connected to nature to help safeguard it for future generations and what better way to do this than spending a night under the stars and getting to know the amazing animals that thrive in the dark. Nature is in trouble and by taking part in Sleepout and sharing your experiences with the RSPB, we're getting a deeper understanding of the wildlife around us, as well as helping to give nature a home."
Rohan, designer and supplier of outdoor clothing and footwear, has leant its support to Big Wild Sleepout for the second year running. [note 3]
Roger Cann, Managing Director for Rohan, said: "We're delighted to be involved in this year's Big Wild Sleepout again as getting people outdoors, discovering local wildlife and having fun whilst doing so is something Rohan supports. Whether it's wrapping up warm with base layers or waterproofs to keep the rain out, the RSPB's novice or experienced naturalists can kit themselves out for a night in the wild, whatever the weather."
Sign up for a Big Wild Sleepout pack and register to take part at rspb.org.uk/sleepout. Participants will be invited to let the RSPB know once they've taken part and to share their experiences on the website and on social media using #BigWildSleepout.