Forget the TV - families set themselves 50 challenges for 2014 to get their children away from gadgets

Daily Echo: The Hurley and Guenier families The Hurley and Guenier families

IT’S a familiar scene played out in homes across the county.

At times an entire family can be glued to their smart phones, tablets, laptops or the telly, barely tearing their eyes away from the screen to answer a question.

But two Hampshire families are determined their sons and daughters will not lose their childhood to gadgets.

Meet the Gueniers – mum Cathy, dad Chris, who works in IT and their children Harvey, 11, Joe, 8 and baby Grace and their neighbours the Hurleys – mum Louise, dad Pete, a secondary school teacher and children Robert, 10, and Mary, 8.

Rather than allowing their children to become couch potatoes, they have come up with an unique idea to get more active and spend time together.

Each family has set 50 unique challenges to complete in 2014 ranging from helping a charity and seeing a wild seal to making a tandoor oven, foraging for food and sleeping under the stars.

And now their ‘Challenge 50’ idea to encourage a more positive mindset is snowballing, with dozens of families taking part where they live in Swanmore.

“We’re just normal, everyday people but we were just sick of all the telly and games,” explains Cathy.

“The thing is though it wasn't just the kids, we are all guilty of it.

“We were out for a meal recently, Grace was asleep and I noticed we were all on gadgets and I thought ‘how sad!’

"I’m the first to say I’m guilty of letting technology babysit for me, it’s easy to say ‘just watch telly’ but our family unit is too important, that’s why we are doing it.”

Once they decided on coming up with 50 challenges, each family took time together to discuss activities they’d all like to try making sure they didn't cost a lot and the entire family could get involved.

“Each of us came up with lots of ideas of what we would like to do (except for my baby sister Grace!)

My mum wants us to all play a tune on a musical instrument and to help a charity, my dad wants us to climb a mountain and my brother wants us to sleep in a hammock under the stars, trying new challenges will give us more to talk about as a family,” says Harvey Guenier, 11, who explained he wants to be a journalist so his challenge was to get an article published.

The families are already ticking challenges off their list including geocaching and waving a cruise ship off, and can't believe how much fun they are having.

Robert Hurley, 10, who is a scout and goes to Swanmore Primary School, explains: “It’s great to play around in all the open space. Most children don’t go outside to play, they stay indoors spending a lot of time on gadgets but it feels good completing a challenge and doing something different.”

The neighbours, who are both most dreading their challenge to go an entire week completely without gadgets, hope the challenges will teach their children, and themselves vital skills.

Louise Hurley, said: “We’re learning just as much as the kids. Before the telly was always on, but this is about going out and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone doing things we’d never normally do and making memories.”

And for the families, their ultimate challenge would be to encourage more people to get involved and embrace the ‘Challenge 50’ concept.

Eight-year-old Joe Guenier, added: “Everyone should do it. I can’t wait to spend more time with my family having lots of fun doing challenges together.”

The Hurley family's challenges include:

Swim in the sea in winter

Walk from Bishops Waltham to Winchester

Grow and eat a new vegetable

Make a gingerbread house

Host a charity event

Make marmalade

The Guernier family's challenges include:

Walk to a tidal island

Build a bush camp and sleep in it

Win a medal each

Order a meal in a foreign language

Cook a foraged meal over a campfire

Build a Lego tower as high as the ceiling

Comments (2)

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9:10am Wed 5 Feb 14

cguenier says...

Thank you very much for publishing this article, we think that it is brilliant. We can now tick off this challenge from our list - and as a family we give it a 10 out of 10.

I now want to be a journalist even more. Thank you Tara.

love from Harvey Guenier
Thank you very much for publishing this article, we think that it is brilliant. We can now tick off this challenge from our list - and as a family we give it a 10 out of 10. I now want to be a journalist even more. Thank you Tara. love from Harvey Guenier cguenier

2:29pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Tara Russell says...

Thank you Harvey, I've just seen your comment. You'll make a fantastic journalist. It was lovely meeting you all and good luck with the rest of your challenges. Keep me posted! Tara
Thank you Harvey, I've just seen your comment. You'll make a fantastic journalist. It was lovely meeting you all and good luck with the rest of your challenges. Keep me posted! Tara Tara Russell

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