Here are a few thoughts about children at camp, about what we ask of you as parents and what we ask of the children.
Firstly, in our experience children almost invariably have a great time and forcibly drag their parents back year after year. This is partly facilitated by our fourteen member children’s team who are a very dedicated and creative bunch of people. It is also to do with the whole ethos of the camp, which is to fully include children and place them at the heart of the camp. And the site itself is a wonderful natural adventure playground.
We expect about 35-40 children from across the age range at each camp. All children aged three and above are offered two sessions of facilitated activity every day coinciding with the main singing sessions. These run from 10-11.30 in the morning and 4.30-6 in the evening. We ask that as parents you drop them off and pick them up as promptly as possible. If the weather is hot please also make sure they have sun protection and are hydrated before coming.
Children are welcome to join with all the singing sessions (they often do) and whether or not they come to the children’s activities is, of course, optional. There is a clear boundary to the site which you will get to see on the first day and we ask that no child leaves the site without parental consent.
Coming with a very young child to the camp can be challenging especially if you are a single parent. It can also be utterly delightful. As children’s activities only begin once your child is three years old, you may find it is not always possible to attend the singing sessions. In many sessions we are happy for babies and toddlers to come with their parents but if your child is unsettled you will need to remove them as this can disrupt everyone else’s enjoyment and create stress for the teacher. If you are a parent of an under three and new to camps or camping it is worth giving us a call before you book.
Children also belong to the small groups which form part of the structure of camp life, helping out alongside adults with cooking and maintenance, tending the fire and chopping wood. In this way children are fully integrated into the community and both adults and children benefit from children’s active contribution to camp life. We aim to create an experience of healthy, vibrant community for everyone and we especially honour the place children hold in this.
We strongly invite children from the age of seven to work alongside adults in these groups. In our experience it can deeply heighten the feeling of belonging and contributing which (although there might be a bit of resistance at first!) ultimately really serves the children. There are many levels at which this is a great opportunity for the children. In particular, when children are involved in preparing the food they are learning new skills, perhaps being tempted to become more adventurous in their eating and it gives children a great feeling of ownership and empowerment (cooking a meal for 100 people in the middle of a field is no mean achievement!)
Food at camp
Our larder is abundant and there are foods for every palate. However, we do not distinguish between adult and child food. For all main meals we make sure there are some additional finger foods items available for children and plain foods e.g. pasta without sauce and occasional “extras” such as grated cheese. Fresh fruit, bread, crackers and spreads are available throughout the day and the children’s team often provide additional snacks during sessions.
We have very few camp ‘rules’ other than those which relate to safety and basic consideration for others. However, one area worth mentioning is our daily “pow-wow”. This is a meeting of the whole camp to which all adults and children are invited. We sit in circle for this, in the big yurt with a wide open space in the middle. This space in the middle is a massive temptation for any child to leap in to and run around wildly. Please restrain your children from doing this so that we can all hear each other. And if you have a young one who is upset or disruptive please simply take them outside for a while until they have settled down.
A second area worth mentioning is the kitchen. Here you will find a constant supply of bread, crackers, spreads and fruit. Please support your child to develop responsible habits e.g. putting lids back on jars, not dipping fingers into food containers (scoops/spoons are provided) and cleaning up after themselves.
I think that’s it. If you have any more questions about children at camp please call Felicity on 07973 228870 or any questions about food on camp please call Cat on 07483 837716.