Sefton Childrens Trust
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experiencing difficulties
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Sefton Childrens Trust Annual Residential Experience

At Manor Adventure

12th - 19th  August 2017

This report is to provide a brief overview and flavour of the children’s respite for family activity residential for children during the summer residential of 2017.  The residential offers a week of respite for the children and their families from the difficulties of their everyday lives and to have the opportunity to have experience positive role models by our fantastic volunteers We begin this year’s report by thanking each and every one of our supporters; it is due to your kindness that the Sefton Children’s Trust 2017 residential was able to take place.

The Sefton Children’s Trust team of volunteers worked passionately and tirelessly throughout 2016/ 2017 to raise the funds, but like many small charities, we had a very difficult year raising the amount necessary for this year’s residential.  The team also works hard to deliver on all the behind the scene planning, none of which could have been achieved without our kind supporters.  The effort was rewarded when on the 12th August, 66 Sefton children 14 adult volunteers, including 4 new ones departed on 2 coaches with their leaders from the prestigious setting of Bootle Town Hall, ready to enjoy 7 days of fun filled activities, friendships and memories that will last a life time!

Two hours later, the 2 coaches arrived at Manor Adventure, Craven Arms, Shropshire to be warmly welcomed by the Manor staff and a group of our own volunteers, who arrived the night before to prepare the clothes stores, bedrooms and tuck for the week.  The welcome committee really contributed to the setting of the scene for the week and help the children, including 26 first timers to the camp, feel at ease and excited for everything that was to come.

Each pair of leaders was allocated its group for the week. The children in each team are allocated all the same clothing, waterproofs and wellies as required.  We provide pumps for all the children throughout the week and the children were excited to receive their baseball caps, group clothes and team numbers, so the fun began. The children’s days were structured as follows, wake up from 7am, breakfast from 8am, then 1 x 90 minute activity, morning break, another activity, lunch followed by 2 more 90 minute activities (with a break in between), evening meal followed by the final activity session, with lights out aimed to be for approximately 9pm.  This works out at an average of 7.5 hours of physically challenging and mentally stimulating activity each day!  The challenging activities help the children to support each other through teamwork, planning, problem solving, fun and a huge amount of humour.  Arts and crafts sessions gave the groups the chance to focus on their more creative side and design souvenirs and keep sakes to take home to families and friends.  The fabulous heated outdoor swimming pool proved again to be one of the most popular activities on camp, seeing our children enjoying the freedom to ‘just have fun’ in a safe environment highlights the sheer joy that they have during this week.

During the week it is our dance/drama volunteer, Amy’s role to build the children’s confidence and trust by encouraging each of the 8 groups to learn and perform a dance in front of their peers, our volunteers and the staff of Manor Adventure at the end of camp show, she also has to do the same for our staff dance!  This year’s show was amazing, with all children in all of the groups taking part.  This is a huge achievement for those children and one that many of them may not have attempted on day one of the residential; helping to prove that with the correct support, structure, positive reinforcement and challenging activities the children of Sefton can perform beyond their wildest imaginations.  The final night was rounded off with a disco and firework display and numerous renditions our camp song – ‘The World’s Greatest’!

This year, Sefton Children’s Trust used a monitoring and evaluation activities questionnaire compiled in line with BBC Children in Need’s vision that every child in the UK has a safe, happy and secure childhood and the chance to reach their potential.  The results from this questionnaire will enable us to gain more meaningful feedback from our children, help us to get to know each child better, plan for future programmes and measure the impact of their experiences with us.  As part of this, each child individually completed a short pre camp and end of camp questionnaire, which was designed using smiling faces, colours and questions that help the children to think about themselves and their experiences. This was explained through the support of each group leader as part of a circle activity, where children were able to use colourful pens and get support in reading the questions where needed.

From the feedback we’ve had from the children, the top three areas they said they enjoyed most were swimming, activities involving heights and making new friends.  We feel that the statement of making new friends is a powerful one.   As you can imagine, sharing a week away with a group of people that you do not know can be very challenging, we like to think that we have introduced the children to an array of life skills, such as effective communication, patience, fairness, kindness, teamwork and problem solving.  These skills can be further developed once back in their own communities and schools.  

The main outcomes from the questionnaires

90% of children fed back that they rated their camp experience as great or very good

100% of the children said they had made new friends and most of children fed back that the best thing about camp was making new friends

86% of the children fed back they thought the camp food was good, 10% said it was good sometimes and only 2 children did not like the camp food at all

66% of the children stated that they ate more fruit and vegetables during their stay than they would usually have at home

94% of children fed back they did more exercises during their time on camp than they would usually do at home

86% stated that they had learned new things on the camp by having the opportunity to undertake new challenges

76% of children said they definitely want to come back next year, 2 children saying they did not want to go to camp next year and 19% circled ‘maybe’, owing to a variety of reasons including knowing they would be too old to come back, home sickness and being unsure if they would be able to come back due to instances of challenging behaviour whilst on the camp

76% of children fed back they wanted to find out about further activities they could get involved in as a result of their positive experience on the camp, which demonstrates the children have gained the confidence to explore new experiences at home

Other comments from the children:

My new friends have been the best to me

I just loved being here and having fun

Riding my bike (a brand new learner)

Learned to swim and overcame my fear of water

A great big thank you!!!

The final day took the form of children changing into their own clothes, packing up their sleeping bags, toilet bags, toiletries, cuddly toys (all provided by the charity) and their pieces of work from arts and crafts, eating breakfast together, one last version of the camp song before boarding the coaches.  Each child was presented with a personalised certificate that had been carefully written by each group leader, highlighting particular strengths and developments of the child during the week.  This personalised certificate of achievement is a special memento, which they can keep and feel proud of as it recognises the progress made during the residential. We provided age appropriate films and cartoons to keep the children entertained on the coaches, along with a healthy lunch, not even a traffic delay on our way back could dampen the spirits of the class of 2017!   

On Wednesday, we had our annual Open Day where local dignitaries and supporters of Sefton Children’s Trust are invited to see for themselves how their generous donations are spent.  We were very fortunate to have the Mayor and Mayoress of Sefton who arrived wearing their chains of office, which really impressed all our children. We at Sefton Children’s Trust do not take for granted that to travel to the Manor Adventure and spend the whole afternoon with us was a great deal of time out of their very busy schedule, but their visit will contribute to the children’s positive memories of the Camp 2017, especially as one child asked the Mayoress if she was the queen! A representative of one of regular donors, who has supported this small charity in a variety of way over the years, also joined us.  The Open Day made it a very special occasion for both the children and the volunteers and the children singing the camp song, which they did with great gusto, with all the correct movements, was very moving for everyone.