What People Say

From national leaders in the field of summer camps:

from Martin Hudson - Until recently Chair of BAHA and a Director of PGL

As Chair of the British Activity Holiday Association, I cannot comment on the holidays run by Colony Holidays or ATE, as they have never been members of our association. However, both PGL (the market leading company of which I am a director) and many other BAHA members, would completely endorse, from their own long experience of running successful residential summer camps, the many and important benefits offered by the experience to youngsters from all backgrounds. Like Chris Green, I feel that increased participation levels would introduce more youngsters to physical, social and psychological challenges, that are all part of growing up, in a framework of fun, friendship and safety. I also welcome the government including a residential session in their National Citizenship programme for 16 year-olds, but feel that many children would also benefit from the experience at a much younger age.

from Randall Williams - Ex Chairman of the English Outdoor Council

There is now crystal clear evidence in support of summer camps and other residential experiences for young people. Tackling challenging activities in a residential context has a powerful developmental impact. At an individual level, there is often a real boost to self-confidence from succeeding in something that is difficult and from learning to live and work with others in a community in a positive and responsible way. At societal level, there are benefits in terms of the health and obesity agenda, tackling anti-social behaviour and disengagement, and in helping young people to learn to manage risk and welcome challenge. The English Outdoor Council is right behind this campaign.

from Bertie Everard - A member of many national advisory committees on youth

From my own experience in working with young people in the context of a number of youth charities, I completely agree with you that there would be real benefits to our society if we could increase the numbers taking part in residential summer camps of all kinds. The YMCA in particular has a long tradition of running such camps, both on a daily basis and residential, and these have proved very popular over the years. The claims made for summer camps can be verified through much experience and it is good to see that the government is mounting an initiative for 16 year olds which through its residentials has the potential to support the campaign.

from Caroline White - Chief Executive of the Youth Hostels Association England and Wales

YHA has delivered Do It 4 Real summer camps to 65,000 young people with government funding over the last seven years. Young people learned to work together with others from different backgrounds. They gained self confidence and independence from taking part. Camps are a real contribution to the Government's plan for a big society and, for 11 - 16 year olds, a great introduction to the national citizen service. We completely agree with Chris Green's view that society will gain enormously if many more youngsters take part in summer camps, and we support his campaign to make this happen.

From Amy Lalla - Let Me Play Ltd

Through our camps at Let Me Play, we have seen significant evidence of the benefits of Residential Camps for young people. The framework of a residential camp allows for young people to experience the many varied benefits of being away from home, being immersed in a new environment and being focussed on positive activity. The experience of Summer Camps helps to move young people forward; away from anti-social behaviour in some cases to raise self-esteem, confidence and focus in most. We support Chris Green's campaign to raise awareness and participation in summer camps, the benefits to us are very clear.

From Simon Barker - director of Scripture Union Summer Camps, and Chair of Christian Camps International

Summer holidays are a life transforming experience for those children and young people who experience them. I say this from first-hand experience as someone who came to faith as a teenager on a Scripture Union holiday and who has spent the past twenty five years working in the faith sector, leading camps and holidays both through church and with Scripture Union. Children of all backgrounds have benefited from the unique close knit atmosphere of camps and other residentials, away from the pressures and norms of their daily lives.

Through my role as Chair of the Board of CCI it has been a privilege to see and hear of the impact such events have had on the lives of the thousands who attend a Christian summer camp or outdoor centre each year and so I wholeheartedly commend the value of the residential summer camp.

From Members of Parliament:

from David Burrowes - MP

I have personal experience of leading summer camps, and am very supportive of the current campaign to encourage more young people to take part in such sessions. They offer a great week's holiday with lots of fun activities, also the opportunity to meet others from all parts of the country, to make new friends, and to increase self-confidence and social skills.

from the Rt. Hon. David Blunkett - ex-Secretary of State for Education and ex-Home Secretary

I am proud of the initiative undertaken by the previous government to enable more youngsters, from all backgrounds, to enjoy the benefits of residential summer camps. I know from first-hand experience that these camps offer something unique to young people, and we would all benefit if many more youngsters took part. I would therefore like to see many more children have the opportunity to attend summer camps across Britain, and I warmly support this campaign.

From Teachers:

from Lynn Evans - Headteacher of Abbey Park Middle School, Worcestershire

I would wholeheartedly support your campaign Chris. Children from this school, many from poorer homes, have taken part in ATE summer camps over a number of years enabling them to spend a week away from home in a totally different environment. They are able to 'be children' and enjoy the benefits of mixing with a diverse range of people in a variety of centres and experience a huge variety of activities. For many, this was their first holiday ever, and the benefits for them and their families are invaluable. The skills of socialisation underpin all they achieve and this can only add value to their future lives. Long may this type of opportunity be available.after all, isn't it standard procedure to attend 'summer school' in the USA? Children in the UK deserve at least the same.or better!

from Lucy Purkis - Newly Qualified Teacher

I am a Year 3 Teacher at a junior school in a deprived area of Havant in Hampshire. I trained as a Summer Camp Monitor in 2006, and have not looked back.

I am now coming to the end of my first year of teaching, which has been a rollercoaster, but with the ideas and knowledge I gained from Summer Camps I have survived and done well. It has been commented by my headteacher how much fun my class has had.

Summer Camps are the best place to let children be children and adults be children.

From young people who have experienced ATE training and holidays:

from Steve Bentham - Special Needs Teacher

I have been involved in Summer Camps for ten years, seven of them with ATE. The training I have received has played a most significant role in my own personal and professional development as a teacher of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. It is easy to fear for children today and the world they are growing up in, but children have not changed, only the things around them. When I run a holiday and see the children disembarking from the coach I get so excited for them. Some have no idea about the fun, adventure, peace and community they are about to experience, for others it is a return to those wonderful things they are so excited about - and all without a battery, plug or LED flashing light in sight. Who would have thought a child could be so enthralled for a week with games, songs and simple activities? It's amazing. I just wish everyone could experience it, and remember it later in adult life.

from Robert Collier - Student

I first discovered ATE when completing my Duke of Edinburgh gold award. After completing the 2009 training course I realised I had just made friends who shared a passion for working with children, who were fun, creative, responsible and resilient. Since then, I have met hundreds more people, similarly committed to providing safe environments solely for the purpose of letting children have fun. It couldn't get more pure than that. ATE has completely changed my perception of what job I want, and where I want to go, and for this reason I am immeasurably indebted to it as an organisation.

Superweeks at ATE are not something to dismiss. To see a child grow in a week, and leave brimming with self confidence, full of songs and games to teach their friends at homes, with promises of continued contact with the new friends they have made on superweeks is possibly one of the most powerful images I have ever experienced. The bubble environment, away from all of modern society's trials and imperfections means that all children have to worry about is being children; to me, this is the aspect of ATE that is most beneficial, and is the crux of the entire idea.

Thank You ATE.

from Chloe Davies-Upright - Person Centred Planning Coordinator, South Wales Social Services

When I was 18 a new friend told me about these amazing children's holidays she was involved in and suggested that I get involved. "Why not? sounds like fun!" I had little idea then how profoundly that decision would change my life and shape the person I am today. It was very clear to me when I started my monitor training in the summer of 1994 that I was embarking on a most wonderous adventure! This was the first opportunity in my life where I could be ME and where I felt accepted and loved for who I am. If I could have that feeling after a few days of training, how amazing it must be for children to come away from home and make new friends and feel accepted! I soon saw it in action with my first group of 10 girls. I was their big sister for a week! we had so much fun and even though I am terrified of spiders I made up a story about Colin the Spider who was living in one of the cupboards of our Dorm! Colin was writing his memoirs and needed quiet at bedtime! This worked a treat but taught me that when faced with a potentially scary situation I could keep my cool! Fast forward to 2010 and I have been a director for a whole decade! I am a mum to a four year old who has been coming on superweeks since I was 8 months pregnant! I know the value and importance of summer camps because it has been an integral part of my adult life and I have seen countless numbers of children thrive and grow in confidence and self-esteem in the space of a week. A lot can happen in a week. A week in the summer spent with new friends, learning new skills, games and songs is a gift that will stay with a child forever. A gift that says "you are accepted"; a gift that says "let's be friends"; a gift that says "you can achieve great things!". Every child deserves to have these things and summer camps are the best way of offering them to as many children as possible.

from Helen Fairest - Mother and Forest Schools Leader

I have eighteen years' worth of experience working on summer camps, and have been privileged to take part in over forty camps. My camp work has often been on a voluntary basis, and friends and family regularly ask what keeps me coming back, as the work can be hard and often challenging.

I could go on and on for hours about the many benefits I have seen children, young people and their families gain from summer camps, but in a nutshell I do not think there is any better experience you can give a child or young person than to broaden their horizons, then give them a boost in confidence to go and explore lots of new opportunities which they can now see for themselves.

from Debbie Greenwood - College Lecturer

I started going to summer camps aged just 8 years old and now aged 30 I hate to think how different my life would be if I had not had been part of something so special. Summer camps are not just about having a good time; there are about experiences, making new friends (for life), social development and education. My time spent as a child on summer camps and now running summer camps has sculpted and influenced my life so much. Through the friendships and connections made I have found the confidence to return to university as a mature student and become a teacher. Everything I have done on a summer camp has a special place in my heart and memory and my closest friends are those I met 20 years ago at camp. By continuing to be involved with running camps I want to pass on those experiences to a new generation so that they have their own memories to take with them into adulthood.

from Emma Stevenson - Student

As a Monitor working on Summer Camps .... well, I don't even know where to start. There is toooo much to say.

Summer Camps are simply AMAZINNGGG. Being at university throughout the school year, Summer Camps give you the chance to be with people who will make you laugh and smile no matter what, and people who care for you, plus enjoying all the activities you can ever think of. Summer Camps provide what can only be described as the BEST WEEK OF EACH YEAR.

from Rose Ware - Student

I first went to A.T.E at the age of 9 and continued through until I was 16! The summer camp/holidays were some of the best times of my life, I had so much fun and met great people that I am still in contact with now! I loved it so much I went on to become a monitor and now love working with lots of lovely children and having lots of fun! I would recommend it to anyone!

from Dr. Jim Sutherland - GP, near Sheffield

All of my four children have benefited hugely in enjoyment and development from attending summer camps.
I think any away from home residential experience is likely to be helpful, but the particular ethos behind ATE is especially beneficial in our modern hi-tech world where interpersonal skill development may be lacking in young people's lives.
As a GP I have found it particularly helpful when subsidised places were offered to some of my most needy families.
I sincerely wish that more children could be exposed to such a potentially life-changing experience.

from Sarah Edwards - Research Postgraduate, University of Leeds

I first experienced the magic (and magic is the only way to describe it) of working as leader on a summer camp six years ago. Still today a letter arriving to tell me the dates of my next holiday makes me feel both cosily warm and excited. I cannot emphasise enough that summer camps benefit EVERYONE. I have witnessed amazing transformations of children from caterpillars to butterflies, all within a week. I give it my highest recommendation, and shout about it whenever I can.

From people who experienced Colony Holidays training and holidays:

from Kit Aldridge - Retired Teacher and Local Government Officer

In 1966, during my second year at Teacher Training College I attended a Colony Holidays Course to work as a summer camp monitor. I returned from that bursting with excitement, and couldn't wait to work in a camp. For the next six years, I worked in camps all over Britain. The huge benefits were two-way - seeing children who were tearfully leaving parents for the first time very quickly develop into confident, happy individuals, learning loads of new skills, bursting with ideas, making lots of friends and becoming well-rounded persons interacting with peers and adults and yes, even sad to be leaving to go home at the end, or children coming back because their previous camp experiences had all been so good that they wanted more. For me, the broadening of my repertoire through so many different experiences helped enormously in both my work as a teacher and in my everyday life.

from Sheila Booth - Retired Teacher

While training as a teacher in the early 1970s I attended a Colony Holidays training course to work with children. I was deeply impressed with the training in many aspects of child care, and with the variety of activities I learned. I worked with CCHS, as Monitor, Assistant Director and Director, for twenty years, and was always excited to see how well children behaved, how enthusiastic they were, and how they all managed to fit in and become part of one secure unit. My work in summer camps was one of the most satisfying things I ever did. It did much to help me enjoy a very rewarding 23 years as a teacher. I am sure the children I saw in summer camps will now be looking back and thinking of their experiences not only as fond memories but also as a positive factor in their own development, especially in relating to others from all different backgrounds.

from Dr Steve Killick - Clinical Psychologist, South Wales

As someone who worked as a group leader with Colony Holiday and now as Child Clinical Psychologist it is clear to me the great benefits these holidays can have on children. They have the chance to play, creatively and co-operatively, and to be part of a group where they feel important, safe and cared for. In this age these benefits may not seem to be important but they are, in fact, vital ingredients of social confidence and emotional well-being. These factors are important in their own right but also are important for learning both academically and socially. A holiday experience like Colony Holidays or ATE can be a life changing experience for children that changes how they see themselves.

from Sir Bruce Liddington - Formerly Director General of E-ACT, and DCSF Schools Commissioner

My ten years of working with Colony Holidays were of very great value to me in my career as teacher and head. I know that there is nothing better for youngsters of all ages than to go on a summer camp. They learn to get on with others, they have adventures, they learn new things, and they do things they will remember for the rest of their lives. I support Chris Green's campaign without reservation.

from Caroline Struthers - Project Manager, Alois Community Volunteer Project, Oxford University, John Radcliffe Hospital

I went on a Colony Holiday every year from age 8 to age 16. I can honestly say that, looking back, these holidays were both great fun and incredibly helpful in my development - particularly in confidence, independence and tolerance. I also remember (how could I forget them) the mad but brilliant Wide Games. I am glad the wonderful concept has been resurrected with ATE, and I am booking my 11 year-old in this summer.

from Laura Barback - a nurse living in the USA

Altogether my brother and sister and I attended Colony Holidays for four years in the sixties and seventies. We usually went separately. I remember them as some of the happiest times of my childhood. They were truly an adventure . the excitement of boarding a train alone and going off into the unknown yet knowing I was safe. The unwrapping of the lunch Mum had packed and eating my dessert first, no longer under the watchful eye of a parent . What bliss ! Friendships were made on the journey and continued to grow during the holiday. So different from the return journey when I cried from the moment I boarded the train until I parted from the last of my new friends at a station in London. I am eternally grateful my parents found the money to send us. All three of us benefitted so much from the experience, and departed "richer" than when we arrived. Thank you for such a wonderful contribution to my childhood.

from Joanne Stone - working with adults with learning difficulties, Hertfordshire

I particularly remember the singing. We still sing the songs now, forty years later, and we remember all the words. My brother, my sister and I had such good times that have stayed with us ever since. The experience of mixing with other children with completely different backgrounds and having such fun things to do was life-changing and thoroughly exciting. I support this campaign completely.

from David Kibert - retired teacher, Leicester

Even some 40 years on I still recall the thrill of working with children on Colony Holidays. They gave young leaders and children alike some responsibility, improved self-esteem, and a sense of being part of education at its applied creative best - seasoned with a lot of fun.

from David Staniforth - Sheffield

I was a group leader with Colony Holidays thirty plus years ago. I loved the holidays as much as the children did, and the saddest part was always saying goodbye at the end. The training I received helped me in other work with children I have done since. I have many fond memories of Colony Holidays and all the lovely people who were involved.

from Jeremy Morfey - Worcestershire

I attended summer camps with Colony Holidays between 1969 and 1972. The main benefits were in developing teamwork, friendship and confidence with others - something I lacked then, and something even more important now for a generation shut away with their computers. A consequence of recent tighter safeguarding procedures has been to deny youngsters benign contact with adult culture. Any opportunity to redress this is vital and should be a top priority. It should be a key part of developing the Big Society.

from Gill Wickenden - GP

I trained as a summer camp monitor in 1980, following the example of my sister a year or so ahead of me. It was one of the happiest weeks of my life, and I have had many. I made friends there who I will never forget. I have now been a GP for many years, also a busy parent. My sister is a doctor of Anthropology, previously a Speech Therapist specialising in children with disabilities. We both think that our experience of Colony Holidays was profoundly influential on later life choices and attitudes. I want my own children to have the same experience, and am an ardent supporter of your Campaign.

from Jo Manley - Director of Community Health Services, London

Colony Holidays are one of my best childhood memories. I went to four in all, and each one was amazing. They were simply THE BEST. I remember my parents saying I didn't stop talking for three hours after my first holiday. At the one I did aged 13, a few months after my father suddenly died, I had the most brilliant monitor who got it just right and let me escape from my sadness, at the same time as being there if I needed him. Thank you so much for Colony Holidays, which were truly the making of me.

from Dean Leach - Ocean Exploration Scientist

Colony Holidays helped me tremendously when I was young. I lost my mother due to illness when I was six, and was placed in a children's home at the age of eight. It was a difficult and terrible time both emotionally and physically. My young self spent every day in despair thinking that this was all there was, and I would never be free and never experience a 'nice life.'

In 1981 my social worker found me a place in a Colony Holiday on the Isle of Wight, with a whole bunch of children from around the country. It all began on the train down, with stuffy authority types replaced by young, enthusiastic and happy supervisors, and meeting the other children, all as excited as myself. The next ten days gave us all the time of our lives, with freedom of expression, fun by the bucketload, and the learning of many new skills - not just craft making and storytelling, but also social interaction, teamwork, and even empathy for others. Every member of the young staff was truly amazing and inspiring, and gave us all the confidence to grow. I am now a father of four children. They have a comfortable lifestyle, but I would give anything for them to have that truly exceptional experience as I did.

And what happened to the little boy from the children's home?

He joined the fire service for quite a few years, before going to university and graduating with honours. He is currently an Ocean Exploration Scientist, who travels the world working on many projects, mainly environmentally friendly, and is also involved in charity work.

Colony Holidays helped shape that young lad's future by giving hope, love, fun and confidence. Every child in the country should have the same chance.

Kerstin Green - Mother and Nursery School Head

As an avid 'colonist' through most of my childhood, I cannot say enough about what colony holidays did for, and meant to me. As a child of a grizzly divorce situation at home, having lost my three older brothers to a messy and jarring custody battle, I found myself age six, as youngest of 4 children, suddenly an only child in a single parent household. God only knows how confused and muddled this left me, but thankfully for me, my mother recognized my need for fun and social distraction. She found colony holidays when I was 8, 18 months after the dust had settled around us, and I left for what was to be my first colony holiday experience.

The first one was at Linden Manor, and the monitors who were indeed deeply caring and empathetic individuals, ensured two weeks of 'forgetting'. I made friends, I coped with being away from home, I got gluey, muddy, tired, wet, mosquito bitten...in short, everything a young child needs then and now, for a successful and exciting time. To this day I still teach my 5 children and their friends the silly songs we learned.

I treasure the memories from those 5 summers, and I know that because of the careful and thorough preparation that went into planning these camps, and the training that all the staff members had been through, that we were always safe and nurtured. My life has been shaped by these memories, I am now owner and director of a nursery school, and I credit much of the caring and love I feel for the children in my care to the empathy I enjoyed at the hands of the many people who were responsible for me over the years at Colony Holidays.

Dr. Alan Brichta - Associate Professor of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Newcastle, Australia

I attended my first colony holiday as a shy, awkward child of 9 in the late sixties, and did several more over the next few years. They were fantastic experiences, and I'll never forget the sense of adventure, fun and camaraderie. The locations were great, and the gentle way in which children were encouraged to express themselves through group activities and presentations (plays or interpretations of poetry or music) or simply whittling pieces of balsa wood into pontoons for a toy catamaran during craft sessions left a lasting impression and was truly empowering and confidence building. Looking back, and not realising at the time, I agree wholeheartedly that children exposed to 'a week or so a year living in a rural setting with others from all backgrounds' and to 'a varied programme of active and creative children's leisure activities' become better future citizens with an appreciation of others. If it is not too self-indulgent I'd like to say I am a proud product of this wonderful social enlightenment.

Lucy Windsor - IT/Communications Worker, Author of "People are not widgets."

I was lucky enough to experience the magic of a Colony Holiday as an eight year-old, and I returned many times until I was fourteen. Those weeks were the highlight of my year. I remember the diversity of kids, our monitor reading to us every night by torchlight, tons of games, and of course the singing. For me it was kid heaven, full of surprises, warmth and nurture, laughter and joy. Colony Holidays taught me what childhood should be like.