I’ve spoken before about how great I found the family-owned Barracudas Activity Day Camps, and how much fun the girls had when they attended one earlier this year. But don’t just listen to me – I’ve asked Mike, manager of the Hutton camp, to tell us more about what what makes this one of the UK’s most popular school holiday camps.
Why should someone choose Barracudas holiday camp for their child?
For the variety of activities, the range of ages we get involved and the experience/qualifications of our staff. All staff are trained to run activities safely and maximising the fun aspect of all sessions, while building skills.
We are more than an activity camp; we teach thorough sessions, the children build life skills and confidence and, most importantly, they want to come back!
What kind of activities can they expect to do?
Everything from all ball games to arts and crafts, swimming to motor sports, archery to fencing, world games to team building and problem solving. The activities are always varied, interesting and new ones are introduced each year.
Is the camp suitable for children with all kinds of interests?
The camps suit all kinds of kid, and there are always at least two activity options. Each child is catered for and the more we get to know them, the better the experience comes.
Group leaders typically spend all week with their group, so they really get to know their personal interests. They can then adapt just about everything to ensure everyone is involved and enjoying themselves.
What happens when children first arrive?
First up they register with the blue shirts at our registration table. An information board is available with camp contacts and all the information for that day (also available when booking online) so you can see at a glance what’s on offer that day.
A completed ‘Essential Information’ form is handed over to the camp blue shirts so we have all the info we might need about your child. Once we’ve signed them in and given them a name badge, a runner will drop them right to their group.
When they get to the group, they’ll meet their keyworker and the rest of the children – then the fun begins!
If a child attends on their own, is it easy for them to meet people and make new friends?
Very much so; team building games happen throughout registration and the day, so they’re always working together and getting to know other children. Each child also has a name badge so staff and other children can call them by name, making sure they feel welcome and included.
If a child is particularly nervous do you have ways to help them feel at ease?
The group keyworker can come up to registration to meet the child before they leave their parent. They can chat, share some jokes and talk about what is about to come in the following day.
Once the child is at ease, the group keyworker can take them around to their group and introduce them to the others – chances are they’ll see some familiar faces. Some kids also like to buddy up (especially in the younger groups) so they have someone they get to know very well, very quickly.
Where do the camp workers generally come from?
Most are from universities, but some are teachers. Early year coordinators and blue shirts tend to be teachers. I’m a head of maths who’s been working as a Barracudas manager for about 12 years now. I keep coming back for the same reason – I get to meet new people, make new friends and see the children develop and grow. I’ve even got past camp children working for me now.
What are some of the most popular activities?
Where I’m based, it’s swimming, motor sports, capture the flag, fencing, arts and crafts and dodgeball. The younger groups also love a bit of panic pin, parachute games, dance and drama and the bouncy castle!
What kind of skills do children learn from attending Barracudas?
They learn such a wide variety of skills from fine motor skills, catching, throwing, kicking, aiming. They develope emotional intelligence – due to the range of children they meet – confidence and team building. They also learn and talk a lot about game strategy, so they can better their chances of winning.
Do you see their confidence grow over the days and weeks?
Yes! They change completely from the first time I see them on registration. They start to high five you as walk around, shout your name, tell you jokes or wave you over to come over and say hello. Seeing the children develop is one of the best parts of camp – whether it be over a few days, or several years.
Do you get a lot of kids coming back, over and over again?
YES! It has got to the point now where I know 90% by name, and often their parents names too. Once they come and see Hutton, they will often rebook on the day. Many people comment that – aside from all the great activities – they’re really impressed by the security procedures around camp, and all safety precautions we have in place.
What do other parents tell you they like the most about Barracudas?
They like that we are fun, the children come home smiling, that the children want to share what they have been doing. They also like that camp is very flexible in terms of drop off and pick up, but also that they can come and talk to us about anything.
Some children go through a hard time through school; being able to talk to someone in a different setting and seeing a different side of the child can be very emotional. We keep a fun, positive and inclusive atmosphere at all times, staff are kept in high spirits with the senior team leading the way.
Parents have often commented on how the staff at the Hutton camp are all friends, which allows the children a chance to feel part of the family rather than just a care provider.