Giving kids a break

Derby Telegraph feature: More kids than ever enjoy week of activities and giggles at camp

Date: 29.08.2011


BOUNCING merrily on his space hopper in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside, identical twin Grant Winder revealed his favourite thing about his holiday – no television.
Instead, the 10-year-old was loving being outdoors with his brother, Jamie, sister Angel, nine, and the rest of the 60 youngsters he was at summer camp with.

On this particular day, the children were spending some restful hours at camp. In the previous days, they had been to Chatsworth House, Wetton Mill and Thor's Cave. In the days ahead, they were scheduled to go swimming in Buxton, write postcards home and prepare for the camp's talent show.

It was another typical week-long holiday organised by charity Derby Kids' Camp, to give disadvantaged city youngsters a much-needed summer holiday.

Beaufort Community Primary School pupil Grant, of Chaddesden, said he was loving every minute of his time at the camp. He said: "It's so much fun and you get to do loads of different things like go swimming, go on a treasure hunt and watch magicians.
"I like being more active and not having a TV around because it's nice being outdoors. I've also made lots of new friends.
"I wish I was coming again. It's been an adventure and we all like adventure trips."

Twin Jamie agreed. He said: "I was excited when I knew I was coming because I was looking forward to seeing all the sheep and cows. I've made loads of friends."

And Angel was equally thrilled with the experience. She said: "I'm happy I'm here. I like that we make things."

Every morning, the three join the others for breakfast following a good night's sleep in their six-man tents.

If the youngsters are not heading out on a trip, then football, Swingball, tag rugby and plenty of other games, activities and crafts are on offer for them.
But, most days, the children find themselves out and about in the Peak District – either on a walking trip or being taken by minibus to a nearby attraction.
Entertainment is often on hand after dinner when they return, while the kitchen, toilets, showers, medical and welfare tents are always on site if needed.

Thirty volunteers are also on hand at all times to look after the children, who are nominated for the holidays by their schools. This can be for many reasons, including bereavement, financial difficulties and personal or family problems.

Another holiday-maker at the camp was Priya Lalria, of Sunnyhill. The 11-year-old, who came with her brother Jay, 10, has just finished at Gayton Community Junior School and will start at Derby Moor Community Sports College in September.
She said: "The camp is really cool. You can just be yourself and get involved with lots of activities.
"It's exciting going out to places like Chatsworth or we just chill out on the site, which is really nice, too. I was looking forward to coming."

Fellow camper Jessica Parton-Jones, 11, of Derby – who will move from Becket Primary School to Bemrose School this September – said she was delighted to come back after going on a Derby Kids' Camp holiday two years ago.
She said: "I enjoyed it last time but it was even better this time. There are more people and better weather."

Gayton Junior School pupil Hrithik Nehan, nine, of Normanton, said: "We have lots of fun and they make you giggle and smile here. I like the fresh air, long walks and playing lots of games."

Earlier this year, Derby Kids' Camp announced its plans to expand – saying it would be able to take an extra 100 youngsters on summer and weekend holidays.
The 37-year-old charity, which has an annual budget of about £30,000, said the expansion had been made possible because of funding from two organisations in the past couple of years, totalling about £36,000.
It increased the number of children it takes on week-long holidays in the Peak District in July and August from 250 to 300. This meant about 60 children, instead of 50, were taken to camp each week.

The weekend breaks were previously held six to eight times throughout the year, with 10 to 12 children invited to stay near Leek each time.

Under the new plans, an extra 70 to 100 children are taken away for a weekend.

Volunteer Claire Perry said it was great to see the camp physically expand this year. She said: "You can see how the camp has literally stretched itself this summer, with everyone in big tents.
"We've also got another minibus so we've got enough room for all the kids. We have to put the camp up in three days but it's brilliant to see the change."

As Derby Kids' Camp is completely voluntary, those looking after the children during the summer do so in their own time.

Among them is cook Celina Jackson, of Loughborough, who normally works as a cleaner.
She said: "I've always liked cooking but this is the first time I've done it for so many people. But it's brilliant at the camp and it's so nice knowing you're doing something to help these youngsters."

Although the volunteers come from all walks of life, many of them are teachers who have the time to help in the summer holidays.
One of them is team leader Stephen Hickey, of Cheltenham, who works as a teacher in Stoke. He said: "There are more female than male volunteers working with the children so it means we play an important part as male role models."

Camp leader Sarah Murfin said: "I've been here for four years and you really do deal with all kinds of children but if just one child goes away having had a wonderful holiday, then you know you've made a difference."