It was emotional to see this boy who had never tried anything like this in his life throw himself off the highest platform and afterwards being so proud of himself
Hilltop summer 2019 part 2
The charity’s manager Nicky Kandola joined the 44 children on their adventure at a free holiday with Leicester Children’s Holidays. This is part 2 of her blog.
For the amazing and challenging activities at Hilltop Outdoor Centre, overseen by the trained staff and assisted by our team, the children were split into four groups of 11. It was the day after they had arrived and the children had quickly made friends and were already chattering away.
One group tried the crates task and it turned out to be an excellent activity to help them learn to communicate and work together. They had to use crates and build them up and climb on them up to a certain height where they could eventually reach up and ring a bell. They were in harnesses but many of them were scared because they did go very high. One of the best parts was that the children who had finished the task were allowed to then push the giant crate tower over.
They tried archery and enjoying riding push bikes around the site. A couple had never ridden a bicycle so were taught the basics and were soon pedalling away. Learning bush crafts was a popular activity and the children had to find kindling in the wood, build a fire and keep it going. They boiled water on the fire for hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows. Building shelters in the wood was a great chance to learn survival and life skills. They went on the big zipper, holding on tight and flying down a wire. The tree top trail was difficult, especially when the children tried the higher routes. They were challenging themselves, as they did with climbing and abseiling.
The air jump is a massive plunge on to a giant cushion from six platform heights. One boy wanted to try from Platform 10 and the rules were that you had to be aged 10 to tackle it. “How old are you” we asked him. “I’m 10 tomorrow!” he replied. The Hilltop staff let him try it because they said they had never seen anyone so proficient and he was described as “exceptional” at the task. Of course, he succeeded and followed the instructions carefully on how to land properly. We got a bit emotional to see this boy, who had never tried anything like this in his life, throw himself off the highest platform and afterwards being so proud of himself
There was rock pooling, a disco, a games room, a trip to the tuck shop to buy souvenirs for their families as well as a quiet room where they could draw, read or write. They were certainly kept busy and there was no time to get bored.
We went into Sheringham to the ice cream parlour to spend the money that Leicester’s Lord Mayor Councillor Annette Byrne gave them. They had difficulties choosing from 40 flavours!
There were two activities that turned out to be favourites for the children at Hilltop. One was the tree top trail and the other was going to the beach.
At least eight of the youngsters had never seen the sea, many more had not been in it. I remember we became concerned about the children who wanted to paddle in the water. Would they get too cold? In the end it was fine. It was a sunny day and they were quickly back at base to change. I can never forget their excited shrieks as the tide came in and they jumped the waves. It was like a rite of passage to get soaked and reminded us all of our original base at Mablethorpe at the seaside.
On our return to Leicester by coach, the children were excited to see their families again and we were swamped with parents and carers saying thank you.
In summer 2020 we aim to take 80 children over two separate weeks. Bring it on!