As APF Activity Camps ran a Multi-Activity Camp first the first time at The Grange School, we decided to devise a case study to determine how well the camp was being delivered. Given that we are a reflective camp provider and always looking to improve our provision, this case study allowed us to identify strengths and areas for development in the lead-up to the Easter HAF camp.
Demographic and attendance
The Grange School is situated in an area of Aylesbury with a significant number of disadvantaged children. The percentage of children classified as having Specific Educational Needs (SEND) and Social, Emotional and Mental Health concerns (SEMH) is significantly greater than the national average - as is the percentage of children classified as benefits-related Free School Meals (BRFSM).
We ran a 6-day camp at the Grange School for children aged 4-14, over the Christmas period (21st, 22nd,23rd, December and 28th, 29th, 30th December 2022). A total of 162 HAF places were attended at this location, across all delivery days (out of a possible 180 possible places available), giving a 90% attendance rate. 42 primary aged children attended and 31 of these were entitled to BRFSM. 15 Secondary aged children attended and 10 of these were entitled to BRFSM. In total, we had 13 children attend camp who were classified as having Specific Educational Needs (SEND), which was 22% of the cohort.
Activities on offer
The Multi-Activity programme fitted into four main areas and timetabling allowed children to experience at least one activity from each these per day
· Extreme activities such Outdoor Survival tasks, Archery, Sumo Suits, Splat Ball (modified paint ball) & our Giant Bouncy Castle offered risk taking and character development and a better understanding of how to keep safe.
· Traditional and non-traditional sports activities (such as badminton and rounders) were offered to improve and enhance skill development and resilience among learners.
· Physical activity sessions (such as dance, and exercise circuits) allowed students to gain a better understanding of keeping physically healthy. These bespoke programmes increased opportunities for teamwork and therefore building friendships and allowed students to feel included.
· Arts and crafts activities (such as, clay modelling, painting and drawing) were delivered by coaches to naturally embed a ‘therapeutic’ approach to developing and improving emotional wellbeing (including reducing stress levels and anxiety).
Also included on the programme, were informal learning opportunities relating to food and healthy lifestyles. To support the delivery of such activities, each child was given a student booklet CLICK HERE TO VIEW on their first day. This gave us plenty of opportunity to allow children to reflect on their experiences at camp and further enhance their development of key skills as they were encouraged to write these down during practical tasks. It also allowed us to signpost parents to key information such as the family information service, food banks and crises support from the local council. Furthermore, it gave parents a sense of involvement as they are able to see the types of activities their children were participating in each day.
Support for Children with SEND
Given that 20% of cohort had Specific Educational Needs, a key priority was to ensure we gave individual and concentrated attention to each child whilst working within a group environment. This meant that we were able to make each child feel included and part of a team. Further to this, it meant that we were able to meet the needs of our most vulnerable SEND children, including those with Autism or Attention, Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). In speaking to one parent at camp, she mentioned the following ‘’My son has Autism and ADHD so was very nervous. He quickly made friends and enjoyed the activities. Staff were friendly and adaptable to my son’s needs’’. In addition to this, when observing the quality of provision for SEND children at camp, it was clear that such childrens’ needs were being catered for, due to the meticulous planning by the staff and how effectively they used the knowledge of Educational Health Care Plans (EHCPs) to personalise the camp experience for SEND children.
For quality assurance, the Director of APF (K James) regularly interviewed parents, children and
Parents and coaches, who reported a significant positive impact; including improved self-esteem from their children and the learning of new skills. Most parents that we interviewed, who had not previously visited the camp, reported feeling comfortable and welcome in the surroundings. They embraced the sense of community, taking the opportunity explore the avail of walkways and seating placed throughout the grounds during the ‘stay and view; activity sessions at the end of the camp experience. One child who hadn't previously enjoyed sports stated he'd, “like to stay for two weeks” and, amongst many messages from parents, one Mum saying, “so good to see our beautiful boy being facilitated to participate in something most families take for granted. It gave us all a great boost to be included.”
We asked all students that attended the camp to complete a survey to allow us to identify strengths and areas for development. The results showed that: