Landsdowne Terrace’s Winter Camp

Landsdowne Terrace’s Winter Camp

In the July school holidays - when the weather was particularly miserable and most people were shuttered up inside - a group of Landsdowne Terrace Playcentre families opted for something a little bolder, a trip together into the Canterbury foothills.

Casting the comforts of home aside, this hardy group were intent to explore the outdoors, take a break from city life and, just as importantly, strengthen their Playcentre community.

The idea was suggested by Colette Maier, who had been been on similar camps while a parent at a Hamilton centre. “Playcentre camp was a real highlight of our time in Hamilton,” she says. “Although it seemed a bit daunting at first, the boys had so much fun. There was always someone to help out and the shared meals made everything easy.”

Glenroy Lodge, a self-catering camp near Hororata, was soon chosen: its proximity to Christchurch, generous size (it sleeps 80), and wide range of activities making it the perfect site.

Here the children could make fires and roast marshmallows; ride the flying fox; toboggan down the grassy hills; go on expeditions to the nearby river; spin around the merry-go-round; play on the trampoline; or enjoy the quiet of mat-time by the fire, drawing or reading stories.

For children like Colette’s 4 year old son, Max, the camp was tremendous. He gleefully describes seeing everybody arrive with their bikes, then endlessly riding up and down the slopes with his friends. Max’s other highlights were “tobogganing on the grass instead of the snow, and playing with Will”, a friend who had graduated from Playcentre.

For Johanna Harland and her family the best parts varied. Daughter, Roseanna, talks with relish about “having tea all together and climbing the hill a hundred million times.” Husband, Roger, mentions how “all the families and children played and worked so well together. The big children helped the little children; it felt like an old fashioned community.”

For parent, Katie Ridley, the “different age groups playing together without restrictions” was especially memorable. “Grass sledding occupied the children for hours at a time,” Katie says, “and the children loved having rugby fields of space to explore.”

Katie also enjoyed the “different mix of people on camp.” Typically you only see the people at Playcentre that attend the same session as you. Having a different combination of people meant strengthening relationships with those you don’t normally see during a typical week.

Another positive that Katie mentions is how little it cost to holiday with other families. The accommodation was reasonable, and sharing catering meant that the food bill was significantly lower than a regular family break.

To my surprise, even mealtimes were relaxed and enjoyable. Being in a different space and having burnt off so much energy during the day, the children seemed to eat well. And the number of adults around to cook and clean-up meant less work for everybody.

Another Playcentre parent, Nathalie, who attended the camp with her two children, observed how nice it was to see the six or seven Playcentre graduates that attended “looking after the younger ones”. Nathalie explains that “because recent graduates are the younger ones at school, they are often pleased to be in a position of responsibility.” Her son, Noah, even performed a magic show for the smaller children. He “loved being big,” she laughs.

Although camps and other overnight excursions take initiative and planning, the benefits are abundant. The bonds forge long-lasting relationships that ultimately make for a more sustainable and resilient Playcentre. Of course, it’s also huge amounts of fun - just ask Max, Roseanna or Noah!

Our challenge to you is to be the person that suggests a camp or some other out-of-the-box activity to support your centre. And, if you do, please make sure to tell us about it.

If you’d like any advice on planning a centre camp feel free to contact the crew at Landsdowne Terrace Playcentre. We’d be happy to tautoko your efforts. And we highly recommend Glenroy Lodge: http://www.glenroylodge.co.nz/.

Posted: Friday 25 August 2017