Encouraging Your Child to Make Friends on an Activity Trip
There are many benefits of visiting an activity centre like ours, such as helping with anxiety or improving mental health. An activity break can also give your child a chance to make new friends, helping to improve their confidence in making friends elsewhere.
Talking to new people can be scary whatever your age, yet for many children connecting with others can be difficult or frightening, especially if they have disabilities. To help, here is our guide to encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip…
Encourage them before travelling
It can often be beneficial to prepare your children for their trip, from helping them pack to talking about the exciting activities and fun games they’ll be doing.
You could also mention that other children will be there too, possibly doing activities in your group or sitting near you during meals.
You could then suggest that your child talks to the other children, or give them a positive goal, like to find out other people’s names.
Some children may be anxious about this idea, some may not understand the point, whilst others will look forward to it. Whatever your child’s reaction, listen to their response and give them gentle encouragement to interact with others.
Doing this before your arrival gives them time to process the information and be more prepared to communicate with others.
Work out some ‘opening lines’ together
It may be a good idea to practice saying hello in various ways, especially if you predict your child will need extra encouragement to make friends. To assist them further, try to create some opening lines or questions your child could use to start a conversation.
Examples could be ‘My name is- what is yours?’ or ‘I like your jumper’ or ‘What did you enjoy about today?‘
Practising and rehearsing social skills in a safe and warm environment will support your child by teaching social cues. Planning out what they could say can make them feel that bit more prepared to meet new people.
Lead by example and encourage them to follow
Once you have arrived for your activity break, strive to speak to others in a friendly manner so that your children can pick up on it and possibly follow your example.
You could even use the opening lines you created to show them how they can progress and add prompts for your children to contribute or carry on the conversation.
By modelling positive, friendly behaviours, you can guide your children to do the same.
Talk to them about feelings and encourage empathy
Parents can help children develop social skills during a short activity break by focusing on feelings and empathy, which will help build friendships.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts and feelings of others. Developing feelings and empathy is a complex process that starts from birth and continues throughout our lives, but it is a key factor in making friends.
- Identify feelings, both positive and negative – It’s important to put a name to what your child might be feeling whenever you can. Saying something as simple as, ‘You seem happy/excited/joyful/upset/angry/scared‘ helps a child identify what they are feeling in themselves and can be all they to hear to express their emotions
- Identify feelings in others – In the same way, saying ‘That person seems happy/angry‘ helps children see emotions in others and allows them to identify with them. This can be developed further by using them as conversation starters.
Use feelings to start conversations
During an activity break, giving children prompts increases empathy and provides an opportunity to start a conversation, laying the groundwork for friendship.
For example: ‘They seem happy they did the activity, why don’t you say well done and ask them what they enjoyed the most?’ or ‘That child looks upset, perhaps they are scared of doing the activity. What would you say to them?‘
Likewise, questions related to negative feelings could also allow them to start a chat and connect.
If these prompts lead nowhere, that’s fine. It’s best to not force the situation further, instead make suggestions and allow the children to connect in their own way if they wish to.
Notice and praise caring behaviour
Whether with your prompts or not, make a point of praising your child when they show empathy and engage in a caring way.
You could say how proud you are when you see them being kind and thoughtful to others. State why it was positive behaviour and talk about how it might have made the other person feel.
Positive reinforcement will give them belief in themselves and motivate them to do it again, hopefully increasing the bond between children.
Other issues that children often struggle with are sharing and taking turns. Or they may have difficulty being in a team. When they get these things right, however, it will increase their social skills.
Adventure activities can often be a combination of group work and solo participation. So an activity break is a perfect opportunity to practise their sharing skills and general communication with others.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have groups no bigger than 10 people, meaning it’s easy for children to talk to others and participate in group activities.
Highlight when and how they shared correctly or gave help to others. They may not have realised they’ve done something positive, so nice comments on how they behaved will support their future interactions.
Experts recommend providing immediate positive feedback, that’s kept brief and simple.
Encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip – Summary
- Prepare them before the trip so they have time to process the fact other children will be there to talk to
- Practise greeting others and prepare some opening lines
- Lead by example and start conversations, aim to include your child
- Identify positive and negative feelings in other children
- Guide your child to relate to other people’s feelings and to use empathy to prompt them to start a conversation
- When you see your children exhibiting friendly or caring behaviours, such as sharing and taking turns, praise them – this encourages children to repeat the positive behaviours
Finally, parents shouldn’t place social expectations on children and force friendships to emerge from nowhere. They could make one or two good friends during their stay with no need to worry about them being the most popular kid on site.
With over 25 years of adventure breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor, many children have come out of their shell and made new friends during their stay. Sometimes with help from the ideas above, and sometimes all on their own.
However your children make new friends on an activity trip, it is a magical moment that makes the stay even more worthwhile.
We welcome many families time and time again, on weekend and midweek breaks. They come for the activities and facilities, and also for the chance to meet new people. See more about our family breaks in Devon for additional information.
Residential trips are an opportunity for children to learn, grow, and have fun. Yet for a parent, watching your child leave for a residential can be a daunting or worrying experience. Many parents wonder how their child will behave and will they be safe?
In this news piece, we hope to ease your worries with guidance on how to keep your child safe on a residential trip, even if you will not be by their side…
Learn about the residential
It’s essential to carefully plan for a residential, which starts with knowing all the details. Teachers or group leaders will be arranging the trip but parents, guardians or carers should be involved in several ways.
You could talk to the people planning the residential. Schools commonly hold pre-trip meetings to inform and take questions. If not, consider contacting them directly.
It can seem scary entrusting your children in someone else’s care. So knowing timings, travelling plans, locations and sleeping arrangements will settle your nerves. You can also inform the residential leaders of important information about your child to keep them safe and well.
Talk with your child about their trip
When you have all the details about the residential, you can pass it on to your child in a way they will understand. This helps them get excited whilst also contributing to their safety on the trip as they will be better prepared.
Talk them through where they are going, what they will be doing, and how days will be structured. Listen to any concerns they may have and add reassurance.
Perhaps your child is nervous or unsure about going? The more your child talks about it, the better they will feel. We have compiled some extra tips on how to get them excited for a residential trip.
Discuss safety and boundaries
Another area of discussion is what they must do to keep safe.
Talk to your child about the importance of staying with the group – close to their teacher, group leader or other authority figures, such as activity instructors.
It can be helpful to explain that a residential is fun and thrilling but that they still need to follow the same rules they follow when at home, at school or walking on the pavement.
It’s often beneficial to add extra boundaries unique to their residential. Examples could be emphasising that they must stay in the centre, or that they can’t use the activity facilities until told to by an instructor.
The more conversations you have, the better children will understand the rules, even though you won’t be there to supervise them.
Check out the location
If you know where the residential is taking place, why not spend time with your child looking at it online? Search for the location and see what comes up. There may be galleries on their website or good images on the search engine to go through.
If brochures or itineraries are available, you could go through them together to help get your child excited. Plus it gives you extra opportunities to establish the rules of the trip. If there are maps or plans of the grounds and accommodation, use them to set boundaries, showing where they can and cannot go.
Pack their bags as a team
Get your child involved in the packing of their bags. Since you both know what the residential involves, you can ensure they have everything needed for a good time whilst looking after themselves.
Depending on their age and abilities, kids can contribute in different ways. Let younger ones see what you are packing and explain why each item and piece of clothing is essential. They could then add fun and comforting extras, such as a toy, book or accessories.
Older children could pack their bags themselves, with supervision and guidance if needed. This teaches them to plan ahead, increases independence, and makes them think of their own wellbeing and safety.
Packing together reassures them, and you, that they have everything needed to feel prepared, safe and secure.
See our guide on things to pack for a residential trip.
Make them stand out
One more point about packing is to dress your children in brightly coloured clothes that stand out and avoid dark colours that will blend into surroundings. This will make them easy to see and remember in a crowd or against a natural backdrop.
The colour of their clothing is unlikely to be an issue during a Calvert Trust Exmoor visit, as activity groups are small and supervised by the same instructor throughout. But elsewhere on other residentials, it may be beneficial for their safety.
Make sure contact details are up to date
Confirm that the group leaders have your correct contact details before the residential. Provide one or two additional emergency numbers if you may not be reachable – just in case.
Have faith in risk assessments
Schools and residential leaders will have your child’s safety as their highest priority. They will conduct rigorous risk assessments for every activity and location, whether it be a day out or week away.
A risk assessment must be carried out for each residential, which will help teachers identify and remove any of the potential risks. Schools must adhere to set staffing to child ratios and will keep individual physical, medical, social and behavioural needs in mind before and during a residential.
Schools must also have an emergency response plan to follow if an accident or incident occurs during a trip.
Plus, residential centres have their unique risk assessments and safety procedures with trained staff and instructors who also have everyone’s safety as their highest priority.
Many sites are also audited or inspected by independent boards. For instance, here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we have…
- The Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge
- Five-star activity accommodation status awarded by Visit England
- Been certified by activity bodies such as British Canoeing, the British Horse Society, and more
Residential breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor
At our activity centre we welcome children of all ages and specialise in accessible breaks for people with physical, learning, sensory or behavioural disabilities. Our residential breaks are based at our remote centre in North Devon, meaning the group stays safely inside the grounds away from busy roads.
The stay will include activities throughout the day, then access to group swimming sessions, the sensory room, and social areas in the evening. Activities, accommodation, meals and facilities are all on-site and included in the costs.
Wherever they are visiting, keeping your child safe on a residential break starts with good communication and ensuring children understand what they should and should not do to keep themselves safe. The residential leaders and centre staff will take it from there to make sure everyone has a wonderful break.
Can outdoor activities help a child with anxiety? Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we truly believe that the answer is yes!
Read on as we explain why adventure breaks and outdoor activities help with anxiety in children of all ages.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion that is perfectly normal to experience. It can be described as a feeling of tension alongside worried or negative thoughts. Which is something we all go through occasionally.
However, anxiety can become more than an emotion and start to influence our lives. For example, people with anxiety may avoid situations they worry about. Others may constantly find their emotions hard to control so it affects their lives more dramatically, leading to many anxiety-based disorders of varying degrees.
Those with anxiety disorders frequently worry about and fear everyday situations at intense, excessive, and persistent levels.
Anxiety disorders and mental health are closely related and often influence each other.
Why would a child have anxiety?
There are many reasons why children could be feeling anxious. Key causes of anxiety include…
Separation – younger children tend to experience separation anxiety from parents or loved ones and do not want to be away from them.
Phobias – irrational fears such as heights, bugs etc.
Life experiences – remembering past events that they believe went badly or reflecting on negative feelings can cause anxiety in similar situations.
Social settings – being shy and not confident when meeting new people, or expecting to feel embarrassed, silly, or rejected by others.
Life changes – anxiety can be brought on by changes to the everyday routine, new settings, unfamiliar situations, moving to a new house and school, or the loss of a close relative or friend.
What are the signs of anxiety in children?
Each child displays their anxiety differently, but common signs include…
- Becoming irritable
- Having difficulty sleeping or having bad dreams
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Losing appetite or not eating properly
- Constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- Asking lots of questions or needing reassurance
- Feeling tense and fidgety
- Complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
- Lack of confidence to do everyday things
- Avoiding activities they previously enjoyed, such as seeing friends, going out or going to school
How can disability contribute to anxiety?
Anxiety can affect any child or adult, but children with a disability may be extra prone to feeling anxiety.
Depending on the disability or condition, a child may have additional difficulties in social settings and may face further struggles with change.
It’s also likely that their life experiences are unique to them and different to those without disabilities; they may feel that no-one else understands what they have gone through and that they can’t do what others can. Many people with disabilities feel social isolation and loneliness.
Therefore, their anxiety rates are high, leading to additional disorders.
It can be difficult for children with learning disabilities to express their feelings of anxiety. They may not understand their feelings and what is causing them, so cannot easily talk about them. Trying to express anxious feelings with limited communication skills can lead to misunderstandings, causing anxiety to intensify.
10 ways outdoor activities can help a child with anxiety…
1 – An improved sense of wellbeing
Outdoor activities usually take place in quiet places, away from the hustle of everyday life, especially at adventure centres like Calvert Trust Exmoor located in the countryside next to a national park.
Just by being in an environment surrounded by nature brings on an improved sense of wellbeing and is relaxing, reducing anxiety in general. Fresh air, trees and pretty views put the mind at ease even at a young age.
2 – An acceptance of new experiences
Structured outdoor activities can encourage an openness to new experiences. Doing new activities helps children learn that they can do things they didn’t think possible. Which reduces fears, worries and anxieties.
The support and encouragement of those around them improves their experience and helps them overcome phobias, improve social confidence, and build positive memories.
3 – A new way of thinking
By going through new experiences, children can develop a new way of thinking.
For example – a child abseiling for the first time has probably never thought about how to abseil before. In the build-up, they may nervous and worried about falling. Yet with the help of Activity Instructors and those around them, the child will learn about the equipment, how the ropes work, and will take on important information. This makes them focus on how to abseil rather than worrying about whether they can or not, reducing anxiety.
Also, overcoming outdoor activity fears can develop resilience and mental toughness whilst creating positive memories, reducing anxiety in the future.
4 – An increase in confidence and independence
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement during outdoor activities which improves confidence and self-belief.
Completing an activity teaches a child that they are competent and good enough to do it, acting as an inspiration to attempt other goals. Feelings of self-doubt are overcome and replaced with perseverance – improving confidence and lowing levels of anxiety.
Many children also feel a sense of independence. This could be because they become open to doing activities and exercises that we may not regularly do. An effect of this is a freshly engaged mind and fresh determination.
5 – Different stimulation
Being outdoors doing activates provides different and new stimuli. By embracing them, children can increase their ability to be in unfamiliar places. Seeing, smelling, hearing and doing new things becomes less overwhelming, and the idea of somewhere ‘new’ doesn’t seem as daunting.
6 – A connection with others
A sense of belonging and community can form between children when in an unfamiliar environment. The process of doing new activities together connects children, especially when several of the group are anxious.
This shared feeling of anxiety is what bonds children who have just met, and they can quickly form a team or friendship.
7 – Acquiring new skills
By doing outdoor activities, children can learn skills whilst improving general coordination and motor skills. In the long run, this improves self-confidence and allows them to see themselves in a positive light.
Anxiety reduces as they build confidence and experience different ways to learn and succeed.
8 – Reduced stress
It is well documented that stress and fatigue, caused by any number of things, can contribute to anxiety. A stressed child could struggle to deal with their feelings, so anxiety grows.
Outdoor activities help overcome phobias such as heights, encourage socialising and offer positive life experiences, reducing stress and lowing anxiety levels.
9 – A feeling of responsibility and control
As listed above, children can have anxiety because of what they are going through at that moment in time. Giving them the responsibility and control over the situation helps reduce fears.
During outdoor activity sessions, the children always feel in control of their own actions. A child may be encouraged to take part, but it is ultimately their decision if they do or not. Subconsciously this reduces anxiety as they always feel in control and make their own decisions.
10 – An improvement in mental health
As previously mentioned, anxiety can have an impact on mental health and vice versa. We have another news piece focusing on how breaks at an adventure centre can improve mental health and therefore help with anxiety.
At the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, we often meet anxious children who do not think they will enjoy their stay or are worried about doing certain outdoor activities.
Then they have a wonderful time and love every activity. The children conquer their fears and leave with a positive mindset.
If nothing else, children spending time with family or friends causes them to relax and enjoy the experience, helping them to understand anxiety and developing their skills to get past their worries in other settings.
We provide outdoor activities in a safe environment, with trained instructors who really get to know the children, which also helps with anxiety.
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we believe that every child should have access to adventure activities, especially children with disabilities. Therefore, we strive to provide the very best adventure breaks possible and encourage children of all abilities to visit our accessible centre in Devon.
Adventure activities of any kind are fun, exciting and educational. They encourage being outdoors, doing exercise and making friends. Plus adventure breaks help build independence and personal growth. The overall benefits are vast and ongoing, whatever the circumstances.
But did you know we’re the only disability centre of our kind in the south of England? Which means visiting us has its unique advantages. Here are the benefits of visiting Calvert Trust Exmoor for a child with a disability…
They will be well looked after
Everyone’s safety and happiness should be a top priority during an adventure break. So we have published some tips for choosing an accessible activity holiday to ensure you can get your dream break.
At the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, we can guarantee every child will be cared for equally, enjoying the same experiences as those around them. Our friendly staff will support parents and carers to look after everyone at all times. During activities, the highly trained instructors tailor the sessions so those with mild to complex disabilities can do the same as each other.
Children can enjoy all the facilities on-site, from watching TV to swimming to enjoying a meal. With everything in one place, children are surrounded by others to ensure they are looked after.
In our experience, when a child with a disability feels looked after, included and equal, they enjoy a sense of freedom and independence and have a wonderful time.
They will do new activities
There are plenty of activities adapted for all, such as abseiling, climbing, horse riding, canoeing, cycling, and much more. Some of these activities are only available for people with disabilities at specialist activity centres like ours.
Many guests visit for the first time questioning if the activities are do-able for a child with a disability. They are then pleasantly surprised when they see children doing tasks they didn’t think possible.
“Beth went abseiling…! I mean it’s a hard thing for Beth to focus walking downstairs but for her to walk down an almost vertical wall was completely emotional to watch her achieve something even I had limited her to not being able to do.”
– from Beth and Grace’s guest story
There are many benefits for a child successfully taking part in an activity they’ve never done before…
They will overcome nerves and fears
It’s only natural that children will feel nervous about doing an activity for the first time, and part of the experience is overcoming their worries and fears.
Their designated instructors will make children feel safe, giving thorough instructions in a way they can understand.
“Our instructor was incredible. He gave Edward the confidence to do every single activity, even the zip wire, which from our arrival, Edward was determined he wouldn’t be confident enough to do.”
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement when guests do an activity they enjoyed or achieved something they may not have thought possible. Which improves confidence and self-belief.
They will develop and grow
For schools, we have another news piece that discusses why learning outside the classroom is important. Yet the points discussed benefit all children taking part in outdoor and indoor adventure activities.
For many disabled children, being outside doing activities has the following benefits…
- Adaption to new situations and building resilience – Overcoming any difficulties or nerves may be their first taste of resilience, which is considered a crucial part of developing self-confidence
- Gaining a sense of responsibility and independence – Activity breaks give children new responsibilities, like taking care of their belongs, asking for their meals, or putting on a safety helmet. This will build on their sense of independence as they aim to do each thing correctly.
- Developing problem-solving skills, motor skills and co-ordination – The activities on offer encourage physical movements, which help develop both gross and fine motor skills. We understand that not every child can move some or all of their body, but where possible activities are adapted to accommodate their abilities.
- Building trust and communication – At Calvert Trust Exmoor, guests do activities with the same group and instructor throughout their stay. Everyone bonds to ensure that individuals are comfortable and that each person knows what they are doing in activities. So guests will inevitably build up a good rapport with those around them. This leads to building trust and communication.
- Making new friends – By building trust and communication skills, many children learn how to interact with others during their stay and may even make new friends.
They will feel ongoing benefits
It’s well documented that physical exercise and being outdoors has positive and lasting benefits. Studies show physical outdoor activity lowers blood pressure, improves short-term memory, helps fight off illnesses and improves mental wellbeing. Read our news piece How an Adventure Break Can Improve Mental Health for more detail on this.
Residential experiences provide opportunities and benefits that cannot be achieved anywhere else. Advantages include academic success, general happiness and good wellbeing.
They can look forward to visiting the centre
It’s always nice to have something to look forward to, including accessible holidays in Devon, and the build-up to a visit to Calvert Trust Exmoor can also have big benefits.
For example – the anticipation can lead to a more positive outlook. The act of choosing what to take and packing bags can increase focus. Discussing what the stay will involve could help improve communication. We also have tips available for things to pack and how to get your child excited if you need them.
Whether visiting for the first time or coming back for another stay, each child will gain benefits unique to them during their time at the centre. Join us soon to discover the benefits of visiting Calvert Trust Exmoor for a child with a disability.
If you would like to book a break with us or have a question about an upcoming visit, please phone us on 01598 763221 and the team will be willing to help.
Don’t forget that our breaks include activities, accommodation, meals, use of the facilities and more.
As an accessible site offering outdoor adventure activities in Devon, we know the importance of maintaining a welcoming and inclusive environment. So here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have created this guide to help those who may be unsure of the general guidelines in regards to appropriate terminology.
Please use our guide as a way to help spread awareness of proper vocabulary concerning disabilities and feel free to share this information, where you can, too!
Our information is provided by the www.gov.uk website, recommendations provided by disability-specific charities and through our own experiences. Of course, it is worth bearing in mind that everyone is different, and some people may prefer specific terms or make reference to themselves in a particular way, and this should always be respected.
Below are some examples of appropriate and inappropriate general terminology:
In regards to a general group of people who have disabilities-
Acceptable: ‘Disabled people’, ‘people with disabilities’
Unacceptable: ‘The disabled’, ‘the handicapped’
Concerning people and their disability-
Acceptable: ‘Has (name of the condition, e.g. Asperger’s, depression, epilepsy)’
Unacceptable: Terms which suggest a struggle, such as saying they ‘suffer from…’ or are ‘a victim of…’
When discussing a disability-
Acceptable: ‘Condition’ or ‘disability’
Unacceptable: ‘Illness’, ‘disease’, ‘handicap’
In regards to autism, it is worth reading through some of these terms which apply specifically to autism. If you would like to know more about autism, please take a look at our blog on Understanding Autism.
When discussing autistic people and their surrounding friends and family-
Acceptable: ‘Autistic people, their families and friends’
Unacceptable: ‘People living with autism’
When referring to children who do not have autism-
Acceptable: ‘Typically developing children’
Unacceptable: ‘Normally developed children’
When explaining what Asperger’s syndrome is-
Acceptable: It is a ‘form of autism’
Unacceptable: It is not a ‘rare or mild form of autism’
When referring to a person or child who has autism-
Acceptable: ‘Person/child on the autism spectrum’
Unacceptable: ‘an autistic’, ‘an autist’, ‘autie’, ‘aspie’
Terms to Avoid
Please avoid the use of these terms as they are unacceptable and can cause people to feel singled-out and uncomfortable:
We want to ensure that a positive and correct outlook is encouraged across the UK for accessible sites and our guests. If you have any other terms you would like to share with us; please contact us on our social media channels as we would love to hear from you!
Alternatively, if you require more information about the adventure breaks we offer and are interested in booking a holiday with us, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Please include attribution to https://calvertexmoor.org.uk/ with this graphic.
North Devon is inundated with beautiful beaches and stunning countryside. With so many picturesque locations to choose from, selecting a coastal stroll can be a challenging task!
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing accessible outdoor adventure activities in Devon. Proud of our beautiful surroundings, we have put together advice when hiring a beach wheelchair or carriage for some of the top locations in the area for your next trip!
The North Devon Coast
In recent years, our glorious county has been a part of some incredible projects, including the Countryside Mobility Scheme. This non-profit organisation aims to ensure that the South West countryside is made accessible for all visitors. With their influence and the impact of other dedicated, individual companies, many places in the area now have available beach wheelchairs and carriages, a mixture of both manual and electrical.
How to Locate a Beach Wheelchair or Carriage
Wherever you are on holiday, the first port of call should be the tourist information centre in the location you want to access. Here, you will be able to find out about the accessible opportunities in the area as well as how to hire any available equipment.
Local Accessible Beaches
As we have mentioned, our location in North Devon is fortunate to have a few trampers, wheelchairs and carriages available at local beach locations. Below, we will discuss each location and how you can get hold of one.
About Croyde Bay
Croyde beach is a small surfers paradise situated just up from Saunton Sands. This lovely bay tends to attract surfers from across the country and offers surf lessons for anyone willing to have a go! Calvert Trust Exmoor are currently partnered with the Wave Project and Surf South West to provide one to one surf lessons to our guests in Croyde. If you are curious, why not discover the benefits of surfing for people with a disability in our blog?
Croyde is recognised as having disability access. However, similar to Saunton Sands, the entrance consists of a lot of soft sand which makes wheelchair access harder.
We have provided two of our own beach wheelchairs for the Wave Project and Surf Southwest which contribute to the accessibility of guests and students learning to surf at Croyde beach.
Wheelchairs & Carriages Available – 5
About Saunton Sands
Saunton Sands is a stunning landscape three and a half-miles of warm, golden sands. Not far from the town of Braunton, the beach is home to the beautiful dunes known as the Braunton Burrows which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The beach features accessible amenities including two accessible toilets made available through the RADAR national key scheme. The car park hosts seven disabled car parking spaces. If these spaces fill up, the car park attendants are on hand to ensure another suitable space is found, and access to the beach is supported.
The entrance to the beach consists of very soft sand, which can prove to be challenging for wheelchairs, as well as a slightly steep ramp leading down to the sand.
However, Saunton Sands is home to a few beach wheelchairs and carriages located at the Saunton Sands Beach Shop. They are suitable for both adults and children and the range includes :
• Three Landeez beach wheelchairs
• Two NOMAD all-terrain carriages
How to Hire at Saunton Sands
To hire one of the trampers or carriages, please call the Saunton Sands Beach Shop on (01271) 890771.
During the summer, advanced booking is recommended due to the popularity of Saunton beach, especially when the school holidays begin.
The trampers can be hired for:
• Half a day
• A full day
• Or on a weekly basis
Two of the wheelchairs at Saunton Sands have been provided by the Calvert Trust Exmoor site.
Electric Wheelchairs Available – 1
About Woolacombe Bay
Woolacombe Bay is another dreamy coastal location, and host to a glorious landscape of golden sands. Extremely popular in the summer months, Woolacombe village is inundated with visitors and encompasses a lovely, fun atmosphere.
Accessible toilets are available in the village, and the beach is recognised as having easy disabled access, with a ramp that leads to the beach. However, soft sand can dominate the entrance of the beach when the tides are low. An electric beach wheelchair is available to hire from the Woolacombe Tourist Information Centre.
There are a couple of routes you can follow off the beach too, which go through the atmospheric sand dunes, also known as Woolacombe Warren. Be sure to look out for the rabbits which roam the area!
How to Hire at Woolacombe Bay
Due to the popularity of Woolacombe, booking ahead of time is thoroughly recommended. You can either call 01271 870553 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To hire the beach wheelchair, you automatically become a member of the Countryside Mobility, which has an annual fee of £10.00. Alternatively, you can try a £2.50 two week ‘Taster Membership’.
Once a member of Countryside Mobility, you are allowed to use the available trampers at any of the 36 sites in the South West.
A donation of £5 per session is also encouraged.
Electric Wheelchairs Available – 2
About Lundy Island
Situated 12 miles off the Devon coast, taking the trip to Lundy is a main desire of many tourists who come to the North Devon area. The raw and natural landscape of the island is immense and the wildlife is spectacular. Though rare to see, both deer and puffin inhabit the island.
If you are lucky, you might see one of Lundy’s famous seals! They usually like to hang around the rocks near the harbour.
An exciting location to explore, Lundy Island has two electric wheelchairs available for hire. Both travel to the island, and staying overnight, can prove to be quite tricky and for some, it may not be possible. Before booking, both these aspects need to be researched and heavily considered.
How to Hire at Lundy Island
Booking in advance is essential to ensure someone is available to assist once the boat has docked on the island.
The electric wheelchairs are available for day hire. However, you will already need to be a Countryside Mobility member due to the reduced staffing on the island and the requirement of tramper induction for new members.
Hire will cost £20 for a full day and £50 for a week.
National Trust Wheelchairs and Accessibility
Not necessarily beach related, but the National Trust is responsible for many popular walks and attractions in the North Devon area. A few places include:
The National Trust can hire out accessible wheelchairs at specific locations.
For more information on accessible places in Devon, take a look at our blog which selects our favourite National Trust sites in the area.
How to Hire at the National Trust
If you are interested in visiting a National Trust site and require an accessible wheelchair, it is recommended to ring the place to check for wheelchair availability. Contact details for each site are provided on the National Trust website.
Availability will depend on the individual location, and you may need to check if the wheelchairs can be used throughout the year or are seasonal.
Wheelchair hire is usually part of the Countryside Mobility Scheme, which means you will need to be a member.
The National Trust Essential Companion Card
The Essential Companion Card is also worth mentioning in regards to the National Trust. It is for people who require carers and allows one or two companions to join you on the trip for free. They will be free regardless, but it makes the entry process much smoother and quicker.
Hopefully, we have shared with you some useful information about hiring beach wheelchairs and carriages in North Devon so you can make the most of your next beach holiday. When are you next visiting the coast? We would love to know! Tell us on our social media channels.
If you are interested in the accessible activity breaks we have to offer, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
It is not unusual to feel anxious when you are in an unfamiliar setting and situation. It is an entirely acceptable feeling, no matter what your age or who you are.
It is important to remember, if you do feel these emotions, they do not have to remain with you throughout your adventure break. There are small but helpful things you can do to improve how you perceive your new situation.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing accessible breaks for everyone to enjoy, from school residentials to holidays for people with disabilities. We want to make sure that every one of our guests has the best experience possible, so have created this blog to help you.
Who Can Benefit From This Advice?
We have created these tips for everyone to try if they are ever feeling anxious when they are away from home.
If you are an independent adult on an accessible adventure break, we hope you can refer to this blog to help you if you are feeling unsure.
If you are a carer or a parent with a child of any age, who is about to embark on a residential adventure, we hope we can help you with ideas on how to alleviate their feelings of anxiety.
Accept How You Are Feeling
It is ok to feel a bit on edge when you are away from home, even if you are only down the road! It is a feeling that can primarily occur when your usual daily routines have had to change for the duration of your trip.
Begin by identifying the feelings of unease and accepting them for what they are. It is important to remind yourself that it is completely fine and natural to feel this way when you are away from what you know.
Talk To Someone About How you Feel
Once you have accepted how you currently feel, let someone else know. Whether they are:
• A staff member, such as an instructor
• A family member
• A friend you have gone on the adventure break with
• A teacher
• A carer
You never know, they may feel similar and appreciate that you have confided in them! You can talk about what you love back at home and how they might also like it if they ever come to visit.
It may break the ice for those you do not know so well too.
Remember You Can Call Home
Living in the 21st-century means you are never too far from home! With mobile phones, social media, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp, staying in touch couldn’t be easier.
If you would like to ring home and talk about things, go for it! There is no shame in letting your nearest and dearest know about how you are doing. They will be able to see the situation from the outside and remind you of all the amazing reasons you wanted to go in the first place.
Talking to your family members will reassure your anxiety that everything back home is ok and you aren’t missing out on anything. Their jolly voices will let you know they are happy and healthy.
Put Things Into Perspective
Once you have accepted and communicated how you feel, it is time to try and gently shift your perspective on the experience.
You feel anxious, and that is completely acceptable. And it is also ok to feel worried but still want to make the most of your opportunity away from home.
Think about the initial reasons why you wanted to come. What activities did you want to try? Were they as you expected them to be? How did it feel to do them? What highlights will you share when you get back home?
Record Your Feelings
Noting down your feelings can be as effective as talking for some people.
You could think about:
• What were the highlights of the day? You could break down the day into morning, afternoon and evening and reflect what you enjoyed the most at each point.
• What challenges did you face today?
• How could the situation be different next time?
Good or bad, it is all acceptable to note down!
Perhaps you will revisit your thoughts in your journal, or perhaps you won’t, it doesn’t matter! Similar to talking, it is just good to get the feelings out in the open so you can move forward and take each day as it comes.
Try to Be Social, Even If You May Not Feel Like It
When you feel uncomfortable, the idea of talking with new people can feel incredibly daunting.
If you are on a trip without company from home, or with people you do not know so well, it is essential to ensure you do not isolate yourself, especially if you are not in the most positive of mind frames.
By socialising, it will feel like a massive achievement in itself and may instantly lift your mood. Many adventure breaks have social areas for guests to interact with. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have numerous social areas for our guests to relax in including, The Barn bar, the games room and our stunning courtyard for warmer weather.
You never know who you are going to meet, so try your best to keep an open mind even though this is easier said than done. You may make a friend for life, all starting with a simple hello!
Keep Social Goals Attainable
If you are a shy person, keep your social goals small and achievable, so you don’t feel too overwhelmed. Try meeting one person, to begin with. Listening is an admirable trait in people, so try this at first and see where you go!
Get Out Your Comfort Zone
When you feel like you miss home, try and reflect back to why you wanted to go on your adventure break and the activities you envisioned yourself trying. Speak to your instructor about your feelings, so they can encourage and reassure you to try all the experiences you thought you would try before you felt anxious on the trip.
Bring Familiar Things With You
Bringing something special to you from home is a popular thing to do.
It could be a much-loved photo, a cuddly toy, some sweet treats or a cushion. Anything that brings you comfort, don’t be afraid to take it with you.
For parent or carers whose children are going on a residential trip away, why not ask your child what they would like to take with them? Take a look at our blog on how to get your child excited for a residential trip for some other handy hints and tips!
Have you ever felt homesick when you were on an adventure break? What helped you? We would love to know! Why not let us know on our social media channels?
Tips for Choosing an Accessible Activity Holiday
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing accessible holidays for everyone to enjoy. With this in mind, we have selected some hints and tips to help you choose your dream activity break.
Research What the Provider Means By the Term ‘Accessible’
When choosing an accessible holiday, it is essential to make sure the holiday provider is fully equipped to meet all your requirements.
Where a provider describes themselves as ‘accessible’, you may need to enquire into what facilities they have and if they are relevant to what you need.
One idea might be to check that showering facilities are fitted with any further aids needed. For example, a simple one would be a shower without a step.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, when we use the term accessible, we mean that our activities and accommodation are fully accessible, no matter the needs. We are equipped with specialist facilities which means we can ensure that all our guests are fully catered for, and all requirements are met.
Our accommodation is built to ensure all our guests receive ultimate comfort when staying with us and a selection of our bedrooms feature h-track ceiling hoists. We also provide other rooms with mobile hoists.
Please take a look at our accessibility statement for more information about our site facilities.
Consider the Location and the Activities You Would Like to Try
What you achieve on your holiday will likely depend on where the site is located and what is available in the area.
Perhaps you would like to try water-based activities? Would you prefer to be a travelling distance to the sea? Are you keen to learn some bushcraft skills? These desires need to be taken into consideration and locations chosen accordingly.
Our accessible site in Exmoor is situated in the perfect part of the country for a variety of activities. To name a few, they include :
• Water-based activities such as canoeing and sailing on the stunning Wistlandpound Reservoir
• Accessible cycling
• Abseiling and climbing in our indoor and outdoor facilities
• Equestrian sports in our indoor and outdoor arenas
• Swimming in our indoor heated pool or relax in our Jacuzzi
We are also in partnership with Surf South West and the Wave Project, based in the beautiful surf village of Croyde. This fantastic opportunity allows us to offer our guests one to one surfing lessons!
And don’t worry about the weather, we have a selection of rainy day activities for our guests to try, meaning that typical English drizzle will never get in the way of a fun-filled accessible activity break with us!
Ensure the Site Has a Focus on Providing High-Quality Staff
So much of an activity break is dependent on the joy and expertise provided by the instructors and staff at the site.
Making sure the site promotes professionalism and invests in employees with the skills required to ensure the safety of guests amongst their staff is essential.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to safeguarding the welfare of children, young people, vulnerable adults and our staff.
To ensure this, our staff must comply with the following:
• Provide two satisfactory references
• Complete a satisfactory check by the Disclosure and Barring Service (previously names the CRB check)
• Complete a probationary period of at least three months
All our staff are fully qualified and have received specialised training. We like to allocate one continuous staff member to the activity group for the duration of the stay. This is so you can form a trusting relationship which ensures all needs are met so you can get the most out of your time with us!
Consider Your Leisure Time
After a busy day of activities, you may need a relaxing place to sit and unwind and to take some time out for yourself.
At our site, we have a selection of places for both socialising and relaxing. You can choose to hang out in:
• The Barn bar and games room
• The TV room
• The sensory room
• Our conservatory and dining rooms
• Our lovely courtyard garden
Looking into other little extras provided by the activity site, such as Wi-Fi, may also be worth researching, especially if you would like to contact home to tell everyone about your achievements!
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, our Wi-Fi is free and is available in Reception, the Barn Bar, the Acland Room and the Courtyard.
Think About if You Would Like a Fully Inclusive Stay
Consider what food requirements you need for your stay. For example, would you need meals supplied?
Furthermore, would you prefer everything to be onsite? Our accessible site in Exmoor provides a fully inclusive experience. The total price will include:
• All activities
• Food and drink
• The use of the swimming pool
• The use of the sensory room
• Evening entertainment
Some of our apartments are also complete with a kitchen. We can cater for a variety of circumstances such as residential trips, families and individuals. We also provide an onsite shop which can help out with any forgotten necessities, so you needn’t unnecessarily leave the site!
Check Reviews and Testimonies
It is always best to do your research before committing to a holiday! We would recommend taking the time to read the company’s reviews and testimonies on their website.
If you would like to know more about our guests’ experiences, take a look at our guest stories. Here you can see how the Calvert experience has provided accessible holidays for so many different guests, families, residentials and groups.
Hopefully, we have provided you with some helpful advice so you can book your next holiday!
If you have any other handy hints and tips, we would love to hear from you on our social media channels!
We are proud providers of charity holidays for the disabled in Devon and are committed to ensuring all our guests can achieve what they want on their stay. If you would like to know about the breaks we offer, we would love to chat with you! Please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who are not familiar with sign language, it is not uncommon to assume that sign language has one universal signing system. However, this is not the case. It is believed there is anything between 138 to 300 distinct forms of sign language currently used across the planet.
Why is Sign Language Used?
Sign language is used as another way of communicating. It is a language system used mainly by those who have hearing impairments or are Deaf. Unlike the spoken word, where talking out loud is the main form of interaction, Sign Language uses the below as the primary ways of communicating:
• Body language
• Facial expressions
Why Are There So Many Forms of Sign Language?
Similar to verbal language, ways of communicating develop within cultures and groups of people unique to the area they live in. Therefore, these interactions will be different between communities.
Most sign languages systems don’t align with the spoken languages of the environment and tend to be a separate language system.
A good example is the difference between American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL). Both the spoken languages of these communities are the same; they verbally speak in English. However, sign language differentiates between the two as they are in different areas of the world.
How Sign Language is Developed
It is not unusual for of sign language to advance from a ‘parent sign language’. An example that highlights this can be found in the similarities between ASL and French Sign Language (LSF).
Despite the geographical distance, they bare resemblance due to the introduction of the ‘methodical sign system’ produced in France during the 18th century. Laurent Clerc, a French teacher who was Deaf, shared this system with American Deaf education and created the now named American School for the Deaf.
Similar to accents in spoken language, accents and dialects also exist within sign language. As sign language is more of a secluded form of communication, there tends to be a considerable variation between regions. This is especially prevalent in Britain, between towns and cities across the country.
What Forms of Sign Language are Used in the UK?
Below are the most common forms of sign language used in the UK. As previously mentioned, different regions will slightly differ according to their dialects.
British Sign Language (BSL)
The type of sign language used the most in Britain is British Sign Language, also known as BSL.
Research in 2011 suggested that BSL is used in favour of other sign languages by 145,000 people.
According to the BSL website, it is formed from ‘its own grammatical structure and syntax’. Therefore it is not related to the spoken language of English.
In 2003, BSL was officially regarded as a minority language by the Government after a thorough campaign. As a result, according to the BSL website, awareness for Deaf communications has seen an increase and BSL is recognised in the same way other minority languages are, such as Welsh and Gaelic.
If you would like some more information about British Sign Language, the BSL website provides further guidance and support. You can also discover how you can take a course in BSL.
Influence in Wales
A more recent advancement, a project by Mudiad Meithrin in Wales is prepared to teach BSL to young students through the spoken language of Welsh as opposed to English.
Irish Sign Language
Also known as ISL, Irish Sign Language is mainly used in the Republic of Ireland but is also exercised in Northern Ireland. BSL is also commonly used in Northern Ireland too.
ISL tends to have similarities to French Sign Language but has a bit of inspiration from BSL too. Like BSL, it doesn’t bear a resemblance to spoken English or Irish.
However, an intriguing aspect of ISL is its gender sign language. Due to the separate male and female schools, sign languages may differ between the two.
Sign Supported English (SSE)
Sign Supported English is not a language on its own. The signs used are the same as those used in BSL. However, the signs are expressed in the same order as the spoken language of English is communicated.
The key use of SSE is to accompany the learning process of those who have hearing impairments and are learning English grammar as well as sign language.
Makaton is also used as a support alongside spoken language, for those who may need assistance with communication or learning difficulties. It could help the learning development of someone who has Down Syndrome, a neurological disorder or a language impairment, for example.
If you are interested to discover how outdoor learning can also help child development as an educational tool, take a look at our blog on Why Learning Outside the Classroom is Important.
Calvert Trust Exmoor is an accessible site where we welcome everyone! If you require more information about the adventure breaks we offer and are interested in our programmes for charity holidays for disabled people, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Autism is often referred to as ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is not one, but a range of disorders. Consequently, each individual who has autism has different levels of sensory sensitivity to one another.
The National Autistic Society has provided some helpful tips for those who would like to introduce self-care goals to an autistic person’s routine. In this blog, we aim to share these.
Why Have Goals?
Setting goals, whether big or small, can act as a motivational tool. It is a way to make changes accessible by implementing little lifestyle habits.
Having goals can open up the opportunity to feel a sense of independence in certain aspects of our lives as they may offer us a sense of control. Lots of small goals over time have the potential to lead to changes beyond what we could have ever imagined from the initial journey we set ourselves.
Introducing Self-Care Goals
It is understood that adults who have autism can find the skill of organisation challenging. By using prompts and breaking down tasks to manageable steps, it can help introduce tasks to someone who has an autism as a priority.
This could be things such as :
• Getting dressed
• Brushing teeth
• Brushing hair
Keep Steps Small and Achievable
This is a method which the National Autistic Society has recommended. It is the process which teaches a skill in manageable steps. By breaking down a simple activity, it can help achieve the overall aim.
For example, brushing your teeth:
• First, take the toothbrush
• Next, rinse the toothbrush with a little bit of water (this step may be an area of debate!)
• Then put a ‘pea-size’ amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush
• Then a drop of water (Again, debatable!)
Again, this is suggested by the National Autistic Society. This implements the steps of the task by working from the last step backwards.
Maintain a ‘Sensory Record’
As you try to introduce small goals, it is recommended to keep a diary of the reactions caused by certain tasks or scenarios. By taking note of these occurrences, the process can be reviewed and adapted in the future to accommodate the triggers of unease and uncertainty discovered by these records. Our blog 8 Receptive Toys to Aid Autism may offer some ideas on how to help ease some symptoms of anxiety for those who have autism.
An excellent way to implement things, especially to children, is to use illustrations. By leaving pictures as reminders, it may prompt them to follow the procedure displayed. For example, the National Autistic Society has suggested putting a diagram, or list, in the bathroom which demonstrates the steps when brushing teeth. You can use pictures found online or create your own!
The National Autistic Society suggests that using a mixture of physical, gestural and verbal prompts can help people remember the order they need to accomplish the breakdown of tasks.
As the name suggests, this form of prompt is to accompany the person as you complete the activity.
For example, holding the toothbrush together and squeezing toothpaste onto it.
This is where you can pretend to do the task to prompt them to follow through with the action.
For example, miming brushing your teeth as they brush their teeth in real life.
This is when you remind the person of the next step by saying it to them.
For example, ‘rinse the toothbrush and put it in the holder.’
In order to help schedule these priorities, providing a calendar is a handy tool for people to refer to and act as a reminder.
To encourage people to achieve their goals, you need to keep it motivational! One of the more successful ways of doing this is through praise. No matter what the task, even if it may seem very minimum, an achievement is an achievement and should be received with lots of praise.
By knowing what the person appreciates, you can make the encouragement purposeful to the individual. This may be through verbal praise or a small gift, for example!
If there is ever a decline in looking after oneself, this could be a sign of some underlying issues concerning their mental health. This could be anything from anxiety or depression to forms of OCD.
If you feel this may be the case, the National Autistic Society recommends contacting the Autism Helpline, where they can direct you further on the most suitable procedures to take.
Autism Helpline Number: 0808 800 4104
They are available:
• Monday to Thursday 10 am-4 pm
• Friday 9 am-3 pm
Hopefully, the tips mentioned in this blog will offer some helpful pointers in accomplishing self-care goals! If you have any other recommendations, we would love to hear about them on our social media channels!
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we love to encourage all our guests to achieve their ambitions and intend to help those who want to set goals while staying with us.
We provide daily timetables to ensure there is a set routine for our guests. We also encourage the use of our social areas, where guests can meet and support one another before and after sessions. We have great pride in all our professionally certified instructors, who encourage independence when supervising activities by using physical, gestural and verbal prompts.
If you would like more information about the Devon activity breaks we offer and are interested in booking a holiday with us, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.