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.
There is an abundance of things to do in North Devon, throughout the year.
Whether you are in the area for a day, are looking for holiday inspiration, or are planning on staying at the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre for a residential activity break, browse our guide about what to do in North Devon and Exmoor.
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park is a stunning place to spend time. The picturesque landscape consists of rolling moorland and wooded areas, home of roaming ponies, Red Deer and postcard-worthy beauty spots.
Exmoor is one of the smallest national parks in the UK, so the area is easy to explore in a short time on foot and by car.
Whilst exploring, it is likely Exmoor ponies will make an appearance. These adorable and distinctive animals are endangered, so they are well looked after despite roaming free. Ponies can be seen on the moors, often crossing the roads as they please.
We recommend visiting these places to experience what Exmoor has to offer…
Right beside the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, Wistlandpound Reservoir may be just outside the national park, but it is a popular attraction for those who enjoy walking through nature. The accessible paths zig-zag their way around the water and through woods. Whatever the time of year or weather, this is a beautiful place to escape the real world for a few hours.
In the middle of a valley, lies a historic clapper bridge – made of large stone slabs and boulders. At 55 meters long, Tarr Steps is the longest bridge of its type in Britain, possibly dating back to the Bronze Age. The bridge forms a part of a short circular walk through the wooded valley and along the riverbanks. It’s a popular location and walking across the bridge is a must-do. Technically Tarr Steps is in Somerset, but it’s not far from North Devon so we’ll include in our list of things to do.
Similar to Tarr Steps, Watersmeet is a place to see rapid rivers at the bottom of a valley. Named due to its location where two rivers meet, there are waterfalls and paths along the sides of the river, plus routes around the surrounding area. The river is home to otters and salmon, or look inland for Red Deer, herons, wood warblers and jays. There is also a National Trust tearoom, providing a place to relax amongst the surrounding nature.
Valley of Rocks
Found near the village of Lynton along the Exmoor coastline, the Valley of Rocks is a well-known tourist destination for families and walkers who enjoy the stunning views. The dry valley is home of feral goats that roam the steep hills and the stone towers that rise sharply into the sky. Paths loop around the area, providing views of the sea and cliffs that make for stunning photographs.
Great Hangman – England’s highest cliff
Found near Combe Martin in North Devon, the highest cliff in England is in Exmoor. Combe Martin is a good place to park (just 10 minutes from Calvert Trust Exmoor) before walking along the coast and up to the height of 1,044 feet. The views of the surrounding moors and cliffs are worth the hike up the sometimes tricky incline.
The highest point on Exmoor and the second-highest point in southern England, Dunkery Beacon is 1,704 feet above sea level. On a sunny day, it’s possible to see the Bristol and English Channels, the Brecon Beacons in Wales, Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, Dartmoor in Devon and even Cleeve Hill which is nearly 90 miles away in Gloucestershire. The beacon is found in the remote heart of Exmoor, surrounded by barren but beautiful moors – luckily the car park is just half a mile away from the peak.
Popular North Devon Tourist Attractions
North Devon is home to many family-friendly attractions, which are perfect for quick visits or complete days out.
Here are some top North Devon places that are worth a visit…
Quince Honey Farm
The home of honey and bees, Quince Honey Farm is 20 minutes from the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, in South Molton. This small and quaint family attraction provides beekeeping courses and experiences, guide tours, honey tasting, candle rolling, critter encounters for children and more. There’s also a play area and a restaurant to round your visit off.
This conservation zoo is home to a range of animals such as wolves, cheetahs, African wild dogs, bugs and snakes, monkeys, kangaroos, and many varieties of cats including the famous ‘Exmoor Beast’ – black leopards!
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
Another family-friendly zoo, with the added twist of electronic dinosaurs. There is also an indoor soft play area for younger children. Animals include lions, penguins, sea lions (who do daily shows), wolves, monkeys, Amur Leopards and more.
Arlington Court is a National Trust property with a historic house, formal gardens, a carriage museum and acres of land to explore. The grounds are open all year round for walkers, with paths that go through forests, past lakes, and around fields where deer are known to forage.
The Big Sheep and The Milky Way Adventure Parks
These two theme-park type attractions are each a day out for all ages. They both have indoor and outdoor play areas, rides, live shows, games, and all-round family entertainment.
A visit to The Big Sheep includes cuddly animals and fun sheep racing!
Whilst The Milky Way has a space theme with bumper cars and a new ninja family area.
The village of Clovelly is unique, as it’s a working fishing village with no cars and historic cobbled streets that tumble down the hill to the harbour. A trip here starts at the visitor centre, before walking through time down the main path, past old houses, shops and museums to the sea below. Donkeys once pulled carts up the hill, but these days the donkeys enjoy the easy life, living in the stables and meeting passers-by.
Marwood Hill Garden – Tucked away in a quiet valley near Barnstaple, the 20-acre garden at Marwood is made up of three ponds surrounded by a collection of plants and trees, a lovely haven to relax and enjoy nature.
RHS Rosemoor – Just outside Torrington is the RHS Garden Rosemoor, a year-round attraction for the whole family. There are beautiful formal and informal flowerbeds and plantings, separated into many different gardens, alongside woodlands and meadows.
Castle Hill Gardens – Home to the 15th generation of the same family, Castle Hill is a grand building that dominates the hill it sits on. The 50 acres of gardens and parklands that surround it are open to the public, made up of woodland and formal gardens brought together by the family since 1730.
Towns and Villages to Explore and Shop
From small and quaint villages to large bustling towns, you’ll find a friendly place to spend time wherever you go in North Devon. We’ve listed just a few of the most popular here, but there are many more to be found, and some hidden gems tucked away…
Lynton and Lynmouth – Lynton is perched at the top of a hill whilst Lynmouth sits below at the bottom, connected by a 130-year-old Cliff Railway – the world’s highest and steepest water-powered railway. Lynmouth has a stone beach with a dramatic coastline and seaside town feel.
South Molton – known as the gateway to Exmoor, South Molton is a small and historic market town.
Barnstaple – the unofficial ‘capital’ of North Devon, Barnstaple is the place to shop popular high-street brands and independent retailers.
Ilfracombe and Verity – the seaside town of Ilfracombe has a little bit of everything; shops and restaurants, family attractions, striking coastal views, rock pools and beaches. The picturesque harbour is the focal point of the town, where a historical chapel overlooks the modern statue of Verity by Damien Hurst – the second tallest statue in the UK.
The North Devon beaches are always worth a visit, at whatever time of year. They are popular because of good surf, long golden sandy beaches and the stunning surrounding countryside. Some dominate the landscape. Whilst others are small, secret and hidden away.
Looking for a long sunny day on the beach? Or want to blow the cobwebs away with a walk by the sea during the winter months? These are some of the beaches you could visit…
Saunton Sands is a classic beach, with three and a half miles of sand that disappear into the distance, blue seas and dramatic dunes. Facilities include a large car park, café and beach shop for a full day out. Lifeguards are on duty for most of the year, making it a safe place to swim, surf or play on the beach.
Woolacombe beach is multi-award winning. Like Saunton Sands, there is a long expanse of sand and sea, with lifeguards, shops and facilities. The beach is backed by the village of Woolacombe, which has additional shops and restaurants.
Again, Croyde is a sandy beach, popular with surfers and sunbathers alike. This beach is perfect for rock-pooling as it’s set in a small bay, with rocks on either side of the sand. Facilities are on site, with lifeguards in summer. Croyde village is nearby, with coastal walks to the village and around the bay.
Now for something different. Broad Sands is not a large and well-known beach, it’s a secret gem that many locals wish to keep to themselves. Broad Sands is a small cove hidden on the coast of Exmoor, and it’s an adventure to get to. It’s not reachable by road, but by parking at the top of the cliff and taking a path and 200 steps down to the sand. The path goes through woods and offers spectacular views. Once at the sand, the beach is quiet, remote, picturesque, and perfect for a swim.
Ilfracombe Tunnels Beaches
Found in the town of Ilfracombe, the Tunnels Beaches are unique. Originally a historic Victoria bathing bath, the shingle beach has a ringed rock formation that creates a natural swimming pool, with the rocks separating the still water from the sea. To get to the beach requires walking through the cliff, using the large hand-carved tunnel. The pool is a calm place to swim. Tunnels Beaches has Blue Flag beach status and the Quality Coast Award. There is also a lifeguard on duty, and it’s been listed as the safest beach in North Devon.
We’ve summarised just some of the many things to do in North Devon, there are plenty more places and attractions to be discovered.
If you would like to visit and need accessible accommodation in North Devon, enjoy an activity break at Calvert Trust Exmoor. Stay for a weekend, Monday to Friday, or for seven days and you’ll have time to visit some of the places we’ve mentioned, in between doing exciting activities.
Phone 01598 763221 for more details and to book. We look forward to welcoming you in for a North Devon break soon.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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?
Having fun isn’t only possible in the sun! Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer an array of accessible, outdoor adventure activities in Devon which can be enjoyed come rain or shine. Whatever the weather, our activities will continue as long as our instructors feel they are safe. It is worth noting that the water activities we provide are only available between the months of April and October. With the incentive of staying dry in mind, we have selected a few of our indoor based activities as well as those which do not depend on good weather that you can expect to experience while staying with us. Calvert Trust Exmoor is an accessible site that provides adventure activities for people of all capabilities, ages, experience and confidence levels.
The Giant Swing
Intending to improve self-belief, the giant swing is a fun activity which has been implemented as a sensory experience for all to enjoy. Situated in our indoor activity centre, our adaptive harnesses and supports can be customised for each individual and fulfil any requirements they may need. It’s up to you how high you would like to go. Just pull the release when you feel ready and away you go! If you would like to push yourself, we can heighten the hoist, or if you would like a relaxed swing, we will always make sure you feel safe and secure.
The Crate Stack Challenge
An excellent activity which can be used to bring together and improve the relationships between groups and school communities. It is a fantastic experience that can test problem-solving abilities and as a result, increase feelings of self-confidence upon completion. It is an activity which can be accessed by all, including wheelchair users.
Our horse-riding sessions are only available on weekdays unless we have organised one of our ever-popular horse weekends. Our courses encompass extra activities such as learning to communicate with horses and understanding the behaviours of the animal. Stable management is also a possibility if guests would like a closer experience with the horses. It is the opportunity to groom, tack up and muck out as well as completing horse agility sessions. For children who are unable to support themselves, we can organise a tandem ride which is the arrangement of a member of staff sitting behind a child and acting as spinal support. For those who are unable to horse ride due to specific medical reasons, carriage riding is an alternative activity that we can provide.
Here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor site, our centre has many facilities to enjoy, including an indoor swimming pool. Fitted with specialist equipment, each person of any capacity or with any condition can access the pool. Heated to a minimum temperature of 30 degrees, you can enjoy being in the water without any chance of feeling cold. Complete with a Jacuzzi, it is a lovely way to spend some leisure time while staying at our accessible site.
While this isn’t an indoor activity, why be concerned about the rain when you are already in the sea? Surfing is a challenging but fulfilling sport which can be enjoyed in the sun or accompanied by rain. Our Calvert Trust Exmoor site is in proud partnership with both Surf South West and the Wave Project, and we love including surfing as an accessible activity for our guests. Our new one to one lessons are a welcome introduction and provide even further learning opportunities than our usual sessions of ten guests to one instructor. Surfing can be a fantastic sport for those with disabilities, for more information, take a look at our previous blog.
After an exciting day challenging yourself in a fun and safe setting with our qualified instructors, our beautiful site has many areas you can enjoy and unwind in. Our courtyard is a peaceful place to sit back and reflect on the day. The Barn bar is a hub for socialising and a great place to share your stories from the day. The games room is available for guests entertainment, and the TV room is a place to relax for a bit. Our five-star accommodation is complete with free Wi-FI in all communal areas if you would like to report back home about your fun-filled day.
If you would like to know more about the adventure breaks we offer, including our themed breaks, and would like some guidance on the booking process, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to ring us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Five Benefits of Surfing for People with a Disability
Surfing is a highly active sport that requires the focus of both mind and body. Here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, we believe everyone should have a chance to experience and enjoy such a fun sport. Our accessible site is idyllically located near the beautiful North Devon coastal village of Croyde, where we offer surfing as an offsite activity. We are in proud partnership with both Surf South West and the Wave Project and are excited to include surfing into our current list of accessible activities. The lessons will be a step above our regular sessions, and instead of having ten people to one instructor, one to one sessions will be available for our guests.
A dedicated charity to surf therapy, an impressive 2239 young people have been involved in Wave Project courses to date. The Wave Project believes that surfing can help children and adults with disabilities, mainly by improving their feelings of anxiousness through surfing. In this article, we would like to explore how surfing benefits those who attend the sessions.
Surf Therapy Research
As a relatively recent breakthrough, surf therapy has not been thoroughly researched. However, there have been a couple of examples such as the University of Rhode Island’s study on the ‘Benefits of Surfing for Children with Disabilities: A Pilot Study’ in 2012. The study discusses how limited participation in physical activities has a wide range of adverse effects, including increased obesity and secondary health problems down the line. It also touches on the psychological impact of not completing activities for people with a disability. Our article will go on to discuss its findings on why surfing should be used to combat this.
The Wave Project also produces a yearly evaluation, which is based on the completion of questionnaires answered by participants before and after they attend a surf session, focussing on feelings of self-belief. It also advocates that providing people with disabilities the access to complete exciting and challenging activities should be wholeheartedly encouraged for both the positive mental and physical implications it can have, as our article will explore.
It Can Improve Physical Fitness
Surfing is widely acknowledged as an intense form of exercise which involves healthy levels of aerobic activity. The 2012 study by the University of Rhode Island found that overall, surfing improved the physical wellbeing of the participants, especially in terms of their upper-body strength and their levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The reference to cardiorespiratory fitness is especially relevant to children who have physical disabilities, as it is understood that it is generally relatively low compared to those children who do not have disabilities. As a result, the study suggests that surfing is beneficial for the physical improvement for those who have disabilities.
It Offers Dedicated One to One Time
An essential part of the surf therapy sessions at the Wave Project is to ensure each attendee is looked after in a one to one environment. Where this arrangement understandably assists in health and safety precautions, it also helps to form trusting relationships between the attendees and the dedicated volunteers. One to one time with the Wave Project volunteers has been described as one of the most meaningful parts of the experience by the children who attend the surf therapy sessions with the charity. The surf therapy experience can feel enriched due to the high level of interactive instructing devoted to the children. Furthermore, it can limit distractions as outside pressures are contained in a one to one environment. This set up also encourages attendees to rely on themselves to achieve the activity under the supervision of volunteers. As a result, it may enhance feelings of independence due to the encouragement while being in a stable and committed environment.
It Provides Social Inclusion
The 2018 Wave Project Evaluation also emphasises the feeling of social inclusion which has emerged from the network of people attending the sessions. It is a sense of community that not only applies to the participants who complete the therapy but also their parents, carers and the volunteers. Some of the volunteers initially participated at the Wave Project as attendees themselves and with this empathy in mind, have successfully created an incredibly welcoming and understanding environment. Furthermore, because of the energetic nature of the activity, the friendship between instructor and child can blossom, and children don’t feel as distant as they may do in a school environment, for example.
It Supports Feelings of Confidence and Self Belief
Both research by the University of Rhode Island and the 2018 Wave Project Evaluation suggests how taking part in an organised activity has the ability to improve self-esteem. The Wave Project Evaluation in particular, found that the relationship formed between child and volunteer encouraged the sense of belonging, and therefore produced the feeling of acceptance. These feelings are incredibly important in improving a person’s self-esteem and personal perception. By sparking these feelings towards oneself, confidence can improve, and the desire to challenge oneself is boosted.
It Provides a Challenging but Fun Experience
Surfing is a truly unique sport, and teaches so many skills including balance, as well as furthering water knowledge. The Wave project discloses different stories in their Report, which emphasises the fascination and pride participants feel when completing a session. One parent from Devon describes how their child goes to school feeling elated by the fact they surf and other classmates are not familiar with the sport.
For inspiration on accessible holidays in Devon, take a look at the dedicated adventure breaks we provide. If your child is already attending an activity break, and you would like some guidance on how to get your child excited for a residential trip, take a look at our blog!