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News from The Boathouse Youth

Biggest BHY Summer Camp, ever!

Aerial Shot of The BHY’s Summer Camp 2022 at Bibby’s Farm Scout Activity Centre.

The Boathouse Youth has delivered its Holiday Activity & Food Programme in partnership with Blackpool Council once again during July and August 2022 with an incredible 523 different children and young people getting involved. Overall, the programme included Holiday Club delivery at five different sites across Blackpool; almost 30 off-site day-trips; a dedicated provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities; and a 15-night residential camping experience. 

Almost 150 children and young people benefited from one of three week-long camping experiences at Bibby’s Farm Scout Activity Centre in Chorley. Being away from home overnight can often be a daunting experience, but it’s great for boosting confidence and developing resilience. During the day, a jam-packed programme of activities kept all the participants active, engaged and learning new skills. During the evenings we took full advantage of the beautiful night-skies that nature provides.

We are passionate believers in the importance of strong relationships between children and trusted-adults. Residential experiences provide the opportunity for the natural formation of these relationships and, in the words of one young person, “The staff at the Boathouse are just there, when you’ve got no-one else to talk to, they are just there”. Many members of Team BHY are former beneficiaries of the charity with lived-experience of the issues facing today’s members. This natural ability to relate, combined with the professional guidance provided by management, makes for a superb Youth Work team who are truly adored by our youngsters. 

There’s something quite magical about camping once the sun has set. The glow of the lights and the warmth of the fire bring a special homely comfort. The primary sleeping accommodation for young people were our BCT Task Force Tents, which were shared by groups of 3 to 4. However, in addition to this we also offered every young person the unique opportunity to sleep in a hammock and enjoy an experience in the woods, suspended between two trees sheltered only by a tarpaulin.

Every evening a campfire would be lit for the purposes of making hot chocolate, cooking muffins in a dutch oven and toasting marshmallows – absolutely delicious! This experience was truly something magical and nothing like the group had ever experienced before. The telling of ghost stories and sharing of real-life experiences amongst the group help to develop new friendships and strengthen existing ones. 

Where possible the children are required to take responsibility for themselves. This included regular tent-inspections to ensure that all kit was neatly stowed and sleeping accommodation kept clean; assisting with daily duties such as emptying the bins and disposing of rubbish; and ensuring that all the dishes were washed and dried after mealtimes. 

Kayleigh Smith, our Universal Programme Manager, who project-led the camping residential said:

“It’s good for the kids to come and experience these kind of residentials, because for a lot of them it is their only holiday; their only chance to get out of Blackpool. They become more adventurous, they’re not as scared as they thought they were and they embrace their vulnerabilities whilst learning to manage them!”.

The BHY Summer Camp 2022 is featured heavily in the ’Story of our Summer 2022’ video embedded below. Here you can listen to the personal testimonies of children, young people and youth workers whose lives have been positively impacted by the experiences our charity offers.

Laurance Hancock, our CEO reflected with these thoughts:

“We live in a time when the behaviour of young people is constantly in the media spotlight. Anti-social behaviour such as drugs, knife-crime and gang-culture are all becoming more prevalent issues. I repeatedly hear youth agencies talk a lot about the need to work with ”hard to reach teenagers” – and I often wonder if the irony escapes them. ”Hard to reach teenagers” are created by society failing to find positive ways of engaging with them from an earlier age. This is where The Boathouse Youth is different. We focus on the building of positive relationships with children from as early as 5-years-old to prevent them from becoming part of that society-defined category. It’s experiences like this that make all the difference. It’s ordinary magic. Our teenagers aren’t hard to reach, because we reached them years ago, and even when we leave them, the impact of our work remains etched on their lives.”

Our camping field once our work is complete, representing the impact we make.

A huge thanks goes to the staff making the residential possible, and also the wonderful army of volunteers who helped set-up, pack-away and with some operational functions during the process. 

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