Camps for Parents Too?

Written by Billie Thaw


At the start of The Oakes, we knew about other centres who offered parent-child camps but we were not sure if they were right for us.

The main reason for hesitation was that we have always been focused on our main aims: to share the Christian message with 8-18s and to encourage young Christians in their faith in the context of a great holiday. Obviously, on a parent-child camp half the guests would be over 18!

Yet as our own children started to grow, we recognised just how important it is for children to be able to have conversations about God with their parents.

We realised what an amazing opportunity an Oakes camp could provide for children and their parents to learn and talk together about spiritual things whilst enjoying a fun and exciting programme of activities and creating memories that would hopefully last a lifetime.

So, a few years ago, we decided to introduce our first Dads and Lads weekend. The feedback was very positive and we have never looked back.

The next year, we ran a Mums & Daughters camp, too, and soon after, we added a second weekend for older girls. These camps have grown to become some of our most popular weekends and they often fill up well in advance.

As time went on, we became aware that there were a number of family situations which needed an alternative. For example, Dads who would like to bring their daughters, Mums who would like to bring their sons, and children who did not feel they were ready to stay away from home overnight.

To accommodate these variations, earlier this year we decided to try our first Family Camp. Any combination of parents and children were welcome and the camp ran from Saturday 9am – 9pm and Sunday 9am – 4pm. The camp exceeded our expectations and was very well received.

A positive spin off from parent-child camps has been that many adults who have visited with their children have now become our most enthusiastic ambassadors, coming back year after year and encouraging their friends, family and even their local schools to visit!

If you have never been on a parent-child camp, why not give it a go? It will certainly be a weekend to remember!

Daisy and Bethany at the ropes course

When I had the opportunity to attend an Oakes family camp with my eldest, Bethany, it was an easy decision. I knew I wouldn’t regret investing in the spiritual life of my daughter.

Not only did I enjoy seeing her in a different environment, but I had a special opportunity to spend time with her on her own. We laughed with each other on the ropes course, improved our skills with the remote control cars and tried things outside our comfort zones. Most of all, it was fantastic to talk about spiritual things together during discussion times in the Main Event meetings.

I am grateful for The Oakes and the amazing team who run such fun and energetic camps. My daughter and I enjoyed a spiritually enriching weekend which we will both remember for years to come.

Daisy Holland (Family Camp)

Daniel building a cardboard castle

I can honestly say the family camp was FANTASTIC! If you’re worried that your age may reduce your ability to keep up with your child, fear not! There were activities to cater for all tastes and abilities.

Daniel and I thoroughly enjoyed archery and making cardboard castles. The talks by Rob were absolutely fabulous and engaging. It was especially encouraging for me to wander around a place I had lived and worked at nearly 20 years ago (being The Oakes Cook 1999-2003) reminiscing and seeing how it has grown and developed.

So, ever thought about stepping your toe into your child’s Oakes holiday? Then do it! You won’t regret it! You’ll have a blast whether you bring a son or a daughter as a mother or a father. The staff are warm, welcoming and energetic, the food fabulous (as always!!) and you get to sleep in either your own bed or a local hotel bed! What could be better! Get booked in for next year and I’ll see you there!!

Rachel Hardy (Family Camp)

Andy and Zack on the Mudder

Zack and I enjoyed an Oakes family camp in February 2018. Dads & lads camps had been recommended to us by a number of people so we had been looking forward to going to The Oakes for some time. From my point of view, I was hoping for a fun couple of days which would involve spending positive time with my son, maybe creating some good memories, and having the chance to chat easily about Christian things. I’d say it was a success on all counts.

The activities were great fun and there was a good balance between exciting outdoor activities like the Mudder and (slightly!) calmer inside games like snakes & ladders round the house and the murder mystery. In terms of the Main Event meeting times the big “1” that Rob had at the front during one of the meetings made an impression and helped Zack register the question “is Jesus number one in my life?” He also liked the puppet! I particularly appreciated the prompt to chat through the teaching from Luke together towards the end of the camp – walking round the grounds talking naturally about Jesus was great.

A warm, friendly atmosphere of fun where you’re inspired and actively encouraged to chat to your child about the gospel – which, let’s face it, is something that’s SO important it’s often missed out of daily conversation. I can thoroughly recommend an Oakes family camp!

Andy Stimson (Family Camp)

Last year my daughter Milly had booked into a half term camp at The Oakes. The night before the camp we realised we couldn’t make it and, at the very last minute, The Oakes amazingly swapped us on to the Mothers and Daughters camp. I was reluctant about going as I am not particularly into all the outdoor activities and I was worried we’d feel left out, as we knew literally no-one. I needn’t have worried. From the moment we arrived at The Oakes we could not have been made to feel more welcome.

When the other mums in my dorm arrived it was amazing. We all had girls of a similar age so we had lots in common to discuss. We were all so pleased to be away with our precious daughters and to journey with them into the Bible more and have fun together. In the prayer time during the first morning Bible study we opened up to each about the challenges and highs and lows of raising teenage girls and trying to help them to find a lasting relationship with Jesus. It was a really precious time of prayer and changed the tone of the whole weekend. We chatted and chatted and prayed for each other and for our daughters and I made friends I am still in touch with.

The teaching was really excellent. Although aimed at the girls’ age group, I was surprised by how much of the talk was challenging and appropriate to me, too. I also really enjoyed the quiet times where we were given a Bible study to do with our daughters as a pair. This was a really precious time and something we don’t often make time for at home. Through answering the questions together we talked about things that we wouldn’t otherwise have talked about.

Milly and I enjoyed the weekend so much that we came back this year and we’d spoken so highly about our camp the year before that seven friends of ours booked in and came with their daughters too. It was fun to come in a big group.

I would thoroughly recommend the Mothers and Daughters weekend. It is such a brilliant way of carving out a whole weekend of quality God time with our daughters in our busy lives. Time with God together with your daughter. Time with other Mums. Time for fun. Time for Reflection, relaxation and relationships.

Fiona Reilly (Mums & Daughters: 11-15s)

Oakes News (July 2018)

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