Explorers is a chance for disabled girls to experience activities they may not have tried before, in company with their peers. Fun activities on site include archery, trampolining (if the doctor agrees), swimming, craft and cook-outs. We also have outings to other activities like shopping, boating, bowling and ice-skating. Helpers and staff are here to make sure you have as much fun as possible – do try something new, because at Explorers you can! All our activities are chosen to be suitable for all our campers, regardless of ability or disability. There are also camp duties for everyone to take part in – cooking, cleaning, washing-up and laying tables. Unlike school trips, Explorers doesn’t have paid staff – in fact we’ve all paid to come here, so everyone helps with the chores and enjoys the activities together.
Campers have one or two helpers of around their own age who are ‘buddied up’ with them to make sure their care needs are met, sometimes sharing one of the helpers with another camper in a small group of 4 or 5. We also have lots of adult staff, including a nurse – if campers experience a problem, they can speak to the patrol leader, our camp leader Janet, or any adult. One of the unique things about the Explorers experience is peers working together in both activities and personal care – this can be a new experience on both sides! Your personal care needs will be met by someone your own age, but you will both have support from staff like the nurse, Sarah, who will distribute medication and help train your helper in using any unfamiliar equipment. Your helper will need to understand how best to help you, which means you taking responsibility for looking after yourself and letting them know how to help. Some girls also bring a care plan if they find it hard to communicate the complexities of their needs, this can be a reference for helpers beginning to understand how to enable you to make your wishes known.If you have any problems with your care or communicating with your helper, experienced helpers and staff are always on hand to help.
It may sound silly, but a top tip can be to try and explain your care step-by-step to a helper for a few days at home – it can be surprising how many things you don’t really pay attention to when you are in your normal routine and busy chatting!
Explorers camp is organised by splitting the camp into smaller teams called “patrols” – this is your team for the week and you will work and sleep together. Don’t worry, though – there is plenty of time to socialise with everyone else on camp! We do ask campers to remember that the helper has also paid to come to Woodlarks, and even between friends, “please” and “thank you” are good to hear. You and your helper will be buddies, that means that you will both be looking out for each other. Often helpers find themselves busy running around – you may find your helper gets quite tired, and you can help them by encouraging them to take some time out in “rest hour” (after lunch). It can be quite intense for both of you to be together for so much time and working so closely – sometimes taking time to be with other friends and experience different parts of camp can help you both to get some space and a fresh dose of calm and patience as the week goes on. Rest hour is also a great opportunity for campers (particularly wheelchair users) to lie down and rest their backs, chill out, and enjoy the company of their new friends.
At Explorers you will be encouraged to be as independent as possible and to make your own choices about your experience of camp – that might be choosing which activity to do in the afternoon, where to go for a cookout lunch, or how you want your care to be managed. If you are a returning camper, you may be given the opportunity to become a Patrol Leader. There are two Patrol Leaders in each group and they help make sure that everyone in their patrol is in the right place at the right time, joins in with both the activities and the chores, and (most importantly!) is having a really great time. If you have a problem, your Patrol Leader will be one of your first ports of call and can always advise if you or your helper are unsure about anything.
We want to ensure that everyone at Explorers is safe and happy. If you have any problems or you are told something that worries you then please speak to one of our staff. They will listen and offer any support or advice that they can.