Save Childhood Movement: Let’s give children back real childhood

The Guardian newspaper recently posted an article called “Why are British Kids So Unhappy” (27 June 2012), in which it highlighted the Save Childhood Movement which has been set up in response to many worrying statistics about the wellbeing of Britains children.

For example, the article highlighted that Unicef published a table in 2007 that revealed the UK’s children were the unhappiest in the industrialised world, featuring at the bottom of a list of 21 economically advanced countries and that “only 40% of UK 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds found their peers “kind and helpful” and that “earlier this year, the Children’s Society found that at any given moment, one in 11 children in the UK aged between eight and 15 have a low sense of wellbeing. And according to the ONS, one in 10 UK children aged between five and 16 has a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder”

The Summer Camps Trust shares the ambition of the Save Childhood Movement in that it seeks to make children’s lives better and happier.

Summer Camps bring together children and young people from different schools, different backgrounds and different parts of Britain to spend a relaxed, active and happy holiday week in a mansion or residential centre in a country setting.

Away from television, computers and commercial pressures, they play games of all kinds, explore the countryside, sing songs, make things, have stories around the fire, act, dance, swim, go on outings and enjoy the outdoors. Young people who have never met and who have come from very diverse backgrounds become a happy family-like community of friends in the space of a week. In the process they gain self-confidence, social skills and a positive outlook on life.

We do not claim that attending well-run Summer Camps will solve all problems for all children, but we do claim that young people who take part go away enriched, happier, with new life skills ad new insights which help them to be more positive and more confident as they grow up. Moreover, young people will be influenced for the better by experiencing a happy community life making new friends from all different backgrounds and will return home seeing their own potential contribution to society in a new light.

We know this because of the many, many pages of positive feedback received from Young People and their Parents, a small selection of which is included below:

Feedback from young people:

“Summer Camps give me an experience I don’t get anywhere else. You can just be yourself and there isn’t any day to day stress.”- Imogen, aged 14

“I think Summer Camps really allow the best in people to come out and everyone who goes on them gets changed for the better.” – Leo, aged 15

“I have done so much in the space of one week. This was my fifth year and the magic hasn’t stopped.” – Lauren, aged 16

“I had the time of my life and didn’t miss home at all. By the end of the week I was really good friends with everyone there” – Jessica, aged 13

“We still sing the songs now, forty years later. My brother, my sister and I had such good times that have stayed with us ever since. The experience of mixing with other children with completely different backgrounds and having such fun was life-changing and thoroughly exciting” – Joanne, aged fifty-something.

Feedback from parents:

“It was really a rite of passage for him. He came back from it a far more self-assured and contented person” – Mrs K, Suffolk

“He has been talking about it ever since. He particularly enjoyed the wonderful imaginative games and the opportunity to do drama and music. I was delighted there are still people who value these kinds of activity and can organise them so well.” – Mrs M, London

“I was dreading him going as he has dyspraxia and sometimes struggles with confidence and social skills. He came back a different boy, full of confidence and maturity” – Mrs A, Bedford

“I love the way my urban teenager happily abandons Facebook and make-up for the simple pleasures of games, singing, handicrafts and the great outdoors. Every year I worry she will have outgrown Summer Camps but every year she returns wanting to go again. Great stuff!” – Mrs B, London

Feedback from summer camp staff:

“To see a child grow in a week and leave brimming with self-confidence, full of songs and games, is the one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced. Being away from modern society’s trials and imperfections means that all children have to worry about is being children” – Rob, student

“I don’t think I have ever seen so many happy, happy people in one place, enjoying each other’s company before” – Katie, Teacher.

Chris Green, The Summer Camps Trust