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Children get tough with parents

On January 19th, 13 families came together on a sunny, but cold, winter morning to participate in an enrichment day organised by Family Focus Headstart Kent in partnership with youth engagement company Challenger Troop CIC at their outdoor training centre at Highsted, Sittingbourne in Kent.

The families were not sure what to expect – they had been told to wear footwear and clothing appropriate to the outdoors, that there would be challenges, some of which would be physical, but that they would all have to work together as a group and within their family unit to complete a number of tasks under the instruction of Challenger Troop’s ex-military instructors.

Following a briefing session and an opportunity to dress in army jackets, trousers and waterproofs, the families headed over to the military-style obstacle course, comprising a series of challenges designed to test both mental and physical strength. In teams, they had to climb over, crawl under, balance, jump, hang and swing their way through the obstacles – and it was against the clock. Challenger Troop Instructor Scott Parkin said “the obstacle course was clearly a challenge for many of the parents, but with the support of their children, they all made it across.”

After completing the obstacle course one mum was overheard saying, “I have a real feeling of achievement”, to which her daughter replied, “I am so proud of you Mum”.

Following the physical activities of the morning, it was time to prepare lunch – but this was not just cheese and pickle in a sandwich with a drink! This was complete wild food preparation from scratch, including building the fire over which to cook the meal. Children had a basic fire-lighting session, whilst parents learned how to skin and prepare rabbit ready for a stir-fry. “I don’t cook, so this is really interesting for me, if my husband could see me now,” commented one mum.

Once both groups were confident in their skills, children showed their parents how to build and light a fire and prepare it ready for cooking. Then, together, they cooked the meal before all sitting down to enjoy the food they had prepared as a family unit.

Outdoor cooking

After lunch and clear-up it was time for a period of reflection on what they had learnt, both about themselves and each other, before an awards ceremony to round off the day. As an observer listening in to comments there was a great deal of mutual respect and a lot of comments like “I’m so proud of you, I didn’t know you could do that…”

Family Focus Group Facilitator Nicola Farrell said “It’s great to see the parents and children working so well together, building confidence and raising self-esteem. It’s just as important for children to see their parents achieve as it is for the parents to see their children do so. It creates a longer-lasting impact on the child if they believe that they played a part in helping their parents – that’s why I am so pleased to see so much encouragement and feelings of pride here today.”

Teamwork and working together is a huge factor in home living, from tidying bedrooms so they can be cleaned, through clearing out rubbish and empting bins, to laying the table ready for dinner. “If chores are shared, there is more time for fun stuff” said one of the young participants.

“Some of the parents commented to me that they don’t get to spend very much time with their children doing activities without the pressure of day-to-day household jobs. I am delighted that today was such a success, with each family working together as an effective team. It is evident that experiencing and facing their challenges together as a parent and child has enhanced their mutual respect and enjoyment of each other as a family. We look forward to working with more families in the future.” said Simon Dean, CEO Challenger Troop.

“I’ve felt like my knees were gonna bend back and snap my legs in half and my stomach muscles, omg, it it’s definitely made me think about losing a few pounds and getting fitter,” commented one of the mums.

To find out more about our Parent Engagement Days and work with Community Partners, please click here

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Posted: 24, February, 2016
by Challenger Troop

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"Outdoor learning is giving them back their childhood wonder and curiosity at new things, allowing them to experience the marvel of discovery and the learning that comes from taking risks"

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