Last August five-year-old Harriet and I engaged in some “activity days” while on holiday. I had fond hopes of being able to watch from the sidelines, offering an encouraging thumbs up as required. No such luck – I was expected to join in as well. And I was far from within my comfort zone.
As most of the activities involved heights this presented a bit of a problem for me. They were also very challenging for a five-year-old. However, the staff was excellent at helping and encouraging. Some things like the trapeze were just too much for both of us but Harriet was so much better than I at the climbing wall. However the huge swing and the zip wire were achievable mainly because they required no skill!
There were two disappointments – Harriet was too young for the quad-biking and was too small for the smallest mountain bike (as were many others even older than her).
However, Harriet loves swimming so we made the best use of the pool and when it rained… Harriet and I had the pool to ourselves. So with two lifeguards watching and me swimming by her side Harriet managed to swim the length of the pool – a first for her. A very special, high five moment.
Going to an activity centre means you do get to try out things that you might not have even thought of doing. Raft-building was one such activity that I actually rather enjoyed (although I had to compete with a couple of alpha males!). Harriet was not so impressed and chose to join the instructor and cruise in a canoe.
One of the most important considerations is having the correct clothes and shoes – all the equipment was provided by the centre. Raft-building meant getting your feet wet so having an extra pair of trainers was essential. The special shoes I was testing out were perfect as they dried in seconds with a quick wipe over.
Our best time was taking an extra archery class. Neither of us had shone in the group activity, but with a bit of one-to-one coaching, we both found we could hit the target with much more accuracy – so much so that a few bull’s eyes were recorded. Cause for mutual back-slapping and more high fives.
Signing up for a day at an activity centre gives families the opportunity to relax and learn or try out new skills together. No Wi-Fi or screen activity means more time to actually chat (and have a hug or two). And at the end of an exhausting but exhilarating day you can relive your achievements, or in my case be teased about my fear of heights, over supper before gratefully falling into a comfy bed to dream of conquering the trapeze!
We had lots of happy memories to share after our activity days and even better discovered something we’re both good at – shooting with arrows!
Find out more about Anne Coates and her blog Parenting Without Tears.