BADER BRAVES Winter Wonderland Adventure Weekend, Exmoor

I was lucky enough to attend the BADER BRAVES Winter Wonderland Adventure Weekend this past weekend and can quite truthfully say that everyone who attended, whatever their age, size or disability, had the most wonderful time courtesy of the excellent Calvert Trust, Exmoor.

I couldn’t go to last year’s Winter Wonderland Weekend at one of the Calvert Trust’s other venues, in Kielder (they also have a flagship venue at Keswick), so apart from the report on the Website had very little idea of what to expect. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an enormous understatement! The facilities, both inside and out, were fantastic and all set in some of the most beautiful scenery the south west, or the country as a whole I’m sure, has to offer. The  wonderful light and airy Acland Room and its surrounding deck certainly takes full advantage of that with a breath-taking view out over the lake and surrounding countryside.

Sadly, one family couldn’t be there but all the BRAVES and their families and carers were united in their praise of the place and the weekend generally. The accommodation was very comfortable and well thought out for families staying with children with differing degrees of disability. Nothing was a problem for the staff there. The food was freshly-prepared and delicious and, coming in from the cold, exhilarated by the many activities on offer, very welcome indeed. Possibly too much so as several parents were convinced that, despite the exertions, they’d be leaving considerably heavier than when they arrived! Activities ranged from Archery to Zip-wiring with a vast range of possibilities in between and programmes were specially designed to be accessible and, more importantly, achievable by all. Residents were divided into groups and allocated an Instructor who would stay with them throughout their visit guiding them through a series of activities specially chosen for the group. The Instructors were second-to-none; caring, helpful, supportive, enthusiastic and encouraging. I joined a group instructed by Charlotte and an enthusiastic trainee, Jack. I was impressed with how quickly and deservedly both gained the trust and confidence of all. They were adept at getting us to try new challenges regardless of age, disability and nerves! They were also, however, able to recognise when “No” really did mean “No” and were sensitive to each person’s capabilities and wishes. Each group was equally enthusiastic about their Instructor’s expertise and skills, both psychological and physical.

As well as the various activities, the BRAVES and their families and carers also got to experience a Magic Act on the Saturday after supper and those who were able to stay wound up their weekend with a disco on the Sunday evening. All the BRAVES were, as usual, given a T Shirt and Goody Bag on arrival and presented with a certificate by Keith Delderfield pronouncing them fully-fledged BADER BRAVES on the Sunday afternoon after a somewhat chaotic but, we hope, ultimately successful group ‘photo! (You can judge for yourselves soon!)

Given the sense of achievement and satisfaction that I, as an arguably able-bodied 61 year-old, felt following my group’s challenges, I can only imagine that experienced by a child who spends a lot of his or her life physically restricted or wheelchair-bound. The smiling faces everywhere certainly seemed to bear this out better than any words could.

Do please keep checking the Website. We will be publishing more reports and photographs of the weekend shortly and we’d be delighted to receive either from any of you who attended so that we can share the memories and experience with those who weren’t able to be there.

I’m sure all would join me in thanking the Calvert Trust for a truly wonderful and, as one parent so rightly put it “Can-Do Weekend”.

* You can find out more about the excellent Calvert Trust, Exmoor, and see the great facilities they have to offer by checking their Website. (The link will open in a new window.) *

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