Children spend so much time these days bustling from school to one structured activity after another, and when they do get some spare time they are often drawn in by screens! The wonder of free play, risky play, exploratory play, seems to be forgotten. We want children to rediscover the joy of play, to remember they don't need toys and gadgets and devices to be happy.
Meet Harriet, Director of Conscious Kids - a 100% nature-based Holiday Program in Auckland.
Conscious Kids programs are designed as an antidote to the fast paced technology filled world our children now inhabit. A chance to unwind and play as their parents did, climbing trees, building huts, exploring and of course playing bullrush! Children may attend one day or the whole week. The days are filled exploring the amazingly beautiful native bush, and all the wonders it has to offer.
"We want children to play freely like we all used to as kids. That is why we started this company and these programmes"
What are the main benefits that you see for children participating in your programmes?
Wow where do I start? If you could read the feedback we get from parents that would say it all. Children who come on our programmes, most importantly have loads of fun! That would be the biggest benefit from the child's point of view. We see children really coming alive, they are so happy and care free when playing in nature, they are creative, they think deeply, they work together to solve problems, they learn to take calculated risks (and discover the consequences), they develop their coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and fitness level.
"What we really hope they take away from our programme is the memory of how happy and alive and free they felt playing outside, and that this drives them to do more and more of it whenever and wherever they go".
How do you see them grow? IE are they encouraged to take risks?
It is really amazing to watch the children grow in confidence over the day and for some lucky ones the week. So many parents tell us their child is very shy, struggles in new situations, is very nervous about coming, and a lot of the children are quiet and reserved when they arrive, and then over the course of the day they just open up and take off! We don't need to do very much encouraging at all, they feed off the energy of the group and they encourage and support each other.
"This is one of the most rewarding parts of the job, watching the changes in the children happen so quickly".
What type of activities do they participate in? And what would you say is the overall favourite activity and why?
This depends on the venue and the group of children on any given day but a few things always stand out as favourites: whittling, building huts, making mud slides, playing soccer or bullrush, cooking on the fire, riding in the wagon (which is actually used for transporting gear but has become the favourite piece of equipment for play), big team games created by the children where one team vs another in whatever they happen to decide on the day, we have had crystal hunting, hide the coconut shell, mud wars. Activities are only ever limited by the imagination!
What age range do you cover and how big are the groups?
Our standard holiday programmes are for children 5yrs-12yrs but we are working on new programmes for the next age bracket, probably 11-15yrs, involving more risk, and more challenge. Watch this space! The size of the groups depend on the location but are generally around 25 children.
What basic skills should the kids have before they join?
None! They just need to be willing to have fun! But even children who usually hate holiday programmes and ones who supposedly hate getting muddy have had the best time with us.
Have you seen an incline in the number of children wanting to take part over the years?
We are a new company only forming last year in September. We planned to start small, take our time as we all (all 3 partners) have busy lives, but the response has been so amazing we have grown faster than we anticipated. The feedback we get after every programme is so phenomenal, both parents and children are just desperate for this sort of experience, so we are adding more and more locations every holidays to accommodate the demand. It warms our hearts so much to know that people want this as much as we do.
What do they need to bring?
“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”.
Good quality wet weather gear is very important. We wholeheartedly believe the famous quote “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. For our Winter Programmes waterproof gear (jacket and pants) is compulsory, especially for rainy days.
Where and When
Conscious Kids programs are held in various locations in Auckland, with upcoming bookings from 11-15th & 18th-22nd July.
Find out more information at their website!