Day Camps

Palace Pioneers: 3-5 years old

Wild Explorers: 6-11 years old

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At First Hand Experiences, we believe the best way to learn is through authentic, first-hand, nature-based experiences. Children are eager to explore the world around them. Being around living things, having a sense of belonging, and finding out how to keep safe are all a part of growing up that requires special attention.

Our camps include theme-based trips and workshop sessions. We visit local working farms, woodlands, caves and beaches to gain a greater understanding of the world.
Palace Pioneers 3-5 programme
We encourage children to consider life's big questions and seek the answers, large and small, through outdoor experiences. What matters to children is at the heart of everything we do. Our experienced, enthusiastic and passionate educators use first-hand experiences to inspire and channel creative responses from your child.

Discover more about a typical day on camp below.


Wild Explorers 6-11 programme
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"Computer games and TV suddenly didn't seem so interesting anymore. Rufus enjoyed the camp so much that we've just booked some more! First Hand Experiences does exactly what the name suggests - children get to experience whatever they are doing, first hand!"

Sonja Wrede, 32

A First Hand Day Camp in Practice ...

A morning welcome and introducing the theme

We appreciate each camp as an opportunity to find out what really matters to children. Our themes are a starting point from which we can begin our wonderful journey and our cross curricular investigations into the real world.

Each morning we anticipate the day by discussing where we are going, whether we've been before, how we feel about going there, what dangers might be involved and how might we approach them. We introduce which adults will be there with us and all the other details that make your child feel safe and cared for.

We help with tricky words and definitions that help us on our journey. Usually lots of questions worth asking arise and we often save the answers for later..
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Team building & forging friendships

Starting off our journey in the right way is so important to both us and the group. We use short drama activities that build confidence and break down barriers that might otherwise stop us from making friends. We laugh, shout, and move in new ways. We put on voices that make us forget who we are so that we forget we might be strangers. We feel like a unit, a team now. This helps us stick together and to listen to the leaders carefully because trust has been built.

We sing our weekly tune in unison which reminds us of yesterday's adventure, allowing us to reflect upon it and bring the new day's possibilities closer.
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The experience

After our welcome session we are awake, revived and ready for the journey. We all check our provisions and our needs, toilets, water, are we warm enough or too hot? The older help the younger, then the much older ones check everybody and off we go!

We travel whichever way we feel best- by coach, bus, train, tube, boat or foot. We try to savour the journey because we are a team that is newly formed, with a shared mission. Anticipation builds and we are all excited!

We often meet experts at our destination who guide us all through our experience. Jerry helps us fix the corn to the hook when fishing, at Painshill, Carol lends us her net and key for pond dipping. Sometimes we ask some simple questions that help us so much. How to pick a raspberry or how we hold the bottle for a lamb. We interact with real people and their places. We experience.

In between our more planned activities we run up hills and sometimes roll down them too! We walk along fallen trunks holding an older hand. We rest, we laugh, we share our impression and we move again.








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Food education

Whether we are picking summer fruit at a local farm or fishing for trout from a pond in summer, we believe deeply in touching and tasting the world around us. We find that children are often disconnected from the food they eat, how it is prepared and where it comes from. Food is the fuel for the journey we say. It nourishes us and allows us to travel on.

The picnic is a challenge to the team but one we relish. We find the right spot to eat either indoors or out, depending on the weather. We all eat the same food lovingly prepared by our chef, Iole. Bringing our own tastes and food history to the table means this can be a challenge but we remember that we are a team. We look around and see new friends eating and we feel encouragement from the leaders to try, investigate and to make friends with new or scary ingredients.
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Farm to fork

When we are out picking, foraging or catching our meal, the pride and delight we experience in “farm-to-fork” eating is crucial in developing a healthy sense of connectedness to the world around us. Our Wednesdays and Fridays are spent busily surrounding ourselves with fresh ingredients that we use to make something to eat for lunch or even to be sold at the market.

The team is not scared to use 'bold' ingredients because we are brave, and as adventurers of the world we know our journey is one of discovery. We make, peel and squash to make a gooey pasta; we roast courgettes and crumble feta until our hands are white and we lick them clean.









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Back at the base

On the bus home, we rest our heads against the window or chat to our new friends and old buddies. Returning mid-afternoon, we are happy to be back. Maybe we will make a fresh juice from apples, oranges and veg. We take it in turns to drop pieces of fruit and veg down the juicing shoot, and to plunge the whirling top into the juicer. We have a hearty slice of something sweet too, which we gobble up gratefully.

Music & drama

These sessions are about creating and celebrating. After our snack, we are revitalised and ready to move again. Gathering round the piano, we teach the children the verse of the day. It reminds us of the journey we have just this morning shared. We play with the words and sounds. We add actions to check the children understand and because it is so much fun to move to the music. Then we sing. We aren't all great singers, but we enjoy it and we have fun. Somedays we will have a pianist there to help us. Sometimes we will learn to dance too. When our voices are fading, we will play games where we march like soldiers or dance like indians, and then we sing again!




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Get arty & crafty

Understanding the different rhythms of the children and creating a variety of activities is our secret to keeping everyone happy at the base. After using our legs and voices, it's time to use our hands and get arty and crafty. We remember our experience together, and we answer some questions: "What did you see?"; "What did you find there?"; "What colour was it?". Other times we don't need to remember because we have brought our own souvenirs; a stick from the woods which will be wrapped in wool; seeds for jewellery or flowers for our potions and lotions.

Other times all we will need is the inspiration from the people we meet; Jamie who sculpted his ice shell so carefully or the potter at their wheel. They excite us to try something different ourselves.

We work in small groups, we organise ourselves to divide the labour. We glue fabrics, paint big sheets, pastel with ink washes. We work with clay, fabrics, jars and jugs. We make recycled cities or markets where we sell our goods.

Winding down

After a busy day in which we've seen and done so much and made so many new friends; it's time to wind down with a moment we call "Your Time'. This is a period of time dedicated to child-led activities such as traditional games like cards or dominoes. The younger children can build using cardboard bricks, role play with figures or dress up. Children can also read in the chill out area or continue some art and craft they'd like to add some finishing touches too.