What we do and what makes us different... A day at Summer Weeks offers your child the chance to explore and challenge themselves, through creative arts, nature exploration, adventurous activities, cooking, craft, greenwood working and tool use. We organise the camp so that there are lots of fun activities to get involved in or if you just want to play games in a field with your new friends then we have staff ready to do that too! We have "good old fashioned" camp fires, eating together, tree swings, splashing in rivers and making new friends all happening here at Summer Weeks with specialist practitioners and trained volunteers that are always available to support a young persons development.We hope that everyone can have a great time just being outdoors for a week without the use of tablets, laptops and DS' for entertainment, if you would like your child to have a week outdoors away from a screen, getting mucky and making things with their imagination then Summer Weeks is definitely the place to be. Where we came from.... I have been asked to write something about the Summer Weeks, its history, ethics, ethos... So let me tell you a story.... Once upon a time, a woman called Sue Bennett lived in the Eden Valley with her family. Sue was very good at talking with, and listening to, others. Gradually, everything she learnt began to form a vision of a better world, with local action contributing to global vision. She especially liked to support young people in improving the local community - for her, social and environmental issues were bound up in a common vision of a vibrant, happy and respectful community. The first Summer Weeks, in 1999, consisted of activity days in beautiful places in Cumbria. Activities were designed to celebrate the beautiful local environment, to be child-led, non-hierarchical, to encourage imagination and an ethos of helping and working with each other. From this seed, the charity Eden Community Outdoors was born, with Sue offered funding for 3 years, and with her immediately calling people together to decide what should be done with that funding.... The Summer Weeks continued to be an essential part of ECO, and gradually became better defined - "It's about building a temporary community in which we'd all like to live" rather than about the specific art, craft, adventure, cooking and sleepover activities.
After a few years, the '3 rules' of SW were born, still used today: Look after yourself Look after others Look after the environment (and 4 - often the first to be memorised by the participants! - "have fun" - but that's not really a rule, is it?!!)
Practically speaking, this makes SW participant-led, with activities open enough to allow individuals to progress, to take the lead, follow their own initiative, and work together to create something bigger than the sum of its parts.... This is set into the staffing, so participants can become volunteers, then trainees, then support workers, then activity leaders, and even co-ordinators or to have a hand in the overall project management. And this ethos finds itself in the project management itself, with the spirit of collaboration and use of consensus decision making at all levels. After Sue died, ECO continued - but without her unifying vision, it gradually lost some of the original ECO ethos, and for this among other reasons in 2015 the decision was taken to close the charity. However, the Summer Weeks project had managed to retain its authenticity and as such, there were many who had been involved - as participants, workers, parents, trustees and co-ordinators - who were determined to see the project continue. We would all miss that beautiful temporary community, as well as the meeting of minds that helps other like-minded projects happen throughout the rest of the year. Hence, the new charity EdenVentures has been set up, to enable Summer Weeks to continue. The ECO trustees generously passed on all the necessary kit, as well as other help, to ensure SW continues... the 'seed' of ECO sprouts anew - Long Live Summer Weeks!!! THE AUTHOR: Cath Rigler ran Environmental Drama workshops on the first ever Summer Weeks. I joined Sue as core staff when ECO was first set up, so co-ran the SW project (among others!) for the next 3 years. When I left ECO, I returned each summer to run activities on SW - including the year of Sue's death, when the project was run by her eldest son Zack. The following year, I was honoured to be invited to return as on-site co-ordinator, a role I enjoyed for 4 years before handing over to Gemma Webb, who had done all the hard prep work for years. I am enjoying the return to an activity leader/support worker role, I love working as part of this very special community, on this amazing project. If you're interested and want to know about our extensive safe guarding policy you can download it here: Download safe guarding policy.