Since I discovered Smash Camps at Stubbers, the kids have been going to them regularly every time there is a school holiday. They emerge with tales of tunnelling, laser tag, sailing and popcorn creation, with a bag full of wet muddy clothes to attest to the amount of activity they’ve been getting up to.
Thing is, when I drop them off and pick them up, I just get to wait at the door.
The rest of the day, the facilities, the actuality of Stubbers life all remain an ill-explained mystery, intriguingly fuzzy and incredibly tantalising. I think I’d rather be there than sitting at my desk, writing reams of strategy. (well ok, I do like strategy writing – but I also like sailing and building fires and exploring stuff).
Anyway, Seb’s 9th birthday provided the perfect opportunity to give this all a go for myself – and get the Other Half involved too – because, happily as an August baby, his birthday fell at exactly the right time for us to use it as an excuse for going to a ‘Family Adventure Weekend’, Friday to Sunday, friends included.
Stubbers describe it as:
‘Camping weekends during the summer holidays specifically designed for families, where you can truly embrace nature’
And promised that:
‘during the weekend you will have the opportunity to take part in a number of adrenaline filled activities such as climbing or paddle boarding, or why not take to the wild and try our bushcraft session’
All for the sum of £70 per adult, and £50 per child aged 6 and over.
And then they said we could hire a ‘bunkhouse’ containing 5 bunk beds for the weekend, rather than bringing our own tent. Given I was working right up to two hours before we would be due to arrive, that sounded like a good idea, much as I do love my big green monstrosity.
Therefore, two adults and six children arrived at Stubbers with sleeping bags, pillows, and plenty of towels and clothes…and set to exploring the surroundings.
The Friday night was all about getting together and having fun, and after the kids had enjoyed bouncing around on the bunks a bit (contained within a canvas frame tent, with the bunks set out around the sides which left a space in the middle for STUFF), there was a surf simulator to ride, a PS4 fuelled dance off, and table football to bash about. Oh, and a big bonfire with marshmallows to attach to the end of sticks scouted from the surrounding woods. They also managed to source a football from somewhere, and lots of the kids teamed up together for a bit of a kick around. Foolishly, then I refuelled them with a big meal of macaroni cheese, cooked in the Chestnut Kitchen area – which is a big marquee complete with fridge, freezer and two big stoves. We brought our own cooking equipment with us, but it turned out there was a pretty good supply of pots, pans and implements available to borrow too.
So then it was bedtime. The bunks were bounced on some more. And some more. And a bit more.
Finally they fell asleep…
… which is good, because next morning, the ‘adrenaline filled activities’ began. We were put in teams of about 10, and issued with an agenda for the day.
Archery was followed by laser tag, which took us all the way up to lunchtime. I’d like to note I managed to score a 10, even though I was using a kids bow (shh) in the guise of supporting the 4 year old. The activities do have some height and weight restrictions, but even Little B was able to take part in the majority of things, although I did have to be her caddy for the laser gun – it was kind of heavy even for me!
The café had some nachos and a smiley face sandwich which called to us on our way to sort out some lunch, and it was very reasonably priced and well presented. There was also ice cream available. It was a hot day. It had to be done.
The afternoon offered another opportunity to cool down, in the form of paddleboarding and raft building. There was lots of water, and I quickly realised why the kit list we’d been sent emphasised towels, changes of shoes, and plenty of clothes and bin bags to put them in. Stubbers provided wetsuits (and an interesting lumpy sausage look) and we had to provide everything else – and it all got very, very wet. Most of us ended up in the water rather than on top of it, more than once. Some people managed to stand up and not fall in. But whatever we were doing, all of us enjoyed it.
There was a lot of walking around, as we were expected to go back to base camp between each activity to meet with the leaders for the next. With little ones it got quite tiring, and I ended up staying with D at Russell’s Lake between paddleboarding and raftbuilding as it had already been quite an exhausting day. I thought after I’d been successfully rescued from the middle of the lake by our raft team that we were done for the evening, and whipped out the barbecue… and then we were asked if we’d like to go swimming in the lake.
Sure, why not? It was a nice way to tire everyone out even more, before we all collapsed on giant beanbags to watch the Greatest Showman on the big screen.
And then to bed.
(there was less bouncing than the night before, maybe due to all four boys deciding to have a ‘sleepover’ all in one bunk – a bit of a squeeze but they managed it somehow!).
Sunday morning brought with it climbing and high ropes, and a bit of a run around the park for Little B who was too small to walk around obstacles up in the air.
Then it was time for what the kids had been looking forward to probably the most – jetskiing, banana boats and whizzing around the water on an ‘inflatable sofa’.