Earlier this month I was lucky enough to go to the Sussex Family Fun Day at the Lodge Hill Centre in Pulborough. Rocking up in a taxi on Saturday morning I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – even though I’ve been to several CLAPA events now, they’ve all been totally different! But the one thing they all have in common is passionate and friendly volunteers, and this day was no exception.
Arriving at the Centre there was a real buzz in the air as children ran around and parents tried to get one last cup of tea in before the madness began. But Lou Garlick – the Sussex Branch Secretary – still found time to welcome me and introduce me to her fellow Branch Committee members and partners in crime, Cretia, Emma, and Lindsey. Before long, families were sorted into groups, each with a Branch Committee member to guide them, and sent off with a map for the morning’s orienteering session. As the kids ran off in every possible direction to explore the Centre’s beautiful forest settings, parents and volunteers started chatting – about the perfect weather, the lovely scenery, and of course, all things cleft! It was clear everyone was having a brilliant time and it was so much fun moving from group to group and getting to know everyone and their stories.
An hour and a half later we had discovered too many orienteering posts to count, collected a number of really quite impressively large sticks (see the photos to find out what I mean!), and the parents were starting to get tired; the kids, of course, were just getting started. It was time for lunch, so we all sat down together to enjoy the delicious spread put on by Emma. The chatting continued whilst I handed out everyone’s favourite lunch time treat – feedback forms!
Before long, it was time for the afternoon’s nature walk and scavenger hunt. The Branch carefully matched up all the families into different groups to their morning ones, and we set off again to solve the handful of puzzles hidden within the Centre’s enormous grounds. It was lovely to see all the different families working together and the kids’ excitement as they encountered the different clues posted high up in the trees. I’m certain that we all learned a lot…especially us adults, who found the various riddles just as tricky as the children!
At the end of the afternoon we all gathered together on picnic tables at the top of the hill to enjoy a well-deserved drink, rest our aching feet, and take in the fantastic view. I was sad to have to rush off to catch a train back to London, but happy to have seen the brilliant work the Sussex Branch is doing. It was obvious that they had spent months organising the event and had thought of everything – matching the families together in different groups for the morning and afternoon activities was a particular piece of genius, as it meant that everyone got to meet each other and the children had the chance to meet lots of kids their own age.
The Sussex Branch Committee is currently on the look out for more members, so if you’re in the area and fancy organising inspiring events like this one, then get in touch with [email protected] today!
Oh, and check out photos from the day here!