Whenever I tell people that I oversee operations and recruitment for a UK based summer camp/summer school, I always get asked the same question: “So what do you do for the rest of the year?” Well, it’s simple, other than recruiting over 100 members of staff, ensuring that we comply with various regulations and operating our day camps, we focus on improving our camps and spreading the word about XUK school holiday camps.
At the start of every year we pack our bags and travel to Paris and Italy to meet old and new friends alike. Two Saturdays ago Emma, a long standing member of the XUK family, and I hopped on the Eurostar ready to introduce some families to our camps. We headed to a school in the centre of Paris but en route had to stop for some sustenance; just essentials to keep us going in the form of a Croque Madame and cassoulet. Ok there may have also been a chocolat chaud, onion soup and pommes frittes – we needed energy after all. I fear I digress…
Energised and ready to go we continued our travels and wandered across Pont de l'Archevêché, took a couple of photos and realised that we had been a little too relaxed. After hopping in a taxi we finally made it on time to the school and met some wonderful families who wanted their children and teens to travel to the UK during the summer holidays to stay at a UK based summer camp. We had a great time answering lots of questions about accommodation, travel, activities and so on and also found out a little more about them. Unfortunately we had to wave au revoir early as we had a train to catch but I was lucky enough to return to Paris with Annie the following Monday, with Richard joining us on the Tuesday.
There are two things that I love talking about; food (don’t get me started on Paris’s baguettes, quiches and Richard’s escargot) and camp. I really believe that camp changes lives and that is why I love meeting families as well as speaking to them over the phone. I could go on about it forever. In Paris I was able to combine both of these.
So, having returned from Paris I unpacked, repacked and travelled on to Turin and Milan - I know I am a very luck girl…it was work, I promise! Ok, it was more like a camp, gelato, cioccolata calda and spaghetti fuelled travel extravaganza, but again I spent most of my time chatting to parents of existing campers over delicious cappuccino’s and telling new parents all about XUK. The parents were also able to give me some local tips and so I managed to squeeze in a good wander around the beautiful Milan and a sneaky trip to Lake Como, but that is a story for a different blog…
I understand that language development is a major attraction, but I am always surprised at how popular UK summer holiday camps are with international families. We are a little behind over here…most English children travel with family or relax at home and aren't even aware that UK summer camps exist. We are trying to spread the word and hopefully soon families will know more about the experience!
I first worked at XUK nearly 10 years ago and remember training staff that safety was priority, as kids couldn’t thrive if they didn’t feel secure. Since then we have grown and changed but this is still key. Meeting parents allows them to learn more about our philosophies and to see who they are trusting to look after their children. I understand that it is not always possible to meet face to face but we are always at the end of the phone and keen to talk about how we can help our campers grow and give our parents piece of mind.
We are a family run business who strives to make our camps cosy and welcoming- I spend the time that I am not at camp trying to make sure that as we develop our core values are never compromised. I make sure that our staff understand why these are important, and I try to make our parents see that they are the key to a successful summer camp and school.
Until next time…