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Acorn Adventure is one of the most established and recognised providers of Adventure for schools and youth groups in the UK. In 2017, we are excited to be celebrating our 35th year! Acorn’s founder, Andrew Gardiner, is still the proud owner and Chairman of the company and we remain a privately owned, family business that continues to put customers and staff at the heart of the company.
Acorn Venture Ltd began life in 1982. Andrew Gardiner, Acorn’s owner and chairman, was a teacher at nearby Four Dwellings School in Birmingham where he helped to arrange camping trips for the school to a farm in Tal-y-Bont, near Barmouth, North Wales. He soon noticed the profound benefits that the pupils – and the staff – gained from these trips. Before long he decided to give up the teaching profession and organise the trips for other local schools.
These simple ‘camps’ proved to be popular and so Andrew looked for other special locations that would appeal to teachers wanting to inspire their pupils and improve their attitude and performance in school.
Two centres opened in 1984: Hauteville-sur-Mer, in Northern France (still operating today) and Chideock in Dorset. A few years later Acorn opened Adventure Camps at Shell Island, in North Wales, Anduze in the South of France and Cala Llevadó in Spain (still operating today). By 1989 the product, known as Acorn Adventure had extended its simple programme to offer a full activity programme? course including canoeing, abseiling, climbing, archery and sailing. The Company acquired a number of accreditations along the way, ABTA, ATOL and becoming members of the relevant governing bodies, a committee member of the School and Group Travel Association, fore runner of the STF and the British Activities Providers’ Association.
In 2009 the Company was awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge for all its adventure centres. Over 35 years, we have built up an excellent reputation for safety and delivering quality activity programmes and now have 11 accreditations and hundreds thousands of customers travelling with us each year.
In 2007 Andrew introduced a new and exciting product to our sister company, The School Travel Company. Since then, he has personally developed school programmes of travel and adventure in India (overseen a number of exciting school trips to India) and in 2017, we are introducing this popular destination to Acorn Adventure.
In 2017 we are operating ten centres in six countries. Every year we employ 35 permanent members of staff and over three hundred seasonal staff across our UK and overseas centres.
Acorn Adventure is widely known for inventing the popular `Village Camp` concept back in the ‘80s. At the majority of our Adventure Camps, you will still find an Acorn Tented Village, set up in a horseshoe shape, with a central marquee for dining/socialising and a play area in the middle. Our village ethos unites groups supports group identity, encourages community spirit, and teaches life skills as well as providing easier control for teachers and leaders. Those who have travelled with us since the ‘80s were delighted when we added proper beds to our tents and we have often been asked if we can provide ensuites (tents)!
We haven’t quite managed this, but in response to this question we have introduced more accommodation options over recent years, which include en-suite options and customers can now choose from tents, pods, tipis, bivvi nights, cabins and dorms. But the original ethos of the accommodation experience runs through everything we do. This is why the vast majority of our camps have campfire nights for good old fashioned fun, stargazing and toasting marshmallows.
2017 sees the launch of our new Tipi Adventure (product), which is exclusively aimed at Primary and Prep Schools. This exciting new concept offers an exciting woodland activity programme, combined with the experience of camping in quality tipi accommodation. Our first Tipi Adventure is based in the Wyre Forest, so close to the West Midlands Safari Park, the lions can be heard roaring! We hope to be opening up many more over the next few years, across the UK.
Due to popular demand, we are also about to launch our new Lake District Adventure!