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Kings' School in Winchester have been travelling with us to the Ardèche for nearly two decades. Here's why...
Q. Overall, how would you describe your experience this year with Acorn?
A. "Always phenomenal and kids get the chance of a lifetime. They never forget it"!!
Q. Was it easy to organise a trip with us/why?
A. "Yes it is – it's always easy to organise. Acorn office staff are always brilliant and always deliver".
Q. What do you like about the centre accommodation & location?
A. "It feels like home!! It is my 2nd home. I love how my heart misses a beat everytime I drive down the drive to the centre".
Q. Why do you choose to run this particular trip (learning outcomes/student reward/benefits/improved attainment etc…?)
A. "Scenery & the pure adventure of the trip!!! I even went to the Ardèche on my own holiday with my partner in the summer!! Acorn treat our pupils really well, safety matched to the respect of the sport/outdoors maximising fun! It improves your relationship with the pupils & the kids realise you are a human!! Relationship building….. you value the children above all else"!
Q. What do you think your pupils gain from camping in an Acorn village?
A. "Being safe, horse shoe shape village so people make friends. Also you can mix with just your own school which is ideal".
Q. Why do you choose to travel with Acorn Adventure?
"Who else would I travel with? Small & perfectly formed. I would never travel with anyone else to the Ardèche. I don’t look at anyone else. It's like putting a nice wooly warm glove on my hand!! Safety is great & we have to be so hot on nowadays. Seeing Sarah there now after so many years, so consistent".
Q. Why do you think Acorn Adventure is good value for money (if you do, of course)?
A. "You get so much more than what you pay for! Standards of instructors/equipment, staff care – not just financial".
Q. Have you travelled with anyone else? How does Acorn compare?
A. "Yes I have with another adventure operator in 1997 and I didn’t like them, that was enough! There is not enough words to say my feelings on Acorn, you have done me wonders with my kids over the 17 years and I have grown old with Acorn, I am now the oak tree"!
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!
THE ACORN VILLAGE - We have created welcoming, comfortable and self-contained villages for our families, typically with around 20 tents semi-circling a central marquee and the village ‘square’. This always guarantees great community spirit – as repeatedly testified by our guests – and the natural boundaries formed by the village enhance security. The marquee is where you dine, socialise or simply relax before heading back to your tent for the night.
The majority of our Adventure Camps offer you the chance to enjoy camping, without any of the usual hassles of trying to fit the tent in the car, setting it all up, sleeping on the floor and doing your own cooking! Our comfortable tents have everything you need, with solid floors and metal sprung beds and we do all the work for you, leaving you to enjoy your holiday.
Families of two or three are provided with one tent (with the option to pay a little extra for an additional tent if required) and families of four or more have two adjacent tents.
For those who prefer a few additional comforts, we offer indoor cabin accommodation at our popular Mediterranean Adventure Camp, located in a private zone of a holiday complex with excellent facilities. Here, our en-suite wooden cabins typically offer two separate sleeping areas, bathroom facilities and a lounge area - plus a verandah for relaxing in the evening and enjoying the warm outdoors. All meals are served in the spacious cafeteria or al fresco by the pool!.
Our Adventure Camps are located in beautiful natural surroundings with plenty of places of interest nearby. It will take you no time to settle, relax and then make the most of our camps. You will have the opportunity to take time out with your family to explore, or to relax and enjoy the camaraderie and fun with like-minded families.
All of our Adventure Camps provide a perfect blend of adventure, discovery, relaxation, challenge and fun – yet each one of them has something different to offer. Choose what suits you best from a variety of locations, activities and interests.
It’s really one of the most liberating experiences – not to have to worry about food shopping or cooking on your family holiday! We prepare three meals a day for you and we even do the washing up! Special dietary requirements will be catered for if you let us know in advance.
"Excellent - nobody mentioned the word 'bored' at any point during the holiday!"
Rachael Greathead, Tan Troed
Popular for nearly 35 years, our Camping Villages, set up in a horseshoe shape, create a real sense of community and add so much to the group experience. Each of our traditional camping villages combines comfort with the joy of camping, consisting of 16-18 fire retardant PVC tents each with four beds, sprung mattresses and a solid floor (sleeping up to 48 people). Party Leader tents now include tiled flooring, two solid timber beds, a fridge, an electric point, lighting and a wardrobe.
Each Village has its own marquee, lit 24hrs a day for dining and socialising and where drinks and fruit are always available. Around the clock, our highly experienced and qualified staff are never far away and you’ll also have your own Village Manager to support you as required.
Groups are guaranteed exclusive use of a village (based on a min. 35 paying people) and so you can make the space your own, perfect for group interaction and creating a community spirit. We also ask groups to have some involvement with the camp chores for the life skills this generates, teaching them to keep our living space clean and litter free. And of course it wouldn’t be camping without songs around the campfire!
Acorn Adventure promotes healthy and nutritious meals, which will keep children and adults fuelled for the day.
A well-balanced diet is essential which is why meals must consist of fruit, vegetables, starchy foods, dairy products and protein.