L spent 4 days of his first week off school with the guys and girls (and fish) of Barracudas in Norwich. He went with his best friend and had a blast.
I’ve already spoken about how much he enjoyed it when he went at Easter, and how helpful I’ve found it as a childcare solution. I’ve worried about what to do as a first time attendee/parent at the camp.
What I haven’t spoken about is what happens when things go wrong. Because they didn’t. Barracudas had nailed the drop off, all the activities are amazing and L and his friend who went with him had just the best time over Easter and over the Summer, that is until their very last day.
Now I understand it’s not normal to talk about when things go wrong, but for me, I think you can genuinely tell how good somewhere is when you see how they deal with problems. At no point is that more important than when they are looking after your children. You need to be confident in how situations will be handled and I hadn’t been able to talk about that as I had no experience in it.
All had being going swimmingly at camp, the boys were having an absolute blast. Days filled with fun and activities. Each day coming home with tales to tell, painted faces and pictures drawn. Friday was the highlight, the day they were most looking forward to, a Neverland theme day and a giant water fight with everyone bringing water pistols. So when I arrived with L Friday morning and he burst into tears and clung to me it was a bit of a shock.
From the second he woke up Friday L had been nervous about going and making sounds about not wanting to go and asking if he could stay home. He didn’t want to dress up, fine. He wasn’t fussed about the water fight. I know he was very tired and I think it had all just got too much.
So there I was, outside the hall with a child who wouldn’t even walk through the doors. A couple of parents shared knowing and sympathetic looks but I was in it alone and had swapped all my shifts round so that I could have the rest of the summer off. L not going wasn’t really an option.
But then, I wasn’t alone. A member of staff who had met L sat down on the floor next to him for a little chat, it didn’t work but I appreciated the gesture. Then popped out a couple of the other members of staff who spoke to him all about what would be happening during the day, what his group would be doing and soon realised that that wasn’t working with him, so they changed it up. These people who had only spent a maximum of 5 days with my kid, 2 at Easter and the 3 from that week, probably less. Read the situation perfectly.
First they confirmed they had my mobile number and could call me whenever he wanted, so if he tried it today and didn’t have fun they would call. If he was having blast and wanted to tell me, they would call. Then they offered him the chance to not do anything with his group, They said he could help in the office, all day if he wanted, and through the tears and the snot we got a nod and off he trotted. I couldn’t have been more thankful. These people know kids, they are highly skilled and they just got it.
They even phoned my to let me know he was fine, had settled nicely after a bit of time in the office and had gone to his group and was helping set up and tidy away activities.
During that very same day I then got a message from his friend’s mum. Her boy had fallen up the stairs and knocked out his two front teeth. They’d had to go and collect him.
Dripping with blood and shocked and in pain they found him sat nicely on a chair with all the paper towels being looked after by the Barracudas staff. Accident reports were filled and he was sent off with his dad to the dentists. All the available first aid for the situation had been done and everything was being taken very seriously.
Was the worst bit the pain, the missing teeth, the blood on a fave teddy and pirate outfit? No. The worst bit was missing out on the water fight and most of his day there. He wanted to go back to make up for his missed day.
The staff asked after him as they were worried and also wanted to make sure their records were up to date.
You see kids will be kids, they will have wobbles and they will have falls. They will scared, they will bleed, they will need comfort and as parents we have to trust that the people we leave them with will provide that. It’s not like nursery or school, these aren’t people who spend several days a week, every week with the kids. But boy they are the people you wish were.
This wasn’t the Barracudas review I was expecting to write at the beginning of the week, I was expecting to write about how they remembered the boys from Easter and about all the fun things they tried. Actually though, I’m glad this is the review I got to write, because this is what is useful and this is what worried parents like me need to know. We need to know that our kids are cared for, understood and looked after.
I didn’t think I could rate Barracudas anymore highly than I already did, but seeing this side to them, the side that is dealing with problems has raised them up higher.
Best yet, summer isn’t over and they still have spots, so if you need some childcare help or just want to sort out some amazingly fun days for your kids then check them out!!
Disclosure – as brand ambassador we were gifted our days in return for spreading the word about the camp. All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.