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Time to spread their wings ...

Staying away from home without their parents is a valuable experience for any child, helping them become more independent and self-confident. As a parent, you know that they will miss you but you also know that they will have a great time and come back with a head full of adventures and a bag full of dirty washing!

They’ll enjoy it so much they might not want to come home!

Ali Duffy, Centre Operations Manager at PGL Boreatton Park, has worked at the centre for 16 years and she sees this first-hand, every day:

“One of the highlights of my job and the main reason I do it, is seeing the children and young people who visit our centre, develop and grow so much in the short time they are with us – whether it be through trying something for the first time, building new friendships or growing in independence when they get to grips with packing their own bag at the end of their stay!

For some children, the idea of being away from home is more of a challenge. Fortunately, with support from us and a full programme of activities to keep them busy, any worries are short-lived. If a guest tells us they are missing home, we help them by keeping them busy with activities and making sure they are joining in with the rest of their group. This works well and before long, they’ve settled in, made new friends and are loving every moment of their stay.

We also keep a careful eye open for those guests who may need a bit more help to ensure they thoroughly enjoy their experience. Often, taking a little time with children, getting them excited about all the brilliant things they are going do while they are here, and reminding them about how much their families want them to enjoy themselves, does the trick.

It’s all about balance….

Sometimes a phone call home can help provide reassurance too. However, whilst support from home can be helpful, it's important to strike the right balance, as calling home several times a day can stop children getting ‘stuck in’ and enjoying themselves. Often it is enough for a child to know that they will be able to call home for a chat at a pre-arranged time. This gives them the reassurance they need to enable them to relax and enjoy themselves, knowing they have the phone call to look forward to.

If children are on an Adventure Holiday (in the school holidays), their PGL Group Leader or a senior member of the Guestcare Team, can liaise with home to explain and confirm arrangements for phone calls at appropriate times and make sure the child knows when these calls will happen.

Of course, children travelling with a school or group will also have their teacher or leader on-hand to offer support and encouragement, and parents will usually have been informed before the trip, what arrangements will be in place for contact with home if it is necessary.

In my experience, these strategies combined with lots of fun, friends and activities mean that by the end of their holiday, children often want to stay longer and are already planning their next PGL trip.”

An experienced team

Like Ali and her colleagues at Boreatton Park, the senior members of Guestcare teams at all our centres have a lot of experience (as well as training) when it comes to making sure that children enjoy their stay at PGL. Many are parents themselves, and understand the concerns that children may have when they are away from home, and they will do everything they can to ensure that every child has a great time.

Prepare them to have a good time!

Here are four tips to help your child beat homesickness before they even get to PGL:

1. If your child hasn’t stayed away from home much before, it might help them prepare by arranging some sleepovers with a grandparent, other family member or close friend in the months prior to their trip.

2. Most children who come to PGL like to bring a familiar item from home, such as a teddy or their own pillow. This can be reassuring, particularly at bedtime.

3. Some children worry about how much their parents or siblings will miss them while they are away so it will also help to reassure them that whilst they will of course be missed, everyone will be happy knowing that they are having a good time.

4. Address any specific concerns they may have about their stay – if you are not sure of the answer to any of their questions, you can find everything you need on our website. If your child is travelling with their school or with a group, you can also speak to the adult leading the trip, who should be able to answer any questions you or your child may have.

By PGL Travel.

Parents of children on school or group trips – find out more

Parents of children on Adventure Holidays – find out more