Young children across the county have been given an exciting opportunity to access a week of free, fun activities and healthy meals this summer as part of a special Fit and Fed programme, running in three Surrey boroughs.
The camps, organised by Active Surrey and funded by Saputo Dairy UK, provide 150 children aged 7-11 with the opportunity to meet new friends and get involved in a whole range of activities. Depending on their camp, the children have a chance to try new sports including open water canoeing, orienteering, Olympic themed games and archery.
The children are also provided with healthy meals and snacks to power them through the sort of structured, daily programme that they have been missing out on since last attending school over five months ago.
The Fit and Fed concept was developed by the national charity, Street Games. School holidays often present a challenge to families in need but this summer the situation has been worsened by coronavirus, with some facing the triple threat of holiday hunger, inactivity and social isolation.
In Surrey, 10% of children were already living in poverty before the virus struck. According to the ‘Surrey Uncovered’ report from the Community Foundation for Surrey, this increases to one in three in certain neighbourhoods.
Delivered through community partners – Surrey Outdoor Learning and Development, London Irish and the YMCA East Surrey - the camps have all taken place outdoors and the activities specially adapted to ensure that they are COVID safe.
Elizabeth Duggan, Managing Director of Active Surrey comments: “This year has been particularly hard for many families across the county. The need for camps such as Fit and Fed is greater than ever.
“These camps offer some of Surrey’s young people - who have just experienced many challenging months in lockdown - new experiences, healthy meals and a real break from their routines.”
Tom Atherton, President & COO of Saputo Dairy UK, says: “Saputo’s objective is to promote healthy lifestyle habits and these camps are a wonderful example of a project doing just that.
“I am delighted that we have been able to help provide these children with a safe and fun environment for them to be active and eat healthily after such a challenging period. Having spent time with some of the children, it’s clear that they have thoroughly enjoyed the activities and gained a huge amount from the experience.”
One camp participant told us: “ My favourite activity was canoeing. Halfway through we had a big water fight! We also got to eat watermelon for lunch.”
Louise Edwards, manager at Surrey Outdoor Learning and Development (SOLD) who ran one of the camps in Guildford says, “The SOLD Team at Henley Fort are thrilled to have been part of the Fit and Fed Programme. Working with Active Surrey we devised the activity programme to include building shelters in the woods, lighting a fire safely, working as a team on the low ropes/challenge course, a hike in the Surrey Hills, canoeing on the River Wey and even cooking their own breakfast over an open fire.
“The children have also enjoyed the healthy meals we provided for them at breakfast and lunchtime - many of them came back for seconds! At a time when many young people have felt quite isolated, the Fit and Fed camp helps prepare them for a return to school armed with new skills, new found confidence and having made new friends.”