Last week, we went to the VICTA summer family weekend at Kingswood, Colomendy with our buddy dog, Mabel. This was our second time participating in these activity weekends organised by VICTA. The first time we went was last year at Dearne Valley.
VICTA is a national charity for visually impaired or partially sighted children and young adults from 0 to 29 and their families. Even though they are based in Milton Keynes, they organise activities to build skills, develop confidence and help each other towards a more positive future across Britain. Do visit their website for the latest news. They also offer advice and provide support and grants.
This summer family weekend was Safari themed. I did buy a lion costume for Mabel, but we did not stay for the party as we had to cut short the trip due to personal reasons.
Kingswood is an outdoor activity centre located at Colomendy, North Wales. It is a contemporary blend of nature, adventure activity, and accommodation set in a valley surrounded by scenic hills and woodland. We all slept in purpose-built dormitory-style accommodation, with shared bathroom and shower facilities with others on the same floor. Each family was provided one room (with lots of bunk beds), but there were no keys to lock the room. They did provide sheets, duvets and pillows but we had to make the beds ourselves.
The whole accommodation and reception/sports hall areas were very rundown. I felt that they could do with upgrading and modernising the whole place. It is suitable for younger children, but definitely not for adults as the toilets and showers were too small. I had a hard time fitting into the toilet without touching the walls. The canteen is in good condition and was spacious and clean. As for the food they served, it was very reminiscent of school dinners and they didn’t have much in the range of fruit, salads or drinks. They do have an on-site shop selling snacks and souvenirs, but it was not always open.
There are three huge climbing and abseiling towers, low and high rope activities, a 3G swing, a 200-metre giant zip wire, archery and campfires. Participants can also get involved in caving, as there is a realistic caving system built right into the rock seam. There is a purpose-built water sports lake for canoeing, kayaking and raft building.
Children and parents were divided into separate groups and each group had their own activities. During this weekend event, there were only 15 groups of family as this place is smaller in scale. We were split into three groups of children and three groups of adults. The children were looked after by VICTA volunteers and activity centre staff. As for parents, we were invited to attend talks and have some children-free time, unless you have children under 5.
While we were in workshops, our children took part in archery and the 3G swing. They had a lot of fun, especially on the 3G swing. Then on Saturday afternoon, they organised a buggy building for the whole family to get involved. We all had to learn to read the map and start looking for items. Then we built a working buggy using a plank, plastic barrels and ropes. The staff taught us how to tie a knot to secure the buggy.
Then we all got to do team building activities, like forming a triangle, using pipes to get the ping pong ball out etc.
On Sunday, they learnt bushcraft, crate stacking, problem-solving and Jacob’s ladder, where participants must navigate their way up a giant high rope ladder of horizontally suspended logs. On Monday, it was the raft building before heading home. Both my children really enjoyed the activities and we were able to connect with families in similar situations. We were able to chat, learn from each other’s experiences and support one another.