1. What inspired you to start Holiday Academy? How did the idea of a multi-activity day camp come about?
Lots of reasons! I basically needed a child-friendly business as I have two daughters of my own. My sister (who needed the child-care!) suggested a music camp as I was an opera singer (in a previous life!). Opera singing takes you away from home all the time so Holiday Academy is perfect for having my children with me.
My other reason is that I have a lovely step-daughter who at that time needed more than a mother of two tinies could give her! Holiday Academy was built around what she likes doing and she was my barometer of how it was going and what made her super happy for the times she was staying with us.
I also grew up deep in the countryside in the back of beyond and would have loved to have been at a day camp in the holidays! Holiday Academy is everything I would like for my mine and what I would have liked for myself too!
2. What hopes and dreams do you have for Holiday Academy and how do you see the next few years developing?
I’d like to see HA become an important resource for parents and children in terms of being a high quality day-camp, with original, interesting (and possibly quirky!) programmes. I also believe that what works in Early Years and the amazing and progressive childcare concepts there, can be applied to all age groups (including adults!) – don’t we all love being included, our individuality and our independence celebrated, being given open ended creative activities, choices, being allowed messy play and to top it off, making a massive den?! The learning through play concept is so special, I would wish it for everyone!
3. What makes Holiday Academy different from other kids activity based organisations in London?
I think there are very few multi-activity camps around and we have children coming regularly because of that. There are quite a few great friendships developing as a result. Also we have a very dedicated staff team who are highly qualified and experienced. We also are committed to providing childcare from 8.30-6pm.
4. What is your favourite activity to do with the kids and why?
I don’t actually do any teaching but I go into the sessions and watch sometimes. I absolutely love the informal performances we sometimes have – watching and hearing them sing – those faces shining out!
5. Can you tell us about a fun or memorable moment you’ve experienced with the kids?
We had a wonderful parent partnership workshop given by two architects with drinking straws and tape (a version of what you might do in your first year at uni!). The idea was to design and build the tallest, most robust tower, but the children took it to a more refined level with such innovative final structures. They were stupendous! Another moment was when we had two girls wanting to be the ugly brothers in Cinderella, and a boy Goldilocks. Children have such humour and free thinking – we should preserve that at all costs!
6. If you could provide any activity with an unlimited budget , what would it be and why?
I’d have engineering workshops building all kinds of things -go-carts, for example
7. What is your favourite aspect of running a day camp for children?
Seeing a child get excited about something they’d previously not liked, eg finding a different take on music and loving it. Having the staff say how much they like the children. Finding a really good day-trip somewhere or a theatre performance
8. Do you find that contemporary school education leaves enough space for kids to be creative?
For every person, whatever age there’s always room for more creativeness!
9. When it is cold and rainy outside (as it often is in London) what is your favourite activity to do with the children? Or are you of the school ‘there is no bad weather only bad clothing’?
Totally, rain is so much fun – although we really haven’t had much – mud pies and puddles come to mind straight away!