Residential Centres and their users

Had a great time today at Eton Dorney Centre talking with a network of residential centre managers. I was asked to facilitate a discussion looking from a users perspective …. I used the comments and e-mails you’d typed as a result of this post as the basis for the seminar (thank you).
We had a lot of fun and some useful discussion, they were a really up-beat group who clearly take an enormous pride in what they do. But I pushed them into flagging up some of the frustrating things they encounter with youth group residentials. It makes for a bit of an ‘ouch’ but could prove a useful check list of ‘do nots’
1. Not reading the info
2. Arriving really early or really late
3. Not leaving at the agreed time
4. Booking in ’40’ people and turning up with only a dozen
5. Not clearing up
6. Moving everything around and not putting it back
7. Not reporting breakages, concealing damage
8. Not being organised/prepared & the young people getting bored
9. Cancelling at the last ‘minute’
10. Being late without any warning for meal times
11.Wanting the centre to be the strict disciplinarians

bunks.jpg Now remember I pushed the group into making the list, they were actually really positive about what we [the youth workers] do and their own role as hosts. Having assembled the list though we had a good discussion around what was the leaders’ responsibility and what was the centre’s AND how we could improve communication, understanding and co-operation.
Some of this will flow into the training I’m writing on “Zen and the art of the residential” but I got a good glimpse today of the need to communicate clearly and honestly with residential centres, understand their policies and requirements, communicate any changes beforehand, Inform and discuss with the centre while you are there and leave the place in the condition you’d like to find it.
It also re-inforced how useful a site visit is prior to the weekend.