The Summer Camp is what started Big Leaf, and it's always a high point of the year. It’s a chance for the young people to relax, to eat well, sleep well, to spend time outdoors, have fun and make new friends. For the Big Leaf team, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with everything we’re trying to achieve… to spend time with the young people, discover their hopes for the future and build trust so that we’re better able to support them in the months and years ahead.
This summer, we returned to Jamies Farm in Lewes. Located in the beautiful Sussex countryside, it's the perfect place to spend time with young people, getting to know them and building trust It's also a space for them to spend time outdoors, relax, sleep and eat and connect with each other.
"You’ve become one of my best friends. It is so good to be around you, thank you for encouraging me..." H talking about his new friendship with N
Jamie's is a working farm specialising in supporting disadvantaged young people at risk of academic and social exclusion. It aims to build self-esteem and improve wellbeing through a residential programme. Our morning farm rounds included feeding the goats, chickens, pigs and horses. While the days were filled with long rambling walks across the South Downs, helping in the garden and harvesting and cooking fresh organic produce together. Somehow there was still time for games and art and craft activities.
But our Summer Camp can also be challenging. The young people we support have often experienced significant trauma, and complex topics regularly arise. It isn't always easy to navigate these conversations and situations. These young people have been moved around and shuffled from place to place and understandably are wary about who they can trust. We left feeling thankful that we had the space to have difficult discussions and show them that we are here to support them even when things feel hard.
We'd like to thank the wonderful team at Jamie's for making every trip so special. We're already excited to return.