Many parents have fond childhood memories of playing in the street with friends, roller-skating and riding bikes until the street light came on, with parents often not even knowing how far down the street the children had roamed. Things like building a neighbourhood fort, or going over for a swim at the neighbours were some of the many activities children could indulge in when they were young.
However, as we are all aware, times have changed. The need to be vigilant against hijackings, robberies, child abductions, inconsiderate road users and bullies means we now make ‘playdates’ for our kids, and don’t let them out of our sight for a second. Riding bikes in the road is only permitted if there is strict supervision, and as busy parents we tend to rather shove in a DVD and tell them to be quiet.
Whilst this will most likely mean most of us will never have to experience the tragedy of losing a child, it also means a sad loss of a really meaningful childhood for our children. They will not learn life’s lessons in the same way we did – falling out of trees or having to stand up against that bully. They will most likely learn these from watching the telly.
It is for this very reason that Zoe Ellender founded Sugar Bay Luxury Holiday Resort for Kids & Teens, on the north coast of KwaZulu Natal. Zoe believed that in order to grow independent, responsible young adults, children need the space to be able to participate in great adventures, make friends from around the world, learn to flex their wings in a safe environment, and experience the holiday of a lifetime.
The birth of Sugar Bay gave campers these privileges. Now children return home from Sugar Bay having met children from around the world, from different walks of life, having participated in activities that have challenged them physically, as well as mentally. Children also feel comfortable expressing their emotions in this safe and non-threatening, non-judgemental environment with the emotional support of their counsellors, who become like their older sibling for the duration of camp.
The challenge for parents is to allow their children these opportunities to grow and develop without tightening the restraints, but rather granting them the freedom to develop into well rounded individuals. Holiday camps offer parents peace of mind so that they can let their children go, knowing that they will be having a fantastic time in a safe and fun environment.