Written by Ana Gallego-Martin – Volunteer at ACAA
On a rainy Sunday, we set out to Butlin’s with a group of fifty ACAA members, little ones included. We all piled into the coach and two hours later arrived in a land far, far away (from London) by the sunny beaches (rainy coast) of Bognor Regis. Now, for those of you who don’t know, let me tell you, Butlin’s is EXACTLY the type of place where children see “amazing land of marshmallows and water slides”, and adults see “DANGER. EVERYWHERE.”
My role was to kind of mediate between these two – we took a group of the kiddies into the shallow swimming pools and made sure nobody swallowed water, they loved it. The parents could look eagerly from above and take 15,639,787 pictures of their child attempting a cart-wheel, whilst feeling reassured that the volunteers were acting as part-time lifeguards. After lunch, the children; watched Mr. Men and Little Miss. shows, took pictures with the actors, and went crazy on the child-friendly slot machines and candy floss stalls.
After half a day of spending time with these stellar children, I had a few monkeys attached to me: notably Amina and Yasmine. They clung to me and asked me to take them on rides and to the soft play area. They also trusted me, though, and respected me when I said it was time to do something or when I called their attention to risky behaviour.
When we headed back, to London, exhausted from the day’s activities, there hung an air of silent satisfaction in the coach – parents and children alike, were extremely pleased with the fun, well-rounded trip. Some of the families were so happy with the help we had supplied, in fact, that we got some beautiful remarks as feedback “
Thank you for your help and time, the children love it” said one mother.
One of the children, resisting the inevitable end to the day, suggested “Maybe we could live in Butlin’s for 100 or 200 years, with you, Ana.”
Fifty thankyous later, the group of volunteers congratulated each other on another successful and popular event.