About Us

“Thank you for all that you do – you are part of making our kids who they are” – Parent, 2014

ATE believes very profoundly in the value of residential summer camps to children from all walks of life. We have over 50 years’ experience (formerly as ‘Colony Holidays’) in running summer camps and have been gathering experience and resources throughout the whole of this period.

ATE is a non-denominational body whose only aim or allegiance is educational, and as such we have strong links with the educational establishment. Most of the main educational bodies are represented on our Governing Body, and many of the senior staff on Superweeks are experienced, highly committed teachers.

ATE also has a rigorous and mandatory programme of training and support for all the people who work directly with the children on Superweeks. This programme is designed to provide them with the skills and understanding needed to work with children in a residential setting and to develop confidence in their ability to do so. It actively encourages people at each stage to assess their own performance and to consider ways of improving. ATE’s programme of training is very highly regarded by those who have experienced it.

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What does the ATE Trust believe?

Serious Fun.

ATE believes in a world where all children can feel safe, loved and supported and a world where all children have the opportunity to have real adventures. A safe place from which they can launch themselves into the unknown, whilst all the time discovering and learning ever more new things about themselves. ATE wants a world where life is not a series of things that have to be done, but of possibilities to savour, to have fun with and to remember forever.

Children need to be exposed to situations from which they can go away with increased confidence and personal aspirations and, above all, where they can feel, and be, themselves.

More children need to play; play outside and with other people. Formal education needs to be complemented with imaginative, active interaction. Children need an environment in which they can explore their imaginations, the unrealistic and the still-fictional; a care free environment with limitless possibilities that encourages them to reach for the stars.

More children need happier childhood experiences and memories created with other children and other adults. ATE wants Britain’s children to have increased, real experiences of positive social interaction with varied personalities. We believe this will lead to better socially-educated young people, and an increased tolerance of others and a positive perspective of the world.

What can we contribute to realising this?

“A’s confidence and independence were noticeably greater on her return. She’s made some great friends, especially with Alice, her Monitor. She came back relaxed, chatty, happy and tired – ideal!” Parent, 2015.

ATE aims to bring children together for adventure and play in unique residential settings. The aim of ATE is to provide safe, worthwhile residential experiences to children from a wide range of backgrounds, and to train adults who provide such an experience. The aim of ATE is to keep children emotionally and physically safe whilst away from home in the care of well trained adults.

When children are surrounded by the pressures of a hectic world, ATE believes that a period ‘away from it all’, doing simple, fun activities in a tucked away, countryside setting with others from all over Britain and beyond, can be of immense value. Children need many different positive experiences in order to grow, to learn, to thrive, and to make the most of their childhood years. We feel passionately that it is wrong to deny them these experiences through fear. We offer children simple, positive, and happy experiences of sharing a great holiday with lots of new friends. We give top priority to keeping children safe, physically, emotionally and morally. All our training of staff gives this overriding emphasis.

First and foremost, we seek to enable children to be children. We look for opportunities to encourage the fires of imagination and suspend reality in favour of active play. ATE believes in enthusiasm, and we do all we can to generate enthusiasm in our staff and in the children they work with. Through enthusiasm they can develop all sorts of interests, be eager to find things out and be fascinated by the world around them and the vast potential of mankind. ATE believes that an atmosphere where people can relax, feel happy, wanted and supported is essential for being creative and developing a positive attitude to life. All our staff work hard to generate an atmosphere which is full of joy and laughter while, at the same time, safe and caring.

The activities provided on a Superweek are a means towards realising underlying values of community and education. ATE exists to encourage children to mix with children they wouldn’t have otherwise met and to encourage children to try activities they would otherwise avoid. Superweek staff work hard to create a community atmosphere in which children feel they can push themselves without fear of humiliation or failure. Superweeks expose children to relationships with young people who can act as role models and inspiration, and provide them with a social relationship unlike any other they would make back at home. In the Superweek environment, it is easier to facilitate the children’s appreciation of this rare opportunity for free and simple interaction. These interactions are usually personalised and incorporated into individual lives to be deployed as part of a subjective world view, but away from the home environment this changes and children realise more of themselves than usual through social interaction with each other.

ATE widely promotes the value of play and related activities and to give as many children as possible access to our unique repertoire. We aim to stretch and challenge children’s imaginations and expectations of themselves and to increase their confidence and self-belief. Children will learn new skills and things about themselves hidden beneath the guise of games and songs and fun activities. A Superweek provides new activities and experiences for children; new hobbies, new games, and new friends and allows children to discover new talents and interests.

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What does ATE Exist to do?

We exist to enable.

ATE exists to run, and to champion, our own unique style of residential experiences as a not-for-profit educational Trust with values based in education and active learning. ATE provides children with positive experiences by taking the time to develop creativity, imagination, motivation and skills. A Superweek provides an environment in which a child can be stimulated through making new friends, telling stories, singing, laughter, games, time and, most importantly, play.

All of the young people (‘Monitors’) who work with the children are both volunteers, and the training for this is as demanding as the role they are undertaking.

We recognise that we are governed by a council of representatives from most major educational associations. The governing council are supportive of ATE’s objectives to provide affordable, educationally enriching experiences for young people, and believe in the value of summer camps. The Council makes sure that keeping children safe, both physically and emotionally is ATE’s top priority.

What are our values and beliefs?

“Dominic always has a great time and seems to come back visibly more confident and grown up. He always makes good friends and we feel impressed with the quality of the care he receives from all the staff. The range of activities is just what want from a screen-free, fun filled but educational week.” Parent, 2015.

Underpinning our work, our attitudes and approaches are based upon:

  • Being non-judgmental
  • Empathy
  • Persistence and fresh chances
  • Love and respect
  • ‘Reach for the stars’ encouragement
  • Reverence for the potential impact of a Superweek
  • Community
  • Inclusion
  • Educational methodologies
  • The importance of treating people as individuals
  • Being safe
  • An expectation of high standards

The role of the monitor ensures that the whole holiday experience is a complete experience. We believe in, and will support, a child’s opportunity to practice independence, be themselves and discover different perspectives on life and try something completely new. ATE retains a conviction in the potential of children and stands for recognising the importance of every individual. ATE was built on the shared belief of a group of educationalists that the potential benefits to children, and the young people who will be trained to work with them, could be huge.

We try to ensure each and every child goes home having benefited from their holiday as well as having had fun. Parents often remark on a growth in self-confidence, self-assurance, consideration of others, maturity, positive self-identity, improved social skills, physical and thinking skills, and positive values.

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What are our attributes?

A Superweek is a submersion in community and childhood; we are not plugged in, we have no screens, no mobile phone reception, and instead do things together, go outside and play.

ATE is a small and personal organisation, which prioritises staying close and true to this guiding ethos. Apart from a very small operational and administrative team, ATE operates with a completely voluntary staff body, who all take their own time out to do something that they both love and believe in very strongly. ATE takes the training and development of its staff very seriously and there is continual in-service assessment to ensure that staff members embody ATE’s approach to working with children that has been developed over the last 50 years.

In every aspect of our work, we take pride in not simply achieving the bare minimum, but in excelling, going over-and-above what could be expected of us and creating the very special and the out-of-the ordinary.

We think it’s simple…life needs play.