This year, ATE celebrates its 20th birthday! Together with our predecessor body, Colony Holidays, we’ve been running for over fifty years, and this year celebrates 20 years since we were established as ATE.
We spoke to Cat, a Monitor and former Superweeker, who put on her Official Birthday Party hat to talk to us:
“Twenty years of ATE means that thousands of children have been able to enjoy the incomparable experience of a Superweek and what makes these 20 years particularly impressive is that throughout this time, Superweeks have remained relatively unchanged. A child attending a Superweek in 1996 would not feel particularly out of place on a Superweek this year. Sure, children today might arrive clutching iPhones instead of Walkman’s but once they hand them in, the day to day running of the week is pretty much the same as it was 20 years ago.
This isn’t to say that children today are the same as they were in 1996; in fact in 2016, big changes in society and technology mean that children are under pressures that weren’t imaginable to earlier generations.
So how is it possible that an organisation like ATE can remain the same throughout the last two decades and still appeal to modern children?
It’s certainly not that ATE are an organisation opposed to change or new things, in fact many of our songs and games have evolved over time and we’ve found new ones that we like just as much. But for the most part, our songs and games are tried and tested classics that our 1996 and 2016 Superweekers could play and sing together. Not only have these activities survived 20 years of ATE but also many of them will have happened on a Colony Holiday, ATE’s predecessor. This means that some of our songs and games have been part of the fun for over 50 years. Having met some Colony directors last year, I can confirm that many of their memories of the games they played and songs they sang sounded pretty familiar.
We know these activities are good, because we’ve worked hard over the years to make them that way. We know from experience that play needs to be taken seriously because it’s the best way to get children to forget about the stresses of the outside world and have fun. Plus, it’s pretty serious business when you are *this* close to winning the final game of JDP.
But it isn’t just the activities that make Superweeks timeless. The strong community created on a holiday is something that will always be an important part of what we do. When a child arrives on a Superweek, they are immediately welcomed into an environment where they are totally free to be themselves. The outside world becomes irrelevant as soon as the Superweek begins and that is what makes it so special. In our ATE community, there is a place for every child, regardless of where they came from. With this as a guiding ethos of what we do, we are certain that however the next 20 years shape up, we’ll still be here doing the same thing. Ultimately, a community where you are valued for being yourself is something that will always be necessary.
So, here’s to the next 20 years!”