First Hand Experiences
Living in Harmony
We inspire our campers to become independent and resourceful young people who work with and for their natural environment. Your students will sample off-grid living with us, through harvesting their meals from the on-site allotment and forest garden, preparing them in our kitchen and sharing food together around the campfire.
We offer a packed and varied programme of experiences, facilitated by our passionate and vibrant team, designed to allow students to connect with and celebrate their environment. This means getting out in the woods, fields, rivers and ponds to learn from and through nature.
The Arts Inspired by Nature
Inspired by their outdoor adventures, professional artists teach the children how to knit, weave, mould, sculpt, carve, paint and build using natural materials. Each stay with us culminates in a theatrical spoken word performance inspired by their week’s adventures as well as a whole food feast prepared by the students.
A Team Inspired by Nature to Ignite Young Minds
Our team of experienced, passionate and inspirational mentors bring an unrivaled sense of joy and dedication to their role. They work tirelessly to ensure all children on camp make the most of their time with us. As well as being experts in their specific field, all our team are equipped with outstanding communication skills, boundless energy, a full DBS and of course a beaming smile!
Why book First Hand Experiences for Residential School Trips and Educational Visits?
A Natural Haven: A Stone’s Throw from the City
Our camp is tucked away on Brenley Farm Estate on the edge of the Kent Downs between the medieval towns of Faversham and Canterbury. The land is a parcel of 50 acres spread across 4 fields that sit in a valley of natural chalk down land. The area is in a Natural England Higher Level Stewardship agreement with the camping fields being specifically planted to create species rich grassland and naturalised wild flower meadows. We often see buzzards, kites and sparrow hawks; partridge, pheasant, rabbits and hares as well as a huge variety of song birds. It is the perfect secluded spot for our Gather Green base.
Camping in style!
At Gather Green we spend our nights tucked up under the stars in traditional bell tents pitched in the beautiful, spacious wild flower meadow. The camp has a capacity of 120 children and staff. Members of our team will sleep in tents in the same field for the entire stay.
The group will have the use of compost toilets and solar heated shower blocks. We have a large pavilion for cooking, a yurt for dining and gatherings, a campfire circle, an on-site allotment and plenty of dedicated green spaces for free play allowing the children to enjoy a rich and varied on-camp experience.
How to get there
We encourage groups to come by train as the site is a 20 minute walk following lovely footpaths from Selling station (don't worry, we'll fetch bags from the station) Selling is 1hr 20 mins direct from Canon St, London Bridge and Victoria stations. Canterbury is a 50 min train from St Pancras.
Gather Green is a 7 minute drive from the M2 Brenley roundabout junction. We are a 20 minute drive from Canterbury and 7 minute drive from Faversham.
We welcome overseas visitors. The site being easily reached from Eurostar stations and Dover ferry port.
Planning your visit
Working with our talented team of curriculum planners and trip organisers we aim to make booking your residential trip with us as smooth as possible:
- Working with our education coordinator we will tailor our activities so that the programme meets all your curriculum and pastoral needs
- We lead all activities but ask that teachers supervise free time and some pastoral duties. We believe that small groups are best we have 1 camp leader to max of 15 students.
- Our team will be ever present in the supervision of your children
- A unique follow up package which includes their spoken word performance, interactive camp diary and professional photo album
- Full risk assessments provided for every aspect of your chosen programme
What activities are available during group visits?
Our daily formula -
After a breakfast in the yurt children reflect on the previous day and the day ahead. We forge a collective spirit through team building games, mindfulness activities and yoga. Then we are ready for the day...
After breakfast, the class will be split into two smaller groups of 15, children will both work in the forest garden with our resident horticulturist, will forage in the meadow and work with our chef in the camp kitchen preparing lunch with our freshly harvested fruit and veg. Lunch is eaten in the yurt unless it is a hike day.
Children will take part in a different afternoon experience each day. From meadow sweeping to cob building our activities are always designed to be hands on and teach new skills.
Some examples: geodesic dome building, shelter building, bushcraft, forest school, hike and woodland scavenger hunt, woodland survival, fire lighting, kite building and flying, night nature walks, bat walks, bird spotting, meadow sweeping, beach trip.
Create and Celebrate Afternoon Sessions
Children are guided by our team to create their own costume and spoken word performance inspired by their sensory outdoor experiences. The opportunities here are wide ranging and can be tailored to each school's preferences.
The evening is a time for dinner around the campfire in the designated space in the meadow. Afterwards children love to play and relax in the woodland or meadow then retreat to the yurt with a hot chocolate entertained by stories, drama games and the camp diary.
What size groups do you cater for?
120 children and accompanying teachers at one time. Each class of 30 get their own glamping village with washing and toilet facilities spread out in different fields. 2 class share the same kitchen and chef.
Do you offer on-site classroom facilities?
We have a pavilion, large yurt and marquee we use for our arts & crafts and downtime.
Is there first aid on site?
All of our camp leaders are registered first aiders.
Do you offer access for visitors with disabilities?
Do you cater for visitors with Special Educational Needs (SEN)?
Yes we do
Reviews from Schools visiting First Hand Experiences!
"We booked a 4 night 5 day residential holiday for 28 children at their Kent site this summer and it
did not disappoint. Justin received the children at the train station with the other teachers, from that
moment on Justin and his team excelled in everything they did, from getting them settled in and
exploring the site to getting them comfortable to try new foods. The activities were well thought out
and delivered to perfection. The children not only got to experience new things but also gained
knowledge that will stay with them forever.
As all the children were all from Paris it was really important for me to have the chance for the
children to connect with the nature and outdoors, not only did Justin and his team deliver this but
they were experts in making it fun and exciting for our little ones. The day was full of amazing
activities like den building, hiking, meadow sweeping, dance, music, so much I can’t remember.
The staff that Justin has working for him have an innate ability for working with young children,
the level of maturity and there empathic working style was incredible. The staff there seemed to be
specialists in every activity they presented.
This leads me on to the food, all I can say is wow! The chefs are clearly very passionate about their
food. They prepared our meals with love and creativity making the children feel comfortable with
the new foods they were trying. Not only has this given our children memories forever but the staff
too. So to Justin and the rest of the Firsthand Experience team....A massive thank you from everyone
at Beautiful Minds School in Puteax, Paris. You were all incredible and we hope to see you all next
Justin Baker Beautiful Minds School in Puteax, Paris
Special rates for schools
staying with us outside of peak season
5 day stay £245 or £49 per day
Book a residential stay at our Gather Green basecamp in Kent during April, May, September or October and make huge savings! Daily rate is £49 per head or £245 for 5 days.
|Free Places for Teachers|
|Bursaries or Funded Places Available|
|Institute of Outdoor Learning|
Need more inspiration?
We are bursting with ideas on places that deliver first class teaching both outside the classroom and as in-school workshops. Below are a few similar suggestions to First Hand Experiences , or head to our tailor-made trip form and let us know how we can help you!