Parents Guide

Parents Guide to Arete

Outdoor Education Residentials at Arete Outdoor Centre

Please find below information for the parents and guardians of pupils wanting to book or already booked onto a course with Arete Outdoor Centre in North Wales. We will give reasons why a course at Arete will be beneficial for your child,  answering common questions and logistics on attending a course. 

Balancing on yellow raft, secondary school pupil laughing, canoe floating on Padarn lake.

“As a result of our week at Arete the students have emerged with organisation skills, self confidence, risk taking resilience and self management. It has been an invaluable week. … All [Arete] staff were focused on the delivery of high quality activities and food.”

Hodgehill College, February 2017

What is an Arete Residential?

for Parents and Pupils deciding to book on the school residential

Outdoor Residential

An outdoor activity course provides not only an immense amount of fun but also teaches many important life skills.  At Arete we care about all the individuals and make sure we provide memorable adventures, have patience to encourage pupils to have a go and a create an enjoyable atmosphere.

An outdoor residential will involve time away from home for your children, living, engaging and sharing memorable moments with their fellow peers. It is a week they won’t forget and often the highlight of their school career.  At Arete they will have the opportunity to stay in North Wales, with views of the mountains and being near to the sea. Throughout their stay there will be a huge variety of  fun outdoor activities they can participate in. The combination between outdoor adventure and an overnight stay with their peers allows for many educational benefits and life skills to be taught – which is why a residential course is an essential part of any child’s education.

“Learning Away has shown that a residential learning experience provides opportunities and benefits/impacts that cannot be achieved in any other educational context or setting” York Consulting 2015 report.

What is involved in an Arete Residential?

A residential at Arete has two parts to it – the outdoor activities and the overnights. 

Outdoor Activities: We have a full range of activities for all abilities. We quickly get to know the pupils abilities on activities, so that we can provide adventurous days out. We carefully choose the content so that the pupils are challenged and undertake impressive adventures, while at the same time making sure the goals are achievable.  We provide a mix of structured time and free time when the pupils are free to explore their new outdoor environment. During the day the pupils will be out and active the whole time they are on the residential. It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing we will find a sheltered venue, a suitable activity and supply the best kit to keep warm, it is all part of the experience and their learning.

Overnights: For some pupils it may be the first time away from home, for others the first time away with their classmates. Either way, to sleep over with their peers is an enjoyable experience. We encourage them to help around the centre in their groups, with some short 10 minute duties to take on some responsibilities.  This may be sweeping up, laying tables or putting away kit. They make their own beds when they arrive, create their own sandwiches each morning and need to pack their own kit bag each day. Of course staff are at hand to direct and oversee as required. As part of centre life we encourage the pupils to have an awareness of others they will be living with, so everyone gets along. 

Food is all home cooked with local ingredients, and there is plenty of it. All dietary requirements can be catered for. Breakfast consists of cereal, toast and a cooked option such as sausage and hashbrown or beans and egg. Dinner will have a main sit down meal, with options such as roast chicken, spaghetti bolognese, pizza and wedges or chicken curry with the option of a soup starter and a pudding. All main courses come with a range of vegetables or salad. Lunch consists of sandwiches, fruit, cake and crisps.

We hold the Learning Outside the Classroom badge, for which we were assessed on our accommodation and transport safety standards as well as the quality of our courses.

During free time there are games such as pool, table football or table tennis the group can use.  Most evenings there is an organised evening activity, after which it is not long before the group need to be in their dormitories. 

Location

Arete is based on the edge of Snowdonia and a 10 minute drive from Anglesey. As a result we can easily access the mountains, rivers and lakes one way and the sea and coastline the other. Each group is assigned a minibus, so the instructor can choose the best venues each day and not be limited by imposed timings. 

Comfortable Catered Accommodation

Arete Outdoor Centre offers comfortable dormitory rooms for male and female pupils and separate staff rooms.  The main centre and west-wing combined has 77 beds, which can be used by large or small groups.  It can be sectioned off to meet the requirements of different groups. We also have a self contained house, Bryn Eryr, sleeping 34. The centre offers catered and self catered options.

Education Benefits

for Arete Outdoor Education Residentials

Learning

What will you child gain from a course at Arete?

 

Working and participating in outdoor activities helps to develop children’s life long learning skills:

  • They are given opportunities to work as a team.
  • They work on their personal skills of negotiating and problem solving with other individuals and peers.
  • They learn to succeed at activities and look at ways to persevere through different challenges.
  • This helps them to develop confidence and self esteem.

RESEARCH SHOWS THAT CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE WILL USE NEW SKILLS DEVELOPED IN OUTDOOR SITUATIONS IN EVERYDAY LIFE:

They will improve their self esteem and their new found motivation can help to improve their education and attitude to other tasks. Most of all, children have the opportunity to experience exciting and adventurous activities having fun with their peers or on an individual basis.  They may forge new friendships and develop new hobbies and interests.

Group secondary pupils working together on beach for team building, reaching a stone part of a game

“Really impressed with all the instructors at Arete. They were very knowledgeable and went above and beyond to make our trip memorable. The students achieved so much on the trip from organisation skills to the ability to push themselves further.”

Walkwood Middle School, May 2017

Clipboard, hand noting field work river data

“The instructors made the river processes come to life as we ascended the gorge. We covered all aspects of our GCSE fieldwork study,and so much more!”

King Edwards VI Five Ways, May 2017

Safety

for Arete Outdoor Education Residentials

Arete Outdoor Centre has stringent safety procedures. We have clear safety policies and risk assessments in place to manage the safety of all activities and young persons staying in the centre. These are updated and monitored each year. We are proud of our excellent safety record.

Activities

We provide courses to schools and groups throughout the year and have an excellent safety record. The centre has been running outdoor courses for nearly 40 years, with a staff takeover in more recent years to secure the future of the centre.  All the instructors we use are highly qualified holding some of the highest National Governing Body (NGB) qualifications available  for working in the UK. Importantly they also have years of experience working in the outdoors.  We also have been passed to provide Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor qualifications supporting future instructors of other centres. Arete holds an Adventure Activities Licensing Authority license, which is overseen by HSE (Health and Safety Executive). This is a statutory requirement for working with under 18’s on adventure activities. We also hold the Adventuremark for those activities that are outside the remit of AALA license such as bushcraft and surfing. Our instructors are also members of professional bodies such as the British Canoe Union, Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI).

Accommodation

Our kitchens have been awarded the highest 5 star rating by the Food Standard Agency. We have up to date fire records, electrical safety records and gas safety tests meeting national standards. All of this is inspected as part of the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) badge that we have been awarded for residential centres. This badge shows to schools that we have been inspected for our all round safety as well as our quality of course provision. 

Transport

We have a fleet of minibuses which we use to transport the pupils to the many venues on offer around North Wales.  The vehicles undergo daily and weekly checks internally and 3 monthly checks to the garage.

All of our drivers hold D1 certification on their driving licenses. 

Kit List

for Arete Outdoor Education Courses

The Arete activity courses are held at outdoor venues across the mountains of Snowdonia and along the coastline of Anglesey. The changing weather adds to the beauty of the area and the sense of real adventure. For this reason it is important to pack and be prepared for all eventualities, to ensure a comfortable stay.

We have drawn up a recommended kit list below. At the centre we do have specialist kit for the outdoor activities that includes waterproofs, fleeces, walking boots and wetsuits. These can be used by all course members, but feel free to bring any of your own items too. Please don’t bring along any new or expensive items of clothing that aren’t designed for the outdoors. Be prepared to be a muddy and wet at times.

Note the centre isn’t responsible for any expensive or treasured items, and we recommend such items are left at home.

  1. One fitted single sheet, pillowcase and duvet cover, or a sleeping bag plus single sheet and pillowcase (to protect our pillows and mattresses) if you would prefer. (This is to keep charges as low as possible. The school may of requested linen hire, please check). Duvets and pillows are provided.
  2. At least two pairs of thick ski or walking socks with a ‘loopstitch’. Thin socks are hard on the feet and cause sores and blisters.
  3. At least two warm jumpers or fleeces with long sleeves.
  4. Two pairs of warm trousers to wear during activities. Track suit bottoms are quite adequate. Please don’t bring jeans for activities as they aren’t suitable.
  5. A different T-shirts or similar to wear each day during activities. Thermal tops are ideal if you have any.
  6. A warm hat and a pair of gloves plus sun hat and sun cream to cover all weather options.
  7. 2x Shorts and swimwear. Extra old shorts to wear over the top of the wetsuits.
  8. Underwear and nightwear.
  9. A set of casual clothes to wear around the Centre during the evenings.
  10. Toiletries and two large towels (one large enough to preserve modesty whilst changing outside, one for the bathrooms).
  11. Pocket money if you wish to use the onsite souvenir and tuck shop.
  12. Torch with spare batteries.
  13. At least one pair of old normal trainers to wear during water sessions and a dry pair for land activities and travelling to venues. Sturdy trainers with laces rather than thin soled slip-on shoes. Not football AstroTurf shoes as the rubber is too hard and slippy on rock.
  14. Sandwich Box and 500ml water bottle (any plastic bottle will do).
  15. Medication if necessary.
  16. Carrier bag to return wet/dirty clothing.
  17. If you have your own waterproofs, walking boots, wetsuit or wellies please feel to bring them along to use on activities.
Orange sea kayak beneath black & white light house with Secondary school, Anglesey

“Great food and a friendly atmosphere around the centre. Everyone was always keen to help and make you feel welcome”

Royal Grammar School Worcester, March 2017

Clipboard, hand noting field work river data

“The instructors made the river processes come to life as we ascended the gorge. We covered all aspects of our GCSE fieldwork study,and so much more!”

King Edwards VI Five Ways, May 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

by Parents for an Arete Residential Course

Below is a list of frequently asked questions by teachers and group leaders before attending a course. If you still have a question on any aspect of the outdoor centre or activities provided please feel free to contact us.

We provide an extensive range of outdoor activities on land, water and underground. Examples of these can be found on the website. The exact combination of activities always varies as we tailor each course for individual groups.  The course will reflect the groups aims and aspirations, which could be curriculum based, team work, leadership or adventure amongst others. Each morning we will make a decision on how the group are developing, their preferred options and the weather, in order to choose the best venue for the day.

Lots of activity! For a full day they will meet the activity instructors at 0930 and head out into the mountains and valleys of Snowdonia, or over to the coastline of Anglesey returning to centre around 1630 to 1700. Through exploring the different venues they will take part in many differnt activities.  For example, the gorge can include scrambling, swimming, jumping, rock climbing, abseiling, zip line, team building and weaseling. In the evening either the visiting staff or our instructors will provide extra fun activities such as orienteering, night walks, team building or beach games.

On all the beds are quilts and pillows. Most groups prefer to bring their own sheets, duvet covers or sleeping bag and pillow case. Please speak to your child’s group leader or teacher to discuss what has been arranged. Arete Outdoor Centre can provide bedding if this has been pre-arranged.

At the centre we have a tuck shop where children can purchase food, drinks and souvenirs. The tuck shop will be open in negotiation with teachers and group leaders. Young people will be responsible for their own money and Arete Outdoor Centre will not be accountable for any loss.

It is up to the school or youth group whether young people are allowed to bring their own electrical equipment. It will be the responsibility of individuals to look after their own personal equipment. 

We recommend they don’t bring any computers or tablets as we feel the change by cutting out screen time during the week is beneficial. It is normal that if pupils bring mobiles, they are put in security boxes and used only at designated times for communication home. 

It is best to come though the centre to contact your child in an emergency. The office number is 01286672136 or 07743336093. Alternatively contact your school and they will speak to a visiting teacher. 

The school staff and instructors can help pass on any news and provide support if needed. Equally if your child passes on any concern direct to yourself while away on the residential please contact us as we can often quickly resolve the issue once we know.

Please go to the kit list section for a recommended list.  Arete Outdoor Centre will provide all technical equipment and safety kit. We also have an extensive store of waterproofs, wetsuits, boots and fleeces to keep students warm and dry.

All the instructors and the centre have £5 million liability insurance but if you wish your child to be personally insured or cancellation insurance they will need a separate insurance.