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- Think carefully about your accommodation 

There is an assumption that all accommodation is equal when it come to groups but thats not quite true. Dormitories are the norm for residentials whether thats hostel accommodation or onsite at a specialist residential centres. However there are several other ways which may be more affordable and add some exciting extra elements to the course.

Village Halls and Barns:
Many villages in the most beautiful parts of the country have a village hall unused most of the time and welcome groups to stay residentially. They are looking for help with running costs and not necessarily for making a profit. Many are fitted out with facilities, showers and a large kitchen. Expect to pay less than £5 a head per night. The group will need to bring a mat each to sleep but with comfy inflatable ones costing £10 today even if you passed the cost on you would be spending £10 a night  (for two nights).

Camping 
Camping can be great for residentials for many reasons it gets the group outside and playing - rather than huddled around the plug sockets, pushes the taking responsibility/self organisation agenda to the forefront and means you can go anywhere to shop for the best deals for accommodation and access to activities. There are many options for camping groups that give access to toilets, showers and plugs (for teachers mobiles). Camping is also easily scalable; the cost per head goes down in real terms so if you have a group of 100 you are either limited to a few industrial scale outdoor centres or free to arrange residential anywhere. Budget for £7 for toilets and showers head plus some capital. 

With camping we would suggest always owning your sleeping tents, it is affordable and easy to organise (we can help and even train your staff) and you know the condition of the tents you are arriving to - what if it rained last week or the last group wasn’t so tidy or careful on departure.
Journeys 
How about paying nothing for you accommodation, passing all of the cooking and cleaning to the young people - and them wanting the job, only using transport to get there and home, having young people keen to go to bed, and all the while having an awe inspiring experience. We are talking about journeying taking to the fells with modern lightweight equipment, traveling by foot, or boat and empowering the young people to take responsibly for their own independent living. Nothing in the fixed camp or residential experience comes close to the potential for learning and development available to a journeying group. Not only is the travel, cooking and even sleeping a developmental activity but the residential can include classic activities of a fixed base activity centre. Wake up at the activity venue, do an activity or two and walk off in the evening to the next venue. Journeys can include rock climbing, massive abseils (and smaller ones), canoeing, raft building (even crossing lakes as part of journeys), mountain biking, ghyll scrambling and many more. Budgeting is different no per head accommodation just an instructor staying overnight with each group. Journey residentials can also count as and lead people into the Duke of Edinburgh's award expeditions at either bronze of silver, or gold level.

Don’t forget where you are based affects the per head cost of transport - Location, location, location

Program carefully
Whole days are cheeper to run than half days and often the provider can pass on the savings to you. If you leave in the afternoon and arrive for evening meal time, spend the evening doing activities, spend the day or whole days doing activities and leave in the early evening or morning you cut out the half days

Cut your travel budget

Did you know that choosing accommodation in the wrong place could add up to £10 per head per day transport costs  and cut your activity time dramatically. Some charities get away with using amateur drivers and their own busses rather than professionals and are therefore able to hide the costs well - though often their overheads from being seasonal mean their prices are higher in other ways. If you have to drive an hour to a venue (and back again) you are also getting less activity and more sitting (and feeling sick) for the fees ( 2 hours less in this case). Our top example of a super budget residential for example uses accommodation right in the middle of the activity sites so there is no transport only action and adventure (transport is by foot and boat - both exciting in their own right). Some organisations can offer transport free residentials be sure to do a site visit to ensure you won’t be trapped inside fences and limited to activities on a small pond - if you are you might consider a school based residential and just drive to venues and leave the parents to feed and accommodate the children. 

- Cut out the right middle man

If you are in the market for a package of accommodation, food and activities; think about which middle man you want. Some places provide everything in house but many contract out at least part of the product to a third party. Each organisation takes a percentage to make their profits on the bit they don’t provide. To pay the smallest percentage go through the provider for the most expensive element - normally that will be the activity provider for a classic residential package, but could be the accommodation provider (if you self lead allot of elements) or the transport provider if coming from far afield. By going to the provider of the most expensive element and using their preferred accommodation provider and catering supplier (who they often have preferential deals with) you should pay the smallest mark up proportion and thus less in total. 

- Check what you are buying

Ensure you carefully check what you are quoted for - often those super value package prices have a few caveats;

They are often based on very specific group numbers often tens so if you bring fifteen the cost per head may jump dramatically the worst case scenario is you bring one more than their systems budget for and the price of the activity element may well be nearly twice the headline cost. Smaller organisations are often more flexible using more experienced staff so the prices are more likely to remain stable. 

Not all activities are born equal; consider what you are getting within that booking for a canoeing session are you going to be limited to floating around in a pond, are you limited to a small area because the cheeper staff are less experienced and qualified, will your session be run by unpaid teenagers, is the instructor mono qualified (only canoes, day in, day out until their sole is broken and their sessions bland), it often doesn’t cost more to buy high quality prices:the prices are often similar because junior staff and stock sessions; have higher oversight, profit markup and management costs than experienced paid staff. 

This is important because while the costs might be similar the value for money can be significantly different and maximising the value is important to the outcomes and sustainability of the residential experience. 

- Use Rental logic - invest in capital

School Residential and group residential costs can be dramatically reduced including in the first year by investing in your own staff and equipment. In much the same way as renting a house is more expensive per month than buying in the long run.

Your Staff- they are there, they are competent educators, and they are already paid for 

Many sessions can be run or assisted with your own staff they are educators in there own right with some training and confidence building they can reduce large proportions of the activity costs for a residential as well as integrate closely the school program and the residential experience into a cohesive learning package. 

We are keen to see teachers empowered to deliver parts of the program and out staff support and train for the the Institute of Outdoor Learnings - push to support teachers to build their out of classroom competencies through learning events.  We also train schools of groups of schools to run their own activities in house in everything from in-house orienteering, to advanced landscape exploration, to mountain walking and rock climbing. Investing in your staff can cut school residential costs every year.

Fully supported residential programmes gives you an expert course director and leaves us to worry about the risk assessments, equipment and local knowledge and empower your leaders to run activities at vastly lower costs. 

To never pay for an orienteering or bush craft session again expect to pay £200 or £300 once per leader saving in the region of £10 per head per activity. Ensure that your residential provider will allow you to run your own session - tip: some won’t, we will.


Your equipment — if its yours: you only pay once

Activity equipment
 
Some organisations don’t make their equipment available so if you want to run sessions you might have to buy your own still often saving significant amounts of money and having access to it both at base and on residential. £100 pounds worth of orienteering kit will be paid for in a single self lead session for example. 

Residential units 

Pop up tents are now so affordable that each child can be provided half of a tent (to share) an inflatable sleeping mat, sleeping bag and torch for £44 per person, send them home with the sleeping bag and recycle everything else (just once) and over two years thats £26 per person, over two nights for 2 years -  £6.50 per person per night. £6.50 per person per night to sleep in a tent that has be slept in at most 4 times and a brand new sleeping bag. £6.50 to have the independence to chose the best residential deals available and change location from year to year. 

To facilitate village hall use: use mats and sleeping bags only for £20,  and for ease make the residential come with a sleeping bag kick starting their potential for future adventuring and keep the mats facilitating £10 per person the following year. 

 

- Summery 

There are lots of options to make residentials possible for the modern families stretched budget, we are a small business specialising in making residentials of top quality, fairest cost and lowest organisational burden, without sacrificing the things that are most important. Contact us and we can talk you through how we can help build the very best residentials possible within your budgets whether thats by helping you tactically invest in equipment and staff, manage transport, and choose the best options for your desired outcomes 

Download the PDF Article

What is the least you can pay for a full residential package?

We specialise in high quality adventurous learning in the outdoors while the good news is we never scrimp on the quality of the fully paid professional staff - no volunteers, trainees or students guaranteed. We can run very efficiently with no middle men. See below for out ultimate low cost high quality example course.

Remember all our course below:

Run by fully paid professional qualified instructors

Provide high quality equipment

Use professional drivers and school buses for all transport - no instructor drivers

Employs instructors with a minimum of 5 year professional instructor experience and minimum instructor age of 25 years

The ultimate in low budget high quality easy book school residential?

£98 per person including catering, activities and accommodation.

Up to 20 People in one of our Village Hall accommodation units. Ground level sleeping on mats central heating, open fire, large commercial kitchen. Amazing location.

Using our easy self catering package - nothing harder than turning on the oven and doing the washing up 

Sample Activity Program

Sample Program

Morning 

Afternoon

Morning 

Afternoon

Evening 

Day One

Arrival with packed Lunch

Team challenge competition

Finale of team challenge competition

Day Two

Walk down to the waterfront shuttle ferry to Raft Building 

Stream Scramble and High Lake Dip continuing to the viewpoint

Self lead Nightline and Barbecue

Day Three

Bushcraft and Survival skills

Depart with packed lunch

Caveats

Based on small groups - Max 16 for year 5

You sleep at floor level on the sprung wooden floor

You need sleeping mats and sleeping bags - see rental logic

You sweep up and clean up on the way out.

 

 

Can this be even less?

Yes Take off £10 for running your own bushcraft/survival and team challenges (contact us for staff training)

Take off £5 for driving the group in your own transport to the raft building

Take off £15 for ordering and organising your own food

Take off £5 for arriving in the evening day 1 and leaving in the evening day 3 (2 whole days)

 

 

Our easy book easy do self catering system

Based on the numbers and dietary requirements we order and have delivered all you food. Breakfasts and lunches are a case of laying out on the tables the breakfast box and the lunch box.. Evening meals one night run a barbecue we deliver from the chip shop the other. We can upgrade to a member of helper staff if needed.

Evening meals - Lasagne, Barbecue and Fish and chips

Lunch - Readymade Sandwidge, Crisps, Flapjack and Fruit

Breakfast Cereal and Toast

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Mere Mountains Education

Outdoor education and adventure in the Lake District

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We provide inservice training for your staff to run activites and lower your costs

We provide full accomodation, activity and transport packages. Making us a one stop shop and your life easier

We are the Lake Districts YHA activity provider and can look after everything direct for your conivenicne

Can residentals be made affordable for all childeren?

We say yes with some thought and tactical decision making