Children hopped, skipped and jumped to Badgemore School for this year’s Henley Outdoor Play Scheme (HOPS). The five day event promised endless fun for children aged 5-12 years old, with a variety of activities to keep them occupied for hours on end.
HOPS has been a highlight of the summer holidays in Henley for over 40 years, and with each year more exciting than the last. Kids were able to escape their parents for the day and immerse themselves in a huge array of crafts, tasks and games. With each room dedicated to a different activity, children could have a go at woodwork, make a mess with arts and crafts, or cook up a storm in the baking area. Amy O’Connor, who led the baking room, said, “The kids have all been able to make their own individual things, but working in a group as well. It’s all been good fun and they’ve really enjoyed it, and actually eating it straight away out of the oven has been great.”
Alongside the daily changing cookery menu was a show, whose star performer changed throughout the week. The newly adapted ‘festival room’ (formerly the beauty room) proved to be hugely popular amongst the young guests. Amelie, 9, expressed, “I love HOPS so much; it’s my first time here. My favourite room is the festival room because you can get your nails done and tattoos and also hair braids, which are my favourite bit.” Her friend Tara (also 9) agreed, stating, “My favourite place is the festival room because you can get hair braids and tattoos and it’s really cool.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be HOPS without the outdoor entertainment. Even the rain towards the weeks’ end couldn’t deter the children from battling it out in laser tag or playing on HOPS’ fairground of inflatables. Emma Taylor, chair of HOPS, said, “The weather has been brilliant up until today, so that’s been really great. We’ve got a lovely site here with trees and Badgemore is a really nice place to be. The children took a little while to settle in and find their way around, but now they’re loving it as always, and having a great time.”
This was the second time that HOPS has been held at Badgemore, having traditionally been based at Trinity Primary School. However, after an increase in hire costs for the original venue, HOPS was relocated to Badgemore School for 2018. Emma Taylor commented, “Trinity wanted to raise the fees to more than double what we’d been paying before and it wasn’t financially viable for us, unfortunately. We would’ve made a loss, so we needed to find somewhere else. It’s a shame because it’s always been at Trinity for most of the 40 years.”
Despite the change in location, the annual HOPS holiday club was a storming success, providing hours of fun for Henley’s kids. Wherever it’s hosted in 2019, it’s bound to be the same.