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Ukrainian Refugee Day at Cumulus Outdoors

September 27th, 2022

On Saturday 24th September 50 Weymouth and Dorchester-based Ukrainian refugee children and family members were able to set aside the horrors of the invasion of their country when they were treated to a fun day out at Cumulus Outdoors Adventure Centre in Swanage.

The children took part in a range of outdoor adventure activities including bushcraft, archery, circus skills, aeroball and much more. The day provided an opportunity for Ukrainian families to interact socially and network together as a group. They took full advantage of all the enjoyment and connection throughout the day.

Reverend Nick Clarke (Team Rector for Radipole and Melcombe Regis) wanted to do something to help the large number of Ukrainian Refugee families currently living in Weymouth and Portland, to escape the horrors of the Russian invasion of their country. He contacted the Ukrainians, and the people supporting them, and the idea of providing a fun day out emerged.

It truly was a wonderful time, not just for the Ukrainians but also the organisers and helpers. The Cumulus Outdoors staff were also deeply moved by the joy they enabled for the Ukrainian children.

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  • Ukrainian refugee day aeroball
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The Directors and staff at Cumulus Outdoors were delighted to receive this from one of the organisers:

Hi Sam (and Nick, Gail, Malcolm and Jannie)

Thank you so very much for what you, your amazing staff and your company did on Saturday. It truly was a day of days.

Your staff were out of this world in terms of professionalism, communication, accessibility, energy, enthusiasm and friendliness throughout the day. They will be fondly remembered for a long time by fifty Ukrainian children and parents who must be going through hell. The respect and connection was really obvious at the end of the day.

The activities and your site were also fabulous. Thank you so much, for so much, including help with lunch, extra cakes baked by your staff, brilliant fun and leadership on a good range of activity, and such an obvious welcome and positivity all day. Thank you also for your support throughout this venture; your encouragement and general good feeling I have received from start to finish.

It should, further, be lauded from the hilltops how well received the incredible gifts of the new, high-quality, sleeping bags were. As you see in my media report, one of our key objectives was to help build connections within the Ukrainian group themselves (in support of the wonderful work being done by Gail Reynolds) and, within minutes of the sleeping bags being handed out, there were many arrangements being made for sleepovers (I think many of these happened last night – I hope they got to school today!)

I have a long history of outdoor leadership, having led over 600 school residential adventure trips (mainly Dartmoor) and a number of international projects (India, Kenya, Romania), and I know what good leadership means. I saw plentiful evidence of the very best leadership with your staff on Saturday

There has already been much discussed what happens next. I am sure everyone would love to take advantage of your kind offer of coming again to Cumulus Outdoors. I know you will be closed for the winter soon; perhaps we can arrange something early next season/spring to include water activities as you suggest?

I am hoping to explore an evening party for the Ukrainian group (perhaps with their UK hosts) in the not too far distant future at St Aldhelms Church Centre (Hall) to include meal, music and dancing, games and all sorts. If this goes ahead, perhaps some of the Cumulus staff who are still around could join us for the evening – maybe even run some activities? I will get back to you when I know more.

Then there’s Christmas of course!

God Bless and thanks again

buchcraft session during Ukrainian refugee day
sleeping bag donations at cumulus outdoors

Here’s some of the wonderful comments we’ve received:

“What an amazing day! So much fun, games and laughter. Great team spirit, beautiful food and drinks all day! The activities kept everyone smiling and I’m just so grateful for this wonderful day trip to all our Ukraine families. Together we can make a difference. And a huge thank you for our leaving gifts of brand-new sleeping bags for everyone!”

“Thank you! Thanks everyone who participated in the organization of our unforgettable journey! I looked at our children and thought that it was extraordinary. They are alive, they are happy, they are again under the clear sky getting fun and not in basements with armed missile attacks. They laughed and did not mention the war. They did mention Ukraine only. Thanks to all who created our celebrate. God bless you!”

“Thank you for a wonderful trip and such a happy day. You are simply incredible people. I never cease to be amazed at your sincerity, kindness, dedication.”

Future plans

The Radipole Churches and Weymouth Rotary Club are now planning for future events for our Ukrainian sisters and brothers. Cumulus Outdoors MD Sam Thompson said:

“I know I speak on behalf of the team when I say it was an absolute pleasure to host. Constant smiles, plenty of ‘thank you’s’ and lots of love and memories made. We would welcome the opportunity to do something again, perhaps some water sport activities next time!”

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