Designed to be exciting, challenging and fun, Poppy Adventure Breaks take place around the country for service kids. Last summer, community support development workers (CSDWs) from Newcastle and Catterick delivered a getaway with a difference for 12 service youngsters. It combined arts, culture and the chance to live side-by-side on a farm in rural Northumberland. Army&You spoke to Bethan (9), one of the lucky dozen who took part…

BETHAN has lived in six houses, attended three nurseries and two primary schools. Her soldier dad is away all week, coming home most weekends. She misses him. Mum Janette is a teacher, spinning lots of plates to look after the family.

Although initially uncertain, Bethan said: “Lisa, the CSDW for Newcastle, told me and my mum about the breaks. I was nervous about meeting new people, but I am not any more and was so glad I chose to go.

“The best bits were holding the fluffy microphone to record sounds, which was a big responsibility. I liked swimming outside and the buffet was good.”

Bethan relished communal living and recalled: “The bunkhouse was cosy and I enjoyed sharing a big bedroom with other girls. Me and Mia made a pudding with meringues and fruit, and everyone ate it.”

The break created lots of happy memories, but Bethan’s confidence has also skyrocketed: “Recently we had auditions at school for a big production of Annie. I couldn’t have done that without my new confidence. I even have a solo part.”

Janette agreed: “The opportunity for Bethan to try things without the usual safety net of her family has really helped her grow. Seeing older girls enjoying life and succeeding was reassuring for her.

“Since we moved, we haven’t lived within a significant service community and the break has been a chance for her to connect with her peers and share experiences of army life.

“A sense of belonging and being understood is important – even more so for children from military families.”

Vital learning

Lisa is an enthusiastic advocate for residential trips: “The chance to live alongside peers and adults outside the family unit is exciting and offers a platform for accelerated learning.

“When you’re living with people you may not know all day, you learn a lot about yourself and about the skills you need to build relationships and challenge misconceptions or prejudices.

“We see children grow in self-esteem, confidence and assertiveness, and become more willing to continue trying new things. Residentials offer the chance to take managed risks in a safe environment be it abseiling, barbecuing or exploring a busy city.

“They are particularly vital for children from service families, who may be isolated from social and cultural opportunities.”

Find a Poppy Break near you at, contact your local AWS community support team or visit 

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