It’s that time of year with the English school holidays beginning and parents searching around for ways to entertain or occupy the kids for a whole six weeks or so. Their dilemma is not quite so acute as the one felt by Turkish families with their fourteen week void to fill but it is a serious issue for many families nevertheless. One solution for at least some of the time is to book the Exodus Family Activity holiday .
Family Activity Week, hosted by Bougainville and centred in Kaş, for those families lucky enough to be able to afford a foreign holiday in these times of financial uncertainty, this holiday seems to me like an ideal prospect. As I have been (and will be this year) a guide for some of these groups in Kaş, I suppose you might accuse me of promoting these family holidays. To that I would retort that I have no particular axe to grind and would not dream of putting pen to paper in support of something which I was not whole heartedly prepared to endorse. As I was an only child, this is the kind of holiday I would have loved to have been taken on as my first task on any family summer holiday was to find a pal. Under normal circumstances a family holiday can be both enjoyable and a time of tension between the needs and preferences of children and adults. Not so on the Family Activity week here in Kaş.
In July and August there can be up to twenty four people in the group and this may well include both couples and single parents as well as children of all ages. So there’s a good start, the potential for bonding is high and conversely the potential for dissatisfaction or boredom is much lower than it would normally be. Also this is an activity week so by definition at least some members of each family have read the trip notes and know exactly what they are letting their brood in for. When the trip is booked each person must decide in advance how many of four activities they wish to opt for, these are a day trip to Limanağzı Bay, an expedition to Saklıkent Gorge and Patara beach, a diving experience and a sea kayaking expedition at Kekova.
Included for all there is also a night spent in a Turkish mountain village inland in a small settlement named Gürsu. Usually an impromptu game of football with the local children takes place followed by a village supper, Turkish dancing and games with the local children. This is followed by a night sleeping underneath the stars on the flat roof of the house. I wasn’t too sure how the latter activity would go down with some of the more worldly, possibly cynical English kids but in every instance my fears were unfounded. They all thoroughly enjoyed the experience throwing themselves with gusto into the simplest of children’s games with not an electronic device in sight and eyes lighting up when out came the skipping rope. In addition to all of this, for the families who still want more, there is the possibility to arrange extra activities when they have some free time. The most popular of these in the past have been a paragliding experience or a relaxing hamam (Turkish bath). It can usually be said that if the children are happy then so are the parents and with the groups that I have hosted that has certainly been the case.
Obvious precautions have to be taken, it is invariably extremely hot in July and August here on the eastern Mediterranean so all youngsters need a plentiful supply of sun screen and need to be reminded to take on board as much fluid as possible. I find though that with constant reinforcement at my daily briefings and plenty of information and preparation for each activity things usually go very smoothly and a positive experience is had by all.
The evenings can be another issue with children when the ideal agenda of the parents may well differ dramatically from the kids and involve the longing for a bottle of wine or two. To this end I usually offer the groups a few evenings spent together in a local restaurant for a communal dining experience. Usually this is taken up eagerly and some evenings are spent with a mixture of adults and children from all the different families.
Towards the end of the week I always consider it to be a sign of a successful week if the younger members of the party request to have their own table, this frequently happens. Turkish culture dictates that children are welcome everywhere and there are a few good local waiters who are particularly adept at making the whole dining experience an entertainment in itself with an array of jokes and, in a couple of cases, magic tricks.
All in all I think a Family Activity Week in Turkey is a much more fulfilling week with the family than the one that involved a few good sticks of rock, a donkey ride on the beach, a kiss me quick hat and rainy day visits to the amusement arcades.
(Many thanks to Alex Smith for his insights and comments on this tour)