My family and I have just got back home after an extended holiday which started with the HESFES home education event down in Kent.

I have to admit that I was a little wary before going – as it was my first time at HESFES (which has been annual now for 13 years) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and a few comments I’d read around the internet concerned me.

But I needn’t have worried. The place wasn’t overflowing with drugs (or drink, for that matter), there weren’t hordes of uncontrollable kids. There weren’t masses of social outcasts with bad body odour issues. What there were were around 500 friendly families camping in a huge field in a pretty spot by the river Medway.

The vast majority were just “normal” families like ours, and the atmosphere was laid back and relaxed. Organisation-wise I’m told it was better than last year, and in truth it was not bad – there were decent showers, plenty of toilets, several marquees and a programme of events which was largely accurate. Don’t expect military precision though, there’s a definite hint of hippy about it and, frankly, I think that’s great.

The main point of going, for us, was to mingle and give the kids a new experience. We made some new friends, as did the kids, and there was always something going on – whether copper beating, basket weaving, or even breakdancing (which our kids – 6 and 4 – enjoyed hugely and gave us the biggest laugh of the week). The choice to get stuck in or just chill was always there, and many people came in groups and I’m sure spent as much time relaxing with friends as taking part in the organised activities.

Looking back on the week, it’s clear that our boys got a lot out of it. Our elder lad, especially, joined in with things that we didn’t expect him to, which was great and really hammers home the education part of the event. Home Education, for those who don’t know, isn’t about subjects like maths and English – which are important of course, but not simply in their own right – it’s about learning a huge mixed bag of skills, social, physical and mental, and learning to put them together with context. That’s why Home Ed’ers are so passionate, because we see it as training for life rather than training in a subject. And that is what HESFES is all about, bringing people together to increment those skills another notch.

We’ll certainly be back next year.


About mikbarne
I'm a writer and freelance communications and collaboration consultant with nearly 20 years experience in UK telecommunications, specialising in VoIP, Unified Communications and Collaboration, and building effective communications architectures. Visit my Google+ Profile

2 Responses to HESFES 2010

  1. Neia says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write about HESFES. I am going this year with my 3 and 6 year old and am a tad nervous but what you’ve said is reassuring.
    Best wishes
    Neia Glynn

    • mikbarne says:

      Neia, I’ll be there again this year with my wife Ally and our kids Jake (7) and Nathan (5) – I’m sure you’ll have a great time, perhaps we’ll bump into you.

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