Saturday, 5 July 2008

Back from HESFES!

Wow! What a week!

Just back from a fantastic week at HESFES (Home Educators Seaside Festival) and a week of workshops, discussions, rather too much wine, plenty of fresh air, heaps of music, making new friends and general recharging of home education batteries. So much happened over the week it's hard to remember it all. I thought I'd post some of the pictures and movie clips to give an essence of what we experienced.

And the weather was hot hot hot! Now that HAS to be a first! I think in the past 10 years of camping with the kids we've only once had consistently hot weather while on a camping trip. And there was me, having packed mostly jumpers and just one skirt! Ah well...

For those of you who don't know about HESFES it's one of the largest gatherings of home educators and takes place annually on a campsite in Essex. This year there were workshops on weaving, karate, spinning, drama, willow work, circus skills, creative writing, woodwork, and a whole heap more. As always, there was a home ed conference which discussed various issues in the home ed world - sometimes 'big' issues, and sometimes more practical day-to-day issues. It was a wonderful opportunity to speak to other home educators, people who have come to the same decision from often very different backgrounds.

Listening to the music in the marquee

Speaking to other home educators is perhaps my favourite partn of HESFES. When you are surrounded by hundreds of other home ed families all doing the same thing - albeit in different ways - there is a huge sense of being part of a community. Despite knowing many other home educators, home education can sometimes feel like a lonely business, something you have to constantly explain and defend to people around you. One of the fantastic things about HESFES is that for once you don't have to explain anything to anyone!

Bouncing around HESFES

Do you like my new bandana?

My other favourite part of HESFES is seeing the confidence and talent of children as they get up on stage and do 'their thing'. For many it is music, for others it's poetry or dance or comedy, but you can tell that whatever they get up on stage and do, the whole experience is so empowering. Last year the children's cabaret, as it is called, lasted nearly 5 and a half hours! Thankfully this time it was split into two events, but it was still several hours each night. So many children and so much talent and individualism! And the audience is always very generous in its support!

Adults too take part on the last evening in the End of the Week Show, showing their talents and things that they have learnt during the week - or during their lifetime. My children haven't wanted to go on stage yet, but perhaps one year.

Some of the children's acts are below. I wouldn't normally upload photos of people who haven't given permission to be on here, but this time I don't have much choice. Hopefully they'll forgive me and just enjoy the extra publicity!

The 'Drum Off'

Another HESFES children's cabaret performance

Adult performance at the End of the Week Show

One of the hesfes kids decided that they wanted to hold a dog show, so between them and their friends they managed to sort out some classes, drum up support, fence off a show arena, make prize rosettes and find some willing 'judges'. Sadly Jack didn't win anything (probably something to do with having another 20 or so dogs to distract him), but I definitely think he should have got the prize for the waggiest tail! In his defence, I think by the time of the dog show he was hot, tired and having barked almost continuously for the first part of the week probably had a rather sore throat!

The dog show. As you can see, Jack was just a teensy bit distracted...

This is my doggy

So what else did we get up to? Well I managed (with the help of the kids) to make toffee popcorn and peanut brittle on the camping stove. I was really proud of our cooking achievement, though my neighbouring friend somehow managed to make hot cross buns on her camp stove. I can't even make them at home and she managed to make them without an oven! Ok ok, so I was a bit envious...

Making peanut brittle (and yes, that IS a saucepan full of sugar!)

Chocolate spread - an essential ingredient for camping!

Cuddling up by the campfire

Well this is just a very hurriedly put together piece on HESFES which really doesn't do it justice. But it's late, and I'd better finish now as we've got a busy day tomorrow. Hopefully I'll post more in a week or so's time and then I'll get back to more regular blogging.


Carolyn said...

Despite you saying that your posting doesn't do HESFES justice, it has certainly made me think about taking the boys next year!!! It sounds and looks fantastic. My boys wouldn't want to get up on the stage but would definitely enjoy watching all the others!!!

educatingmummy said...

Hi,enjoying reading the home ed blogs on this ring ,which I've joined.

HESFES sounds inspiring,not got there yet,maybe one day!

Like what you say on your blog about home ed families being different. The freedom to be ourselves is so important.