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Grahame, Renegade dad
My daughter has very recently joined Renegades. It has given her access to activities that would normally be out of our means on such a regular basis, and she absolutely loves it. Having the ability to be exposed to so many different activities from canoeing, cookery, bushcraft, drone flying and carpentry, and numerous day trips out, can only be a good thing and is doing wonders for her mental health. The club is expertly run by Gareth and you get a real sense that everything he does is with the aim of enriching local children's minds. I can't recommend highly enough for your children to join up and get involved, Gareth and Renegades are a real asset to the local community!
The Renegades for me is more than just a club. On my first time at Renegades I was instantly welcomed by everyone. No matter our age or differences , you find that every single person is your friend. The leaders make sure everyone is introduced to new members, making you feel like you instantly belong there.
The leaders Gareth and Damian are absolutely brilliant. You could ask anyone who’s ever met them, and they would tell you that they are two of the most intelligent people. They have so many transferable skills that they pass down to the younger generation. These include cooking, carpentry, archery, drama, fishing, and Bex with her bushcraft skills. They also organise professionals from outside the club to come in, such as a local paramedic who taught us first aid and CPR. Gareth always says “If you have an idea and want to do something, then we’ll do it.” And he never fails to do so.
The renegades is a safe space where we learn new things and have so much fun along the way. Nobody is ever overlooked, no idea ever rejected, and the sky is our limit.
Thank you for starting and hosting Renegades in the first place as, if not, I would not have met such wonderful people and friends. To be honest at first I thought it was kind of strange that you’re not making any money or profiting from club, so why are you doing it? And it was then when I learnt that there actually are people that do things from the kindness of their hearts.
I like the Renegades because I get to do loads of activities that I wouldn’t usually do, like I wouldn’t’ve got into carpentry if it weren’t for Renegades. The fact that there are so many different things to do like cooking or drama means that, no matter what you like, there’s probably a session for it.
We can say anything that we want to do and you just do it. It doesn't feel like a formal club, just like I'm meeting up with friends and doing stuff.
While, needless to say, not everyone is best best friends with everyone else (that's just not realistic), we can all get along and be friendly with each other. This is important, because it shows that the adults have been able to keep us all together and not have us isolate ourselves.
Second, I like that we have a voice, and we are listened to. We are treated like young people, because we are. We are people, humans, worthy of respect and trust. And we're also young, and want to have fun and be taught about the world and how it works.
The Renegades has provided me with a great place to grow up. A safe place where I can play and learn things and set me on the right path as I go into the adult world.
Sarah, Renegade mum
My son loves the structured informality of Renegades. Everyone is very welcoming and friendly. The leaders are so enthusiastic, encouraging and supportive of my child. They work incredibly hard to provide a wide and varied programme of activities, which the Renegades members are encouraged to make suggestions to.
Dave, Renegade dad
The Renegades has been a real help to my son, helping him grow his confidence in his own abilities and in general.
School sports clubs and others didn’t provide him with what he needed and the varied activities with like minded children of all ages, not necessarily his friends, has helped him grow into a well balanced , well mannered 12 year old, performing well at school and able to converse and interact with adults and older children.
Boys need these sorts of groups and we are delighted and thankful to Gareth and Damian for all their tireless efforts
John, Renegade dad
My son has been a member of the Renegades since it started. He has loved the art workshops, overnight stays and mixing with a fabulous range of diverse and positive people.
The range of activities the Renegades offer and the enthusiasm which the staff deliver is always done with fun professionalism. The staff quite simply strive and provide the best opportunities possible for the group on limited funds. Thoroughly recommend.
Jenny, Renegade mum
In these past few difficult months Renegades has been just what we need. While everything else is cancelled, the organisers have put so much effort in to running a varied, regular programme of activities to appeal to all, and actively encouraged members of the group, siblings and friends to join in, in a safe, welcoming and encouraging environment.
Although my children have been reluctant to leave the house at times, two of them have absolutely loved the archery (undoubtedly helped by the encouragement given to them), and are keen to join in with the astronomy nights being offered. My youngest really likes the idea of the planned fishing days (although too young to join as yet), and I'm hopeful that soon my daughter will make it to one of the art sessions being run.
I wish there was an adult renegades club that I could attend!
What I like best about Renegades is the range of activities - you can experience so many different things there. Also even though there’s so much to do there, they keep on testing new things to do.
They also do a lot of Camping trips and other trips ,where you can do other things that you wouldn't do in the usual Renegade activities, like wood whittling. We stayed in the middle of nowhere instead of at a big Scout camp, which is much nicer.
I especially like the night walks with head torches, the archery and the cooking. I particularly liked making dumplings for Chinese New Year, and also helping with the cooking at the camp was fun.
I did Scouts when we lived in London, but I prefer Renegades because there are more things to do and you don’t have do one activity at a time. I also like the way we are involved in choosing the activities, because we get to do what we would like.
Overall Renegades is a really great organisation. I am so lucky that we have a local youth group like Renegades.
Sophie, Renegade mum
My daughter joined Renegades early this year and has not only mastered new skills but made some good friends. Her skills have improved in things she’s never tried before which has amazed me. Through lockdown Gareth sent recipes and activities to do at home which have given her the reassurance that her friends and the group were still there.
Since the club restarted my daughter has been lucky to go every week to at least one or more of the brilliant things on offer. Archery being one which she’s literally excited for every week now! The first session she tried back in December she was not so keen on it and now she’s shooting regular arrows at the targets and smiling a lot!
Living rural as we do, there is nothing like Renegades and it’s been a blessing. The club is and has been fantastic throughout lockdown and kept my daughter occupied and excited and able to see others at a sensible, safe distance.
Gareth and Damian are an amazing team that offer not only a lot of fun, but also are always there for the children and interested no end in what they can achieve! They have stepped up beyond any expectation to offer support to the children and parents. Thank you Renegades , my family can’t thank you enough you are truly exceptional!
Lotta, Renegade mum
As a parent Renegades has been invaluable to me. My child has a good group of friends and they rely on online gaming to interact outside of school much of the time. Living in outlying villages of a small town, getting face to face time with friends isn’t as easy as popping down the road to call, as I did at his age.
So the bulk of free time is spent online gaming and waiting for friends to come online or organised visits to and from friends. When they do meet, inevitably they are back on screens. Renegades is the group where the majority of his friends go together; hike, ramble, hang out, gaze at the stars, are trusted to finetune incredible telescopes to pinpoint areas of the night sky and make sense of it, learn to chop onions, make pizzas from scratch, foraging walks identifying what’s safe to eat from killers, camp outs, digging up clay and sculpting a bowl, Chinese fireworks and cultural insights from around the world. All this to a gentle chat about how these things relate to them and to their lives. While digging clay from a stream to make bowls, he learnt how this was part of Man's evolution; from making something to hold water, to decorating it and so on.
Even fundraising for Renegades involves the children. In a culture where parents organise everything and where parents pay (to children, often invisibly), the Renegades Christmas Fair involved the children too. Over the years I have made a lot of cakes for various PTA sales and attempted to involve my children unsuccessfully. Minimal interest. For the Renegades Christmas Fair he wanted us to make traditional Swedish Pepparkakor (thin ginger snaps) to sell in little bags, in the traditional shapes not often seen outside Scandinavia. I was impressed by his interest and thinking: Swedish Candles had been made to sell and he thought this complimented it. He planned ahead, making the dough days before (best flavour), then helped roll, cut, wash, bake, cool and carefully pack them in little bags. He stamped little labels and took them along to put out for sale.
At the sale, he decided that tasters may help drive sales so this shy 11 year old walked around asking people if they would like to try a traditional Swedish Pepparkaka and then led them over to the stall where the full bounty of delights parents and children had assembled was presented.
After lockdown, the loan of 3 single pop up tents meant that he and close friends could have a sleep over, camping in our garden. The children did not have their own small tents and it would not have been possible without Renegades resources. All the children enjoyed it and one overcame his fear of sleeping outside alone. My son slept outside for several nights, enjoying the night sky and stars, the hedgehogs visits and ‘some space’. The friendship bubbles have closely mirrored his Renegades bubbles, so our exposure hasn’t increased. The children have learnt the ground rules of COVID-19 prevention with ease by attending the group – change of clothes, wash hands, mask on then sanitise on arrival, social distance and so on. I think this experience regularly with a small group of friends has been so beneficial.
As a parent, I cannot thank them enough. For me, they have made such a difference. They provide balance in a world of organised playdates and working parents. They bring the outdoors into the world of children who would gladly spend all day staring at a screen or raging against the injustice of screen-free time, who are either not confident or not free to roam fields and woods as many of us did as children. Renegades also provide a seamless bridge between tweenies and teens through their activities.
As my son has told me many times Scouts give badges to show that they did / learnt something, but with Renegades they just do it, know they did it and why – no badge but it feels better because they aren’t proving it to anyone else, it was for them alone. His example is building a good fire – a badge doesn’t help you keep warm, building a good fire does.
Mark, Renegade dad
Living where we do in a remote part of West Sussex and writing as a parent of a current Renegade, I cannot express enough the importance of this youth group. Renegades provide the young people in the local area a place to meet up and take part in all sorts of activities that are stimulating, exciting and most of all fun in an environment with other like minded Renegades and all led by a team of highly motivated and dedicated leaders who want nothing more than for all to have a good time.
The group has come along way in the last year or so to the point that there is some interest in potentially looking at setting up a new section for younger member. Crucially Renegades provides a place for all to get out during these COVID times so from a mental and physical health point of view the meetings have been a life saver and again I commend the leadership and back office team which has meant a programme of events that run daily....carpentry, archery, astronomy, drama, bushcraft to name but a few and I know there are plans for hike camps, camping, canoeing to come hopefully.
Alison, Renegade mum
Renegades is a well run, friendly, welcoming club.
My son thoroughly enjoys the activities and camaraderie. Despite gatherings being very different since lockdown, attending Renegades has been an invaluable and safe way of getting the kids out of the house again, back with friends and enjoying some well overdue fun.
Essential for their mental health and wellbeing.
Laura, Renegade mum
Renegades is not just good, it's an amazing youth group! The range of activities available for the kids is above and beyond anything I've ever seen in any other youth organisation.
Both Damian and Gareth listen to what the kids want to be doing and plan activities accordingly. A recent example is that some of the kids expressed an interest in going fishing, and so fishing rods and other kit have been purchased.
My daughter loves going to Renegades. She particularly likes cooking, bushcraft, camping, carpentry and mechanics and archery. Actually she's a bit of a Robin Hood on the quiet! She can sometimes be a bit introvert and this group has been invaluable in enabling her to mix and cooperate with girls and boys of a range of ages. The fact that every child genuinely cares and looks out for each other is something that the group is very proud of.
Post lockdown, Gareth and Damian have worked extremely hard to ensure that the kids have socially distanced activities to enjoy. This has been so important for my daughter, and indeed the other kids, to feel less isolated, get out of the house and back to doing things they previously enjoyed. Activities on offer have been archery, carpentry, bushcraft, drama, art, and astronomy. There is also a socially distanced camp planned for later in the year.
I honestly don't know what my daughter would do without Renegades. It has brought her fun, friendship and adventure, which certainly cannot be gained from sitting at home on a laptop!
Gareth's drive and vision for what he wants to achieve for this youth group is
extraordinary. With assistance from Damian, he has turned a brilliant idea into a very successful reality.
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