Grow the grown ups

Grow The Grown Ups

With Joanna Watters

A unique family camp spending time in connection with ourselves, each other and the land

2020 Dates TBC

Times: 2 pm Sun. 26th – 4 pm Fri. 31st May

Fees: £200 per adult / £90 per child 

Limited bursary places will be available at 35% discount on application.

This is glamping rather than camping, in a beautiful yurt village – with showers and toilets and indoor facilities.


During this week, we will take the view that parenting is an honour, a privilege and at the same time a challenge and an invitation to grow. It is brave and courageous work which speaks directly to Embercombe’s mission to kindle the fire for the children of the future. Parenting is direct action for change.

The proverb works both ways: “It takes a village to raise a child.” And “It takes a child to raise a village”. Children who are raised with consciousness and love, who are allowed their feelings and thoughts, who are given helpful loving limits and guidance in how to socialise, are a resource to our communities.

They trust their intuition and their hearts as well as their minds.  They expect to love and be loved.  They intuitively know when something is out of integrity.  These children will be ready to step up as our next leaders to steer our world back on track where it has become imbalanced.

When we are able to witness a child’s natural confidence of being, and listen to the unlimited thinking of their mind, when we can open ourselves to share their moments of delight in simple things, and to hear their emotional pain when hearts close, we adults can be touched, restored and brought back into alignment with our essential trusting and creative nature.

This is not a week about telling you how to parent your child. We will be exploring together the Parenting by Connection model, in particular practising two of the tools: Special Time and Listening Partnerships. For more information on this approach, see

Is This For You?

Children are very accurate mirrors.  Even those of us who are not in any kind of parenting crisis can benefit from support to understand how to navigate family life – how to find the balance between everyone’s needs, how to mature as adults, so that we can parent our children from a wise responsible adult place.  When we are reactive towards our children, there is always something for us to face in ourselves.

Grow the Grown Ups Wild gives parents practical and emotional support to do this work.  We take away the daily tasks of shopping, cooking, driving, entertaining, earning, emailing for a week so that you can give yourself, each other and your children some quality attention in a simple, natural, supported village environment.

What You Can Expect

  • A week of community with like-minded parents and children
  • Inspiration and insights into ways to parent
  • Time in nature and community
  • Respite from daily domestic and work concerns
  • A holiday from technology for the whole family
  • Guidance to reflect on and realign with core family values
  • Family learning, play and fun

Every morning we share simple and fun activities in small groups, so that families can learn and play together. These might include bushcraft, crafts and music, or time spent out in the woods and gardens.

In the afternoons, the adults come together to discuss, listen, learn, share and re-focus on what really matters to you as a parent. The invitation for these sessions is to come to a space where you can focus attention on yourself, relax and review your core values as a parent, identify the trigger points in your parenting and be introduced to, or reminded of, the Parenting by Connection framework and practices that help us to understand and support our children’s and our own emotions.

Parallel to these adult group sessions in the afternoon are well-staffed play and crèche groups, offering safe and engaging activities for all the children.

The crèche is in the room adjoining the adult group space, so that parents of the youngest children can move freely between the crèche and the group work, as their child needs, supporting secure attachment.

The Play team base themselves in the woods and the ethos is to allow the children to experience being in nature without an educational or goal-driven agenda, so these sessions are deliberately child-led and low stimulus.

You will do what works best for you – occasionally parents stay with their child during the afternoon.

Simple ceremony is also an important ingredient of the week. We light a candle as a symbol of the Children’s Fire each time we gather, we have morning meeting circles, optional gratitude circles, an opening and closing ceremony.

On Wednesday afternoon there is no play session or adult session – families are encouraged to spend time on the land. We have singing and informal games and families get involved with pizza making.

There are optional evening gatherings, usually story-telling, with an open mic night on Thursday, which all finish for a 9pm whole camp bedtime.

This is a fully catered programme – we don’t ask parents to get involved with domestics.

Each family is offered a 20 minute individual check-in with our lead facilitator.


Joanna Watters

I’ve known about Embercombe since Spring 2008 when I was introduced by friends whose children were part of a Steiner school residential.  I loved what I found, how Embercombe’s core mission is to grow people, and to strengthen connection to where and how we live, and I felt inspired to bring another strand of work in addition to the already brilliant education work: to specifically and directly support parents with the challenges of parenting, and thereby acknowledge the place of conscious parenting in cutting edge activism.

With the support of others, I devised our Grow the Grown Ups programme, a residential family week specifically developed to support parents of young children into authentic realistic conscious parenting, valuing our connection to ourselves, to each other and to our environment.

Joanna Waters

Fiona Barnes – Host

For me Embercombe starts with the land and the children:

I love the land and want to be part of it, to know it in greater depth each day – to become ‘reindiginised’ (a new word meaning for people to become reconnected to ‘their’ land).
I feel drawn to care for the animals; to care for them in a way that resonates with me and with Embercombe, i.e. to interact with them through connection…

For the children it’s all about connection. To grow to be healthy adults who can make a difference in our world, they need connection to their adults, themselves and the land. I am committed to a way of being with children that allows them to find themselves. I am interested in bringing the Hand In Hand approach in to our daily lives (with or without it’s title), it provides a solid framework for adults and children to grow.

I feel that my role is part of the development of Embercombe’s work – enabling parents to deepen in their vital work as leaders for their children, for the children to be given the foundation to deepen through their connection to themselves and for the animals to assist in that by being part of our daily lives.

Fiona Barnes

David Smart-Knight – Camp Manager

For 25 years I have asked: “What does it mean to live sustainably?”

This simple question has led me through wildwoods, urban jungles, bramble thickets, and corporate fortresses. I’ve sat high in boardrooms of multinational corporations and crept into the heat of the womb of the sweatlodge, and my conclusion is that, in a world as impoverished as ours now is, “sustainability” is a completely inadequate ambition.

What we actually need is regeneration, and if we are to understand regeneration and create a regenerative culture, we have to work on re-establishing our connection: connection with ourselves, with each other and with nature. I have come to understand that our ability to evolve a benign human presence on this planet is in direct proportion to our ability to connect. Which is why it gives me such pleasure to be able to support this Grow the Grownups programme.

In the wider world beyond Embercombe, I spend my time between my deep-nature connection business, the complexities (and joys) of single-parenting two teenagers, and supporting the Regenerative Culture strand underpinning Extinction Rebellion.

David Smart-Knight

Helen Bourne – Creche Lead

I have always believed in the crucial importance of our early years. This time makes a difference to our relationships and learning for the rest of our lives. At the centre is our parenting.

I have become increasingly passionate about parents and the amazing work that we all do. Parenting is not valued as it should be in our society and there is never enough support.

Our Grow the Grown Ups programme provides an amazing space to enjoy support, play and love in a beautiful and well loved environment.

Helen Bourne

Upcoming Dates & Booking

We aim for all our courses to be as accessible as possible and if necessary it is possible to arrange for payment by installments. 

There are also a limited number of bursary places available for this course at £935 for a family yurt or £460 for a single parent shared yurt on application.

If you have any questions please call +44 (0) 1647 252 983 or email

Grow The Grown Up's - 26 - 31 May at Embercombe

I wanted to express my deep gratitude to Joanna, Tim, the host families, Play Team and all the amazing staff at Embercombe for the incredible space that you create and hold together. It’s immense and I love that as a family we can experience such richness and depth of being in such a safe and cherished space. We will be back!
Mother with partner and 2 children