Grow the grown ups

Grow The Grown Ups

With Joanna Watters

Grow The Grown Ups is our flagship programme for families, helping parents find the resources they need for conscious and connected parenting whilst providing safe and natural spaces for children.

Dates: TBC August 2021

Fees: £500 per adult / £200 per child 

Single Parent Families
A 10% single parent discount is available using the code: HappyFamily. Accomodation will be allocated according to the space available you may have to share a yurt with another family.

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.


Conscious parenting is brave and courageous work, which speaks directly to Embercombe’s commitment to the Children’s Fire.

Children who are raised with awareness and love, who are not shamed for their feelings and thoughts, who are given helpful loving limits and guidance in how to relate to their experiences are a resource to our communities and will grow up to be confident and competent leaders, whatever their field of interest.

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.

We all aspire to raise our children with love, but the ordinary pressures of how we live sometimes blur our capacity to connect with our deeper vision.

For all of us there are times when we are triggered by our children. Our reactivity points to aspects in us, which are underdeveloped from our own childhood, which we need to address if we are to parent as responsibly as we’d like to.

Our longing to parent well calls us to grow.

The proverb works both ways: “It takes a village to raise a child.” And “It takes a child to raise a village”.

“Grow the Grown Ups” is designed to value the important contribution you, as parents of young children, are making to our future and to support you to reap the benefits of the joys and challenges in parenting, individually and collectively.

Our programme is more than just a healthy family week with others in natural surroundings: what is unique is that adults have facilitated sessions as well as plenty of family time.

We give families a chance to realign with what is most important, and to reconnect deeply with each other. For the children this means having time with their adults, sharing simple activities together and having moments of undivided attention, as well as plenty of wide, open space in which to play safely with other children. For the adults this means having time to unwind away from the responsibilities of work and domestics, sharing with other likeminded parents, having time to enquire and re-evaluate what is most important, being offered structures to connect more deeply with themselves, each other and their children.

It is a chance to be “on retreat” with the family.

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

What You Can Expect

  • A week of community with like-minded parents and children
  • Inspiration and insights into ways to parent
  • Time in nature
  • 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 play and fun

Every morning we share simple craft or bushcraft activities in small groups, so that families learn and play together.

Lunch is served at 12.30

For 3 of the afternoons, the adults come together in a facilitated space. This is an invitation to focus 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 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.

The older children are based in the woods with the play team. 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 your family – occasionally parents stay with their child during the afternoon.

Mid week, on Wednesday, we have a free afternoon where families can spend unstructured time together, with optional informal games, stories, singing.

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.

The evening meal is early (5.30 or 6pm) so that younger children can get to bed. The yurt villages are quiet spaces from 7pm.

There are evening family games sessions, which parents are encouraged to join in with, followed by some story-telling or singing.

The evening entertainments finish early for a 9pm 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 Waters

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.

Fiona Barnes

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.

David Smart-Knight

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.

Helen Bourne

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.

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 35% discount on application.

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

Grow The Grown Up's at Embercombe

Grow the Grown Ups has – for two years now – been a really special week where we can reset our relationships with our young twins. It has given us a chance to spend very different time with them: looking at them and loving them deeply. They love it, and it’s very precious for us as a family. It’s a great privilege to be at Embercombe for the week. It’s a beautiful place where you feel supported and everyone on site helps this to be a really special time. There’s no other time like it in our year, and it helps us be better parents, and more courageous people out there in the world.
Father with partner and twins