Reporter Kris Tatum talks to a husband and wife team about how an idea for a week-long holiday camp has turned into a thriving business.

WHEN West Linton couple Ian Reid and Lindsay Mann decided to try holding a holiday camp for local children in the summer of 2005, little did they know it would strike a chord with parents and youngsters alike.

In fact, it was so successful, they set up the Pentlands Activity Camps (PAC), located just outside the Tweeddale village.

The camps, which have seen hundreds of children attend over the years, are run during the Easter and summer school holidays.

PAC Co-director Ian explained how it all started: “Myself and Lindsay were interested in establishing something for the children in the local area.

“That interest was born out of having a young family ourselves with three daughters, around 30 years professional experience in childcare between us, and a real interest in what was going on locally.

“There’s a facility down the road from us in West Linton, Broomlee Camp, which is a beautiful, rural, woodland outdoor centre.

“So we tried the idea of a holiday camp for a week in August 2005, and around 50 kids came along. They all enjoyed themselves, made friends, had good adults around them to keep things safe and organised, but at the same time, they had a sense of freedom.

“For us, it wasn’t about creating a sophisticated outdoors area, it was just about going to play, and the kids thrived on it.

“Whether it was going down to the pond at Broomlee to build dams, creating dens in the woods, playing hide and seek, or just hanging around chatting, they loved it.”

And the glowing comments from parents and children alike spurred Ian and Lindsay to develop the camp further.

“The feedback from parents was that it reminded them of the summer holidays they used to have, where there was an endless sense of time, and things weren’t rushed. There was just time to be and play, rather be super organised.

“That struck a chord with what working parents across the area were looking for.

“They wanted somewhere for their children to go during the school holidays, where they would be tired at the end of the day.

“Kids were coming home saying it was great, and they wanted to go back, so it met a need for both parents and children, and we have quietly grown and grown by word of mouth.”

Ian’s wife, Lindsay, added: “As the camp has grown, our opening times have too.

“We are open for five weeks in the summer and a week at Easter.

“Over the past few years we have introduced specialist camps, starting with a football camp, and in recent years Gary Mckay, who played for Hearts, came along to coach the children.

“We also run a cooking camp, with Dave Hodson from Tweeddale Youth Action, plus a bushcraft camp, drama camp and rugby camp, all of which have proved popular.”

Since the launch in 2005, the family-friendly camp has remained true to its roots.

Ian said: “The ethos of PAC is to make each child feel unique and valued. Friendships, having a good time and teamwork is hugely important for us, as the children have a chance to learn new life skills.

“A lot of these skills are learnt in a school, but the environment we make for for kids is enough to make it feel as if they are learning because they want to, not because they have to.”

Also part of the team is 26-year-old Sally Brown, who has been working with PAC for the past 10 years.

She initially joined as a volunteer, later becoming a group leader.

Now, alongside Lindsay, she helps organise and manage the day-to-day running of the camps.

Sally said: “I don’t see working here as a chore at all, it is great fun, knackering, but all hugely rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of the kids at the end of each day.”

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