Frequently Asked Questions
What happens on a normal day at Upcott?
After having breakfast together we run an action packed programme of games, teaching, worship and activities throughout the morning for Smileys and Tweens, and for the older groups we have a time worship, teaching and discussion. Then we have lunch and the afternoon is spent doing something fun (e.g. video game, wide games on Exmoor, sports, day trips). There is usually the opportunity to go swimming every day in our pool. For the older groups there is often a short session of teaching or discussion at the end of the afternoon. Then we have dinner, and the evening is spent in extended and creative times of worship, pray and teaching. The day is finished with hot chocolate and sometimes a game. There is also plenty of free time to hang out with friends and relax.
What do you believe?
What qualifications and experience do your team have?
Upcott was founded in 1968, so we have 50 years of experience in Christian youth work.
Andrew, who leads the team at Upcott, has been involved in Christian youth work for over 25 years. He studied at Romsey House Bible College and was a youth pastor for 10 years. In 2001 he took on the leadership of Upcott with his wife Fiona.
All of our team and helpers are DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service – previously CRB) checked and we have a rigorous application process ensuring all our helpers have the skills and character needed to work with young people. A large number of our helpers are trained teachers.
We have a trained lifeguard on team and all of the team and long term residents have up-to-date health and hygiene certificates and first aid training. Our residential team also attend other youth work related training throughout the year.
What is your swimming pool like?
It is a heated, outdoor, 10 metre pool. The deep end is 1.5 metres and the shallow end is 1 metre. When the pool is in use, we always have a trained lifeguard present as well as other helpers both in the pool and on the edge making sure everyone is safe. Diving is not allowed, but there are times when we do allow jumping in.
Do you cater for young people with disabilities and additional needs?
Unfortunately, we currently don’t have accommodation that has wheelchair access. However, we do have plans drawn up and hope that this is something we can offer in the near future. If your child or young person has other special needs we will do our best to cater for them, but please contact us to discuss this further.
My child has a dietary requirement
All our food is home cooked on site by our team and we cater for vegetarians and allergies and will make every effort to cater for other dietary requirements. Please advise us at least two weeks prior to arrival so we are able to make the necessary arrangements.
What does my child need to bring?
You will be sent information about the week including a kit list about a month before your visit.
For a summer week, this list includes: a Bible, pen, notebook, backpack, waterproof coat, 2 pairs of outdoor shoes (trainers/boots), slippers or indoor shoes, towels, swimwear and suncream.
I’d like to send my child on an Upcott Week, but I can’t afford it…
We have to set prices to take account of our rising costs but at the same time we recognise that some families may struggle to find funds to pay for Upcott Weeks. To spread the cost, we have an optional monthly instalment payment scheme via standing order.
We offer a £15 discount off your booking if you bring someone to Smiley or Tweens for the first time and for each additional booking from the same family (with a maximum discount of £30 per family).
If you still feel unable to meet the full cost of a week, please get in contact with us, as occasionally funds become available to pay for part of the cost of a week.
My child has never been to Upcott before and doesn’t know anyone…
Don’t worry! Our weeks are deliberately small (average group size is 20 young people) to enable relationships that are open, deep and long lasting. Our team of helpers will make sure that everyone feels completely included and is making friends.
I’d like to visit you before I send my child on an Upcott Week…
We love having visitors and it would be great to meet you, show you around our property and answer any questions you have. Please contact us so we can arrange a time for you to visit.
Why can’t I book over the phone or by email?
Currently we don’t have the facilities in place to take payments over the phone or online, and we need a deposit and completed booking form to secure and confirm your place. However, we are currently looking into improving our payment options.
I want to cancel my booking
Please let us know as soon as possible. Unfortunately your deposit is non-refundable. Cancellations received within six weeks of your visit require the payment of half fees, and if within two weeks, full fees.
How do I get to Upcott?
Information about how to find our property and public transport is available here. If your child or young people needs a lift to or from the bus or train station please contact us and we will do our best to arrange this.
What time do I need to drop my child off and pick them up?
On the first day you can drop your child off any time from 4pm. Dinner is usually served around 5.30pm. If you arrive in Minehead before 4pm please don’t come straight to Upcott, as our team will still be preparing the house for your visit. Our local area has a lot to offer, including plenty of shops, cafés and the beach to enjoy, as well as walks on Exmoor and the coastal path.
On the last day you will need to pick your child up by 10am. Breakfast usually finishes at about 9am. If you are running late, then please phone us to let us know.
Can my child stay an extra night?
We appreciate that some families will have several children booked onto adjoining summer weeks, which will involve a lot of travel to and from Minehead. Unfortunately we are unable to offer to look after your child beyond their Upcott Week. Our entire team is needed to get the house ready and make final preparations for each week and it is incredibly important that our team has time off, so we are unable to look after your child during this time.
We can put you in contact with other families travelling from your area so that you can share lifts or help you find accommodation locally.
Why do you operate a priority booking system?
We love welcoming new young people to Upcott Weeks and are thrilled if you want to book. Part of Upcott’s vision is to build relationships with the young people we meet that are open, deep and long lasting, and the priority booking system gives young people we already have relationships with a chance to book, hopefully ensuring that they get a place. It is unusual that we have to turn applicants away, but make sure you book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Can I bring a group to stay at Upcott?
Yes! When we don’t have our own groups staying, The Beacon is available for group bookings. You can bring an adult, school or youth group. You will find all the information you need to know here.
Can you come to our church and share with us about Upcott Weeks?
We love visiting churches and would love to share with you about Upcott and what we do. If you have young people in your church who already come on Upcott Weeks, it would be brilliant if they could be involved in sharing about their experiences too.
What is the difference between Upcott and The Beacon?
Until the beginning of 2007 we were based in Seaton, Devon, in a house called ‘Upcott’. In 2007 ‘Upcott’ was sold and we purchased a property called ‘The Beacon’ in Minehead. The work of the charity is still called ‘Upcott’, but the property we now own is called ‘The Beacon’.
My child has returned from Upcott with a tick on their skin. What should I do?
With all of Exmoor’s wildlife, ticks are very common. We will have asked your child to check their skin regularly, but they are easily missed. Don’t worry, they don’t hurt to remove, but it’s important you remove them quickly with a tick extractor or fine pair of tweezers because Exmoor’s ticks are carriers of Lyme Disease. Information on how remove them is available on the Exmoor National Park website.