Calshot Activities Centre

About us

Calshot Activities Centre is one of the largest Outdoor Education Centres in Britain. We have a reputation for excellence and professionalism and operate to the highest safety standards. Calshot is the largest of Hampshire’s four Outdoor Centres.

We offer residential and non-residential courses in an unrivalled number of exciting water and landbased activities. Situated in a unique position on the shores of the Solent, our magnificent setting gives immediate access to the country's most popular watersports location.

Ashore, historic hangars accommodate a state of the art climbing complex with a massive, recently-opened, free-standing, four-sided extension, the only indoor velodrome in Southern England and a dry Ski Slope.

The range of activities taught at the Centre includes Canoeing, Dinghy Sailing, Windsurfing, Powerboating, Downhill Skiing, Snowboarding, Rock Climbing, Track Cycling, Mountain Biking, Archery, Orienteering, High Ropes, and Development Training.

In addition in our Field Studies Department, a team of seven specialist tutors, provide courses in Geography, Ecology, History and Environmental Studies at Key Stages Two, Three, Four and 'A' level. All our courses are designed to meet and extend National Curriculum and Examination specification requirements via the use of experiential, enquiry based field learning.

  • Specialist Geography and Biology courses at both GCSE and AS/A2 level
  • Cross Curricular courses for upper secondary, combining geography, science and environmental studies with other activities and team building in combination with the Landsport department
  • Mixed Curriculum/Activity courses for Primary Schools from Year Four to Year Six
  • All courses are fully tutored and designed in close collaboration with school staff to ensure maximum benefit and enjoyment for visiting pupils and staff. We are also very happy to create new and specialised pieces of work to fit any curriculum requirement.
  • A suite of large specialist teaching classrooms and computer room. Each room is fully equipped with AV facilities, a range of flexible classroom and laboratory furniture and sinks. In addition, the department has a drying room, waterproof room and areas for staff and students to relax.
  • A 32 ft. 'trawler'.
  • A Specialist field data collection and monitoring equipment.
  • A large amount of basic field equipment.
  • A suite of fast computers (capable of creating and saving work in any file/platform format - PC or Apple), digital cameras, and a range of DTP, multimedia and spreadsheet software.

Our clients come from a diverse background. Hampshire School groups account for the largest numbers. We also actively market to out of County schools, via such events as the Education show at the NEC Birmingham. Currently, we have schools from the Channel Islands, Home Counties and Midlands.

Corporate and Management Development is a growing aspect of our work. Over recent years we have hosted events such as the skipper and crew selection for the BT Global challenge, UK Camel Trophy team selection, and corporate days for the Defence Procurement Agency, IBM and the Child Support Agency.

Calshot has close links with National Governing Bodies for all the activities we teach. We deliver courses from novice to expert, including instructor training and assessment, to both individuals and groups. The Royal Yachting Association for example, run many instructor & trainer courses from Calshot because of our superb location and facilities.

We have around 35 full time teaching staff in addition to 30 support services staff who provide us with food, accommodation, technical and admin support and without whom we could not exist. This strong staff team enables Calshot to operate fifty weeks a year, seven days a week and is the Centre’s greatest resource. From Windsurfing Trainers, Dinghy and Kayak Coaches to Mountain Instructors and Track Cycling coaches, we have them all.

When we recruit new instructors we look for enthusiastic, motivated staff who believe in the value of outdoor learning. They should be aged twenty one or over and have a broad experience of Outdoor Activities. Ideally, they should already be working, or have worked in a Centre and have some relevant teaching experience. It is desirable to hold an instructional award in at least one (and preferably two) of our watersports together with knowledge of our other water-based activities.

Skill in any land based activity is advantageous, particularly Skiing, Rock Climbing or Snowboarding. However, they may have a range of outdoor activities and teaching experience, but no formal instructional qualifications. It is extremely desirable that they have held a full clean driving licence for two years, as is D1 or PCV categories for driving minibuses and trailers.

New staff will undergo a considerable amount of training. Calshot has developed its own training programme to provide the competent multi-talented Instructional Staff we need. This programme provides an ideal opportunity for those people, who already have some experience of Outdoor Education, to improve and extend their range of skills and qualifications.

Spanning some 16 weeks of initial training we cover all our activities to ensure staff are able to teach across the board at an introductory standard. Some of these will be training to a site specific standard and others to National Governing body standards. The format for this is developing personal and coaching skills in an activity, observe an experienced member of staff teach the session, and then be assessed teaching the activity. Issues such as child protection, manual handling and first aid are important aspects of this training, not just technical skills in activities.

Over the year there is on-going training input, geared towards personal needs, improved teaching techniques and relevant National Awards. Clearly these have to reflect the business requirements of the Centre. The actual level of competence reached will depend on personal aptitude and previous experience.

Clearly once in post, development does not stop, higher NGB awards and developing coaching skills are critical to ensuring Calshot is THE premier Centre on the South coast. Our commitment to training includes regular top ups and updates on best practice, a yearly staff training week, and an "allowance" of five days for personal development, conferences etc.

The climbing wall at Calshot presents a challenge to all standards of climber from novice to expert. We are able to offer 1100sq metres of climbing surface, ranging from easy angled faces for the novice to our 14 metre overhanging lead wall for the experts. Our superb new extension, built by Walltopia has doubled wall area, adding 72 new routes, graded from 4 to 7c. Some 200 quick draws have been fixed on the lead climbs and over 600m of top ropes is now set up. Existing features include an overhanging prow, layback crack, jamming crack, mantleshelf and a free standing pillar. There is also a fully matted purpose built bouldering area for those wishing to really pump out! With over 16,000 visits last year this is an immensely popular activity.

For snow sports we offer Skiing, Snowboarding and Snow Blading. All three Calshot Slopes are covered in Snowflex, a revolutionary new surface which has no holes, is easy to ski on and softer to fall on. All slopes have lifts, are floodlit and being inside our massive Sunderland Hangar offer an ideal learning environment whatever the weather. We have installed cooling fans at the tops of a big slopes, and added speed controllers to our drag lifts to make those first steps even easier.

Calshot's annual income is around £2.6M, which covers all running costs, plus renewal and upgrading of its sports and accommodation facilities. Its business covers three main markets, school residential courses (55% by value); recreational courses/tuition (30%); and facility hire (15%).

Calshot has a residential capacity of approximately 180 people, and operates throughout the year. In 2007/08, 167,000 student sessions were delivered, and 23,000 bed-nights were provided (17,000 of these to school groups, the majority residential users). Recreational attendances mainly climbing and skiing totalled 20,000 persons, public launching and car parking another 6,000.


About Calshot