Five Fathers Day Days Out For Soldiers
An Army Leader’s Father’s Day – Part 2
Whilst you’d love to have days out with your children all year round, being a soldier often means you’re not around as much as you’d like. But hopefully on father’s day you’ll have the opportunity to have a quality day out together.
So following on from Part 1 – Five Leadership Lessons For Children – here are my next recommendations. Based on some crowd-sourcing and personal experience, here are five fathers day days out for soldiers. They’ll give you the chance to explain to your children what you do, teach them some history and connect with military values and leadership through a rich historical narrative. Apart from the Star Wars one. That’s simply on the list because it’s great fun to do with your kids.
If you haven’t yet made plans then here are some suggestions:
The Imperial War Museums (London, Manchester, Duxford)
For children aged seven upwards any one of the Imperial War Museums is worth a visit.
Imperial War Museum South, in London, is the most famous of the three museums. The main exhibition space is inspiring, but for a family day out I’d recommend the Family in Wartime exhibition. It traces the life of a family during the Second World War, including the experiences of their ten year old son. Harry Alpress, their father, joined the Army in September 1939. He was evacuated from Dunkirk with the British Expeditionary Force but later returned to France after the D-Day landings in June 1944. He was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery and leadership. Their story is worth visiting.
For something more up to date, the museum hosts a Peace and Security: 1945 – 2015 exhibition that includes modern British Army deployments. Imperial War Museum South is suitable for seven year olds, but the Holocaust Exhibition is not recommended for under-14s.
Imperial War Museum North, in Manchester, explores the conflicts that Britain and the Commonwealth have been involved in since the First World War. In the main spaces there are six mini-exhibitions covering themes common to all conflicts, from the role of women to science and technology. Then there’s the HD Big Picture Show. It uses surround sound, projected moving images and photographs to bring leadership and conflict to life. There’s two hours’ worth of exhibitions.
The Imperial War Museum Duxford is equally impressive. However, although it has got a Land Warfare Hall and hosts The Normandy Experience, the museum has a stronger focus on the RAF. Be warned, if you take your children here they may end up joining the RAF…
The Churchill War Rooms
For a fascinating day out in London, another option is the Churchill War Rooms. The War Rooms are one of London’s most popular paid museums. It’s not hard to see why.
In the centre of London, and hidden beneath the streets of Westminster, is the underground nerve centre where Winston Churchill and his inner circle directed the Second World War. When you enter you immediately begin to descend underground, just a few short flights of stairs. You can then make your way into the War Rooms and begin exploring the underground labyrinth.
You can walk the floors Churchill walked and see the rooms where he made decisions, spoke to the nation and led Britain during the Second World War. There’s even a Churchill museum within the museum, where interactive screens, films and recordings of his speeches life bring the man to life.
It’s suitable for ages nine and upwards and there’s about an hour and a half’s worth of exhibits. As with all the IWM museums, you can get a 10% discount by booking online.
The Royal Chelsea Hospital
Instead of visiting a museum, why not visit a former soldier? The Royal Hospital Chelsea, which has been running since 1692, is one of Britain’s iconic military organisations. If you are a current of former soldier and you haven’t visited already then you are missing a truly special experience.
Almost every regiment in the British Army has a retired member living there and they are keen to spread the word about the hospital and what it offers. The first time I visited I wondered if I’d find anything in common with the pensioners. Every time since I’ve left a little worse for wear but having thoroughly enjoyed myself.
If you are still serving get in touch with the hospital and ask about visiting any of your regiment’s pensioners. Most would love a visit from a soldier and their family. Better still, bring your platoon or troop along. Even better, if your father is a former soldier and fits the entry criteria, why not bring him along to see if its somewhere he’d rather be?
The Chelsea Hospital is an amazing institution that has a ton to offer any visitor. Until I began to visit I never considered that it would be an ideal day out for Fathers’ day.
You might not have served as a storm trooper, but I bet you wish you could have done. The VOID is a fully immersive VR experience in Stratford in London. It starts when you don your VR headset and step into the role of a member of the rebellion.
Travelling to the molten planet of Mustafar, your mission is to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. Disguised as stormtroopers you and your children can grab a blaster, solve puzzles and fight giant lava monsters in an effort to fulfill your mission.
Leadership lessons? Not so much. Immersive sci-fi combat? More than you can shake light-sabre at. Your children will have to be over 4ft tall and over 10 years of age to take part. But it offers everything the website suggests. If your children are Star Wars fans you can’t go wrong. You can watch the video here.
Sandhurst Heritage Day
Finally, if you are a serving soldier, why not take your children to the home of British Army leadership, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst? Each year the academy opens its gates to visitors on Heritage Day. This year it falls on Father’s Day.
If you’re an officer its a chance to show your children the steps you marched up when you commissioned. If you’re a soldier and have never visited its an impressive experience. As well as drill, military equipment, music and demonstrations, there are fairground rides and food stands. The Academy is over 250 years old and the grounds are stunning. As a free day out it is hard to beat.
A well-kept secret that is rarely advertised. You can find out more (although barely more – the day is a well kept secret) on the Wish Stream website. It’s open from 10am, there’s parking on the site and it’s appropriate for all ages. What more do you want?
Happy Fathers Day
Hopefully these are some useful ideas for Fathers Day days out. But what about when you first wake up on Father’s Day? What gifts will your children bring (if anything?)
In Part 3 I’ve suggested five gifts an Army father might like to receive. Or, perhaps, something an Army son or daughter might want to give their father.
Either way, check out Part 3 – Five Father’s Day Gifts For Soldiers. Every one of the gifts can be ordered and delivered within two weeks or less
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