“If I’m not going one year, I miss it…”
DART is all about people: boats and people; rivers and canals and people. But mostly people. There are those who come to enjoy a relaxing holiday and those who volunteer to make sure the holidays happen. It’s a rich mixture and every holiday is different, because of the people involved.
One of our volunteers, Kerenza, has been helping run DART holidays for nine years, starting when she was thirteen. A keen sailor, it was the idea of a trip involving boats that first attracted her. She now takes the role of Trip Manager and Skipper.
“I love it,” she says. “It gives people the chance to have a different kind of holiday. Something they wouldn’t have thought of.”
Some of our holidaymakers haven’t been on many holidays before. When they come on a DART holiday, their experience is unique. Every holiday is different, due to the mix of people and the things that can’t be planned – like the weather, the wildlife spotted on the banks and the friendships that are formed.
Kerenza remembers an unexpected extra half day in Bath. “We were travelling from Foxhanger towards Bath that year,” she recalls. “We had to stay longer, due to lock maintenance and it was a bonus. Volunteers get free time too, so it was an opportunity to go and do our own thing.”
For Kerenza, it is no exaggeration to say that participating as a volunteer with DART has been life changing.
“I recently graduated with a degree in psychology. During last year’s DART holiday, I was paired with a guest with an acquired brain injury. I enjoyed it so much that I decided that this is what I want to do.” Kerenza now works for an organisation that helps people with acquired brain injuries.
For volunteers and holidaymakers alike, a DART holiday changes your perspective, even if only for a few days. There’s a changed pace of life, due to the fact that the boat progresses slowly and steadily. This gives time to get to know everyone on board and to enjoy our surroundings, especially during stops.
Kerenza sums up her enjoyment of DART volunteering: “I juggle work so that I can go. There’s a great atmosphere, even if you don’t know anyone at the start. The reason we’re there is that we share a similar mind-set, the same thoughts. I love it so much; it’s unique. I am personally grateful that it was thought of.”