Everyone was a bit sluggish getting going this morning. Two days of non-stop activity in the great outdoors has taken its toll and we could all have done with a few hours, or even minutes, extra in bed but we had a pressing breakfast engagement at 7.50am, so we had to drag ourselves from under our duvets to tuck into bacon, scrambled egg, vegetarian sausage, mushroom and baked beans – the breakfast of champions.
The children know the routine by now and they were all ready for the subsequent room inspections. Thankfully, apart from the odd malodorous pair of trainers, all of the rooms are in pretty good shape and even the few who had been disorderly previously, have managed to sort out their socks and put their sweet wrappers in the bin! To the teachers’ delight, there were many more bribes in play this morning and the stakes were raised when one of the children burst out of a suitcase as we entered the room!
Enough of the frivolities and on with the meat and drink of school journey – the activities. First on the menu was the all-action Challenge Course. which is a good old-fashioned obstacle course consisting of the usual elements of climbing, swinging, jumping and various other contortions appealing to 11-year-olds. This was followed by a daunting descent of the abseiling tower. That moment when the children have to step backwards off the 40 foot structure is a truly extraordinary act of bravery and trust and all of our children were encouraged to go as far as they dared, whether that was a high-speed descent of the wall or even just climbing to the top in the first place.
After lunch (sandwich rolls or wraps), it was straight off to Orienteering which involved quite a lot of running and is hard work on a full stomach, especially for the adults. Let’s face it, the teachers are more inclined to want a short nap in the afternoon rather than running around looking for control points. Luckily, the children are made of sterner stuff and they dashed around with the endless energy of youth.
This was followed by the final afternoon activity – the Vertical Challenge. This is really a climbing, obstacle course, where the lower levels are difficult to scale and the less challenging, higher levels are easier to climb but they are very far off the ground! Once again, the children pushed themselves to the very limits of what they were comfortable with and left feeling proud of what they had managed to achieve.
There was one more event before dinner, an event that had been long anticipated since the moment we had arrived – it was our turn to visit the PGL shop! Their money had been burning a hole in their pockets since day one and now they were given the chance to spend it. It took a while for everyone to peruse the wares on offer but eventually, our retail therapy was complete and we could stash our booty in our rooms and go to dinner. A choice of fish fingers, chicken tikka or vegetable pie accompanied by rice or chips certainly hit the spot.
The children are probably sick of the sight of their teachers at this stage so they got a pleasant surprise when Mrs Patel arrived down for a visit. She was able to watch them in action and was regaled by the accounts of their adventures.
We weren’t finished yet of course – there were still a couple of hours of daylight left after all! We rounded off our very busy day gathered around a camp-fire. There were songs, stories, dancing, interactive performances, a joke or two and toasted marshmallows to get through and we returned to our rooms at 9pm buzzing with the excitement of the day and smelling of camp-fire smoke (sorry parents!).
In no time at all, everyone was showered and ready for bed. We said goodbye to Mrs Patel and the teachers were able to rest their aching feet and savour a relaxing cup of tea. On that note, you can be sure that Mr Speed, Ms Porteous, Mrs Hayhoe and Mrs Wilson are doing a brilliant job caring for the children with endless patience and good humour. Bravo!