And so our final day at PGL dawned (not that any of us actually saw the dawn of course!) and although the children didn’t exactly spring out of bed, they did all manage to get themselves to breakfast with only the minimal amount of nagging from the teachers. This morning they tucked into a sumptuous repast of sausages, scrambled eggs, mushrooms and baked beans – an excellent counter to the chilly morning air.
Room inspections are becoming the highlight of the teachers’ day as we await the children’s creative attempts to gain the edge in the cut and thrust world of room tidying. This morning, for instance, we were presented with a personalised comfort pack containing the makings of a cup of tea or coffee if we just added hot water. Who knows how they managed to beg, steal or borrow the teabags and coffee sachets but they certainly know the way to our hearts, even doing their research to find out our favourite drinks! I’d like to say that we will be returning your children as house-proud, tidying machines who leap into action at the mere whiff of a stray sock but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. Please note, you may well feel inclined to hold your breath when you open their suitcases on their return home.
The first of the morning activities was Climbing, which proved very successful, as virtually every one of our little heroes got to the top of the wall, even those children who had previously struggled with heights. Next up was Archery, which was a new experience for many of the children. The wind made it very difficult to aim effectively and we didn’t score many bull’s eyes but at least we managed to launch the arrows in the general direction of the target.
Lunch today was a bit earlier than usual and consisted of everyone’s favourite: pasta and garlic bread. The children then had some time to ‘chill’ (that’s me getting down with the kids) in their rooms while the teachers got started on their aforementioned comfort packs. The extra break was especially serendipitous as it rained chair legs while we sheltered in the warmth of our rooms.
As the rain began to ease, we headed out to complete our last two group activities at PGL Liddington. The Giant Swing proved to be a firm favourite among the children, although, from a personal point of view, being hauled 30 feet into the air (the children themselves do the hauling), and then pulling on a cord that sends you hurtling earthwards at tremendous speed is about as appealing as opening a child’s suitcase after returning from School Journey (that’s your 2nd warning!).
The last activity was Survivor which was all about building a shelter and discussing ways to survive in the wilderness, including a short lesson on starting a fire. Hopefully they’ll never have to use these skills but I guess they’re now prepared for an apocalypse or at least for camping out in the garden!
Our evening meal was a choice of sausages, chicken pie or quorn and vegetable chow mein accompanied by mashed potato. This was followed by apple crumble and cream. Yum!
We rounded off our School Journey extravaganza with a quiz. This included some questions but also had a fair share of events not normally associated with a traditional quiz. You’ll be excited to hear that the ‘Josh is a Unicorn’ team emerged victorious! After the quiz, the children were given instructions for preparing for their departure in the morning. Basically, they were to shower and pack everything in their bags apart from the clothes they would be wearing home, their bed-wear and their toothbrush. Eventually these tasks were more or less completed and all that remains is to finish the packing in the morning before stripping the beds. We will then have breakfast and collect our packed lunch for the trip home. The school will keep you informed of our progress by text as well as furnishing you with an expected arrival time.
There was a time when we thought this trip would never happen and we are all so pleased that Mr Speed persisted with it and made sure that it came to pass. In some ways, it has been very different from other School Journeys and many of those differences, such as the smaller numbers on site, have also been an improvement. Some things don’t change though: the joy and excitement of children being away on a trip with their friends and classmates; that normally reserved child developing the confidence to express themselves to their friends and teachers; the new friendships cultivated with room-mates from other classes and everyone resiliently pushing themselves to achieve something right at the edge of their limits and comfort zone. We all believe passionately that these are some of the building blocks that make the adult they will become.
The teachers, Mr Speed, Ms Porteous, Mrs Wilson and Mrs Hayhoe, gladly give up a week of their time to take the children away because they understand the value of the experience for the youngsters as they prepare for that important milestone of transitioning to Secondary School. They really do a great job being surrogate parents.
As for the children themselves, they’ve had a great time but they’re at the stage now where they’re very much looking forward to re-uniting with their nearest and dearest – they have kept you close to their hearts and can’t wait to see you again. Give them a big hug when you see them!
And finally, be careful opening those suitcases – a hazmat suit is recommended!