Three weeks ago I wrote an article about school trips titled, ‘Either push your limits or suffocate in your comfort zone’; I am sure you all read it and remember my three salient points: send your children away with us and tell them they’ll be fine, we will always see the emergence of leaders on residentials and all children will overcome their fears, at whatever level.
The teachers and children have had the most amazing time whilst being in Devon this week; we have kayaked, built shelters and lit fires in the wilderness, we have coasteered along the North Devon rocks, surfed in the waves at Croyde Bay, we have shot rifles, fired arrows, ridden mountain boards, played at the Big Sheep indoor park, SUP’d on the lake, climbed, traversed the high ropes and conquered the Ultimate Wipeout course; we have organised our belongings, chosen our own food, sorted out our wet clothes, packed our bags, AND spent four nights away with our friends in triple bunk beds without our parents, and it’s all been amazing!
Our wonderful adventure has not been without bumps in the road, but not one child has failed to enjoy themselves and they have all pushed their limits. As I said a few weeks ago, even the most outwardly confident will freeze at the top of the high ropes or when faced with a 10-foot jump off jagged rocks into the sea, but, with thanks to the camaraderie of their peers, they overcome their fears. For some, even getting the wetsuit on and swimming through the swell is a massive achievement and these personal milestones need to be (and very much were) celebrated.
There were a few moments of real magic this week: from the young girl who went from sobbing in the lap of the waves on the beach to fully standing on a surf board in the space of about three minutes thanks to the amazing support of the instructor, to the young boy who stopped racing his friend up the Jacob’s Ladder to instead climb back down to give him a bunk up to the next rung; we’ve had hugs for homesick friends, children running errands for staff, numerous words of encouragement to go ‘one step higher’ or ‘just jump once’ and other random acts of kindness that should be celebrated.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the staff who gave their own personal time to join the children on their heady adventures and also to the children who have been amazing. We have had two key instructors tell us this week that our children were ‘the best yet’ – some accolade when all these people do is work with school groups!
Every child has slept, they’ve all eaten, they’ve all smiled and laughed, all conquered a fear (or six!) and had a fantastic time with their friends and the accompanying staff. They might be tired, their clothes are filthy, they’re probably missing a sock or two, but it’s the bigger picture that counts; they will talk about these moments for years to come.
Roll on Holland in March 2023!
Tim O’Connell, Deputy Head