Went up yesterday to go and see how the hardy – or not so hardy – souls in Year 6 were coming to terms with a week in close proximity to one another and being led, almost non-stop, in adventurous activities – so far they have rowed, canoed, walked, fenced, shot (as in archery – nothing serious!) climbed, swung on ropes, walked blindfold through a forest, been on a night hike, eaten and slept. There has not been much time for anything else. I went up with one of the group of teaching students who are starting with us this term, and the morning was spent in a short walk around the lower Ceiriog Valley, over the river into Wales, through the Chirk Tunnel, around Chirk Castle grounds and across the aqueduct over the Ceiriog that brought us back into England. It was a great morning and a good opportunity for all the children to be together, where previously they had worked in teams.
In the afternoon, they faced a series of woodland challenges, all geared around balance, agility and teamwork, and it was here, more than anywhere, where issues of maturity and perseverance began to surface. Mostly, these challenges were met wonderfully well (witness two girls teaching everyone else in silence how to arrange themselves in birthday order whilst balancing on a log!), but occasionally there was evidence of children forgetting to consider how their actions held back the progress of their classmates. With a few notes, you could almost write the front page of their annual report from what they showed under these sorts of pressures. Fascinating, in all sorts of ways.
The overwhelming sense of the way that Adventure Plus and the Quinta Centre looked after the children (not to mention the amazing cooks, Grace and Charles) was one of servanthood, care, and a strong Christian commitment to living life wholly and fully. It was almost tangible, and was one of the strongest unspoken Christian witnesses I have come across for a long time. The “extra mile” thing was in full force and immediately made all of us feel at home.
As for the children, they were, to use a West Country expression, fair knackered. But they were absolutely committed to their adventure, fully engaged with the staff and working hard for one another, even when one or two had an individual take on issues of discipline or being where they were meant to be…. the pictures on the left are a flavour of the day (more pictures can be found here):
Question of the day: “Why are we doing all of these things outdoors? Can’t we do them inside?” No comment.
Ridiculous concept of the day: “How can we keep safe from drop-bears?” For the uninitiated, a drop bear is a kind of koala (allegedly), that can be kept at bay by rubbing Vegimite behind your ears (again, allegedly). This sounds like an in-joke, and it was yesterday! If you wish to pursue this, Wikipedia have an article on drop bears here. But then, they have articles on a lot of stuff. But here, there is a video and an opportunity to enter into the debate as to whether they are real or not. I’m going to stop now, for dignity’s sake.