On Friday 18th May our staff took 86 students on what would be a gruelling but incredibly rewarding weekend to the Oxfordshire woodlands for this year’s Survival Skills Residential. In what was possibly the best weather we’ve ever had on this trip, we arrived at Base Camp and got stuck straight in to coming up with a tribe name, flag and origin story. The tribes performed their stories to the camp in a fantastic display of song, dance and chanting! Later that evening we huddled round the fire to eat spaghetti Bolognese; spirits high as we sang songs and answered riddles.
The next few days would see the group learning about different types of flora and fauna, using knives to carve our own tent pegs, looking at different methods for starting a fire, constructing different shelters and even some emergency first aid! We were also given the opportunity to put these skills into practice and the chance to see how much we had learnt. Over the weekend, a big hit with the students was Predator: a game similar to hide and seek where the students, as hunters, had to try and use the natural environment to hide and make their way to the prey without being spotted. As the trip progressed our students became more and more acclimatised to the natural environment and although we had a few instances of homesickness, the students survived the weekend and came back stronger! One of our school foci for this year is resilience and this trip certainly offered lots of opportunities to develop it! We had many challenges including working with new people, a freezing cold lake and unfamiliar food but all of our students rose to the challenge.
One of my personal highlights was getting to see some of the quieter students really getting stuck in and shining in a wide variety of activities. We even had the Bushcraft Co. staff offering a job in the future to one of our students! To help develop our team working skills, we continued the inter-tribe competition which we started last year in the form of bug tokens. Over the weekend we gave out over 400 miniature ladybird tokens for things such as showing team spirit, initiative and resilience. Mr Mills was last year’s winner and he was keen to stay the reigning champion. The joint effort from “The Teletubbies”, Miss Hayward and Mr Mills saw them claim victory! It was extremely close at the end and everyone deserves big congratulations.
I say it every year but one of my biggest hopes is that all of our students take the woodland with them and that they keep exploring the natural world around them. This continues to be one of our larger residential trips and I’m glad that we can offer this amazing opportunity to our young people. The students were excellently behaved over the weekend and were commended for their teamwork and listening skills by the Bushcraft Co. team. It was an absolute delight to see all the students (and staff) enjoying themselves so much, even if the lack of showers meant we were a bit smelly! Every single one of the students have made me extremely proud and I feel so very privileged to work with such an amazing group of young people. The whole staff team and I would like to say a huge Well Done for their adventurous spirit, their kind and funny nature and their courage and resilience that they all have in spades.
Mr A Stevenson
“It was my first time camping and it was amazing. I loved sleeping under the stars”
“I thought I would miss my phone but I was too busy and didn’t notice”
“That lake was so cold even though it was sunny but it was so much fun jumping in with my friends”
“I can’t pick just one favourite part, I loved the whole thing.”
“The staff were all great; helping us to get organised and involved in all the activities. Thank you for giving up your time and making the weekend so fun!”
“If you’re wondering about whether to do this trip or not, just do it. You won’t regret it”.
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