On Friday 19th May 9 of our staff took an amazing 96 students on what would be a gruelling but incredibly rewarding weekend to the Oxfordshire woodlands for this year’s Survival Skills Residential.
Rain was in the air as we arrived at Base Camp and that night we saw lots of it! Just as we were about sit down to eat our Spaghetti Bolognese, the heavens opened and the following hours were filled with heavy downpour, thunder and lightning. Huddled round the fire and eating our now watery tea, spirits remained high as we sang songs and answered riddles.
As well as warmer and dryer weather, the next few days would see us 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 homesickness, all of 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 the weather, working with new people and unfamiliar food but all 96 students rose to the challenge.
One of my personal highlights was the sing-off with the two camps competing in a series of repeat-after-me songs trying to outdo the other. The volume, drama and attitude of every student was electric!
To help develop our team-working skills, we introduced an inter-tribe competition this year in the form of bug tokens. Mr Mills skilfully designed and created 231 miniature ladybird tokens that we then gave out to students over the weekend for showing team spirit, initiative and resilience, amongst other things. The competition heated up quickly, especially between the staff! It was a close call, but our winning team this year was Mr Mills and the Alpha Bears. Can he keep his winning streak going next year?
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 was the second year for this trip and I’m really proud to say that we nearly doubled in numbers from last year. The students were excellently behaved over the weekend and were commended for their teamwork and listening skills by the Bush-craft 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 - Trip Leader.
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