On Friday 13th May 6 staff and 54 of our bravest students ventured into the woodlands of Oxfordshire for a weekend full of Bushcraft activities.

As the coach drove down the seemingly unending forest track, we started to wonder if we were lost. When the coach could get no further we got off and took in our surroundings. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and we were surrounded by over 3000 acres of woodland. It was going to be a great weekend. We started the 30-minute walk to our camp with the assistance of our Tribe Leaders making our way through trees, fields and mud and with everyone’s spirits high. Our camp looked like something out of a fairy tale with large tents, bluebells all around and a roaring fire under the yurt at the heart of it all.

We got stuck into one of our first activities of shelter building, constructing weatherproof shelters using the many natural materials that could be found around camp. Later on we would then be able to choose whether to sleep in our tent or out in our shelters. Lots of students chose to test out their handiwork and spent 2 or even 3 nights sleeping under the stars. We were treated to a fantastic dinner of beef fajitas and home-made chocolate brownies that were cooked in Dutch ovens around the camp fire. 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. A few games of this later and we were all ready for bed, but not before enjoying a bit of time around the roaring fire. It was perfect!

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, learning how to purify water so that it is safe to drink 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.

One of my personal highlights was the talent show with all of the tribes performing a story or sketch about their time in the woodlands. All of the students shone in their various roles, whether it was singing, re-enacting an epic tale, impressions or a comedy magic act. An incredible way to spend our last evening in camp.

Liam, our Camp Leader, expressed his hope that they take the woodland with them and that they keep exploring the natural world around them and it’s a hope that I share. This was the first time we had run this trip but it certainly won’t be the last. 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 of 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.

 

Quotes from some of the students:

Keelan says “In 20 year’s times, I’d like to remember the feeling of a hard day’s work done, lying under the stars in our shelter.”

When asked what her favourite part of the trip was, Maddison said that “it’s so hard to choose but it’s got to be the 1st night of sleeping outside and it was the best night of my life!!”

Rachel’s favourite memories were “me and my friends screaming as we jumped into the lake and sleeping in our own shelters in front of a blazing fire that I contributed towards.”

When asked for his thoughts on the trip, Reuben simply replied “salmon eyeballs taste nice!”

 

27 May 2016

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