Day 1 – 18.6.19
Raining cats and dogs!
I would like to apologise for the delay in posting the eagerly anticipated blog. I hope it lives up to expectation. If it doesn’t blame Miss Clutterbuck, Mrs Ireland, Mrs Sheehan, Mrs White, Miss Fraser or Mrs Scott.
Firstly, we would like to thank Mr Campbell for booking our trip for a lovely sunny week in June! It’s a shame he’s not here to guide us through the weather he is so used to, or make the cup of tea we are all still waiting for. This year’s trip is a new experience for some of our staff, however there were some ‘experienced’ staff on hand to calm their nerves. As working with Year 6 is new experience for some of them, they were excited to work with such a sensible bunch of children…we are still waiting for them to arrive.
Despite the delay, we arrived at Downe and enjoyed our lunch. After a VERY wet tour of the site, in the rain, we went to our activities in the rain. Some of the activities we enjoyed in the rain were: Tomahawk throwing, zip wire, high ropes, backwoods cooking, go carting, shelter building and climbing. Of course, we won’t mention Miss Fraser who thought backwoods cooking meant children had to cook and do everything backwards! Regardless of the rain, the children remained positive and approached every activity with a smile on their faces – some even said the rain made it more fun!
On returning to the campsite, children were allocated tents and were directed to their ‘home’ for the next three nights. Strict instructions were given to children AND staff to pack any food in plastic containers away from the sneaky, hungry squirrels. All the children seemed pleased and settled in straight away to their new surroundings. Mrs White continued her role of chief tea maker, Mrs/Dr Ireland carried out medical duties, Mrs Scott was dreaming of being on dinner duty, while Miss Clutterbuck took her role of trip leader a bit too seriously and sat down on her throne and ordered tea and biscuits were handed to her every ten minutes.
Shortly after the tents were set up and bags were unpacked or dumped in the corner, dinner was ready to be served. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of pizza and salad, followed by waffle, ice cream and chocolate sauce for afters. Every one enjoyed this and commented on how nice it was. Rest assured, your fussy eaters were also catered for and no-one is going to bed hungry tonight.
Now for Squirrel vs Humans Part II. While the staff were busy serving food, pouring drinks, ensuring children enjoyed dinner and sitting on their throne (Miss Clutterbuck), the squirrels had crept sneakily into a tent and enjoyed their own feast of Mrs Sheehan and Mrs White’s banana and biscuits. I have the feeling some people didn’t listen to the strict instructions given earlier in the day…..oops!
With all the excitement of squirrel gate, we almost missed the fact it had stopped raining! The perfect chance for the children to use the field area to play football, relax in their tents or sit by the unlit campfire (the rain ruined that idea). Mrs Wilkinson kindly volunteered to take some children orienteering if they decided they would prefer to do that. It also gave the adults a perfect chance to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea, or if you’re Miss Clutterbuck just demand more biscuits are handed to you.
Finally, the children were advised to shower and they did. Yes you read that correctly…..they actually did shower. There was a short quiz before lights out and sleep. All of the children had a great day and were looking forward to the next day’s activities.
The dry weather didn’t last long as shortly after lights out, torrential rain began to pour down on the campsite. Unfortunately, the children who didn’t pack their snorkel, flippers and wet suit had to evacuate their flooded tents and were safely transferred to a building with bunk beds, where they spent the rest of their first night. The few children that were moved to alternative accommodation, were still smiling, laughing and remained positive throughout, as were the teachers that accompanied them! A huge thank you has to go to the Downe staff who were extremely helpful and managed to sort out alternative accommodation for us.
Some highlights from the day:
When our Algerian instructor told the children he was from a North African country beginning with a, some responses included: Pakistan, Spain and even WALES!!!!
One group had a similar task and had to guess the nationality of a Venezuelan instructor. The clues were: I speak Spanish and the country is close to Mexico. The children’s guess….Russia! (Glad to see 7 years of Geography lessons has made an impact).
Day 2 - 19.6.19
(Not so) Stuck in the Mud
Day 2. Children were woken up at 7 o’clock, although many had already risen before then. It must have been Mrs Scott’s snoring or the loud echo of Miss Fraser’s laugh that woke up the children. You will be glad to hear all the children managed to get some sleep and Miss Clutterbuck was found catching flies on her throne in the early hours of the morning. A short wash for some and a quick brush of teeth (for most) and it was ready for breakfast. On the menu this morning was: bacon and sausage sandwiches and endless supplies of cereal and toast.
Once the children were fed, it was time to get ready for the first activities of the day. The first activities involved leap of faith, archery, zip wire and shelter building (which we could have done with yesterday), go karts and tomahawk throwing. The excitement was clear to see on all the children’s faces including Mrs Scott, who had an extra spring in her step as she was allowed to resume her normal school duties of serving breakfast and cleaning. The teamwork and resilience shown by all the groups in the early stages was fantastic to see. An enjoyable start for children and the staff, including Miss Clutterbuck who was ‘tidying tents’ and Mrs Ireland who was later found ‘handling drugs’ for the second year in a row.
11 o’clock and it was time for the second round of activities with each group rotating round and experiencing a new challenge. In group 2, some children even managed to climb the leap of faith and jump off of it in 30-40 seconds, which is even quicker than Miss Clutterbuck can say ‘get me a cup of tea.’ Again, every adult has spoken positively about the attitude shown from the children towards the activities and have praised the way in which each child has encouraged others, shown resilience and given it a go (apart from Mrs Wilkinson, rumours are she was too scared).
Next, it was a short stop for lunch of sandwiches, crisps and a chocolate bar followed by fruit. More activities followed, including rifle shooting and fire lighting, which will hopefully be put into practise later in the evening, when Mrs Ireland will spend an hour lighting the campfire, before asking a child to do it, again for the second year in a row.
In the meantime, the Downe staff worked tirelessly to clean, dry and sort alternative tents ready for the evacuated children and teachers to return to the campsite this evening.
I’m sure you have all been awake at night worrying whether the squirrels have returned but rest assured as far as we are aware, today the humans have won. Although, there were some suspicious teeth marks in one of the containers. At this moment, we are unsure whether it was the squirrels or a teacher (not mentioning any names – Miss Clutterbuck) trying to access the biscuits.
5:30 – time for dinner. Tonight we have burgers, wedges and coleslaw (alternatives are provided, so please don’t worry parents of fussy eaters) followed by everyone’s favourite, ice cream. When the food has settled, children will be taking part in an adventure course which I’m sure will soon turn into a competitive competition of which group can complete it the fastest. Let’s hope its Mrs White’s, so we can keep her happy and she can continue to make the tea and coffee.
To follow will be a relaxing evening around the campfire and an early night.
All jokes aside, just to reassure you, the few children that were evacuated to alternative accommodation, were safely and quickly escorted by both St Kath’s and Downe staff and were looked after all night by our teachers. They all have new, clean tents to sleep in back at our camp site and any items of clothing that did get wet have already been washed and dried ready for the rest of our stay.
Day 3 – 20.06.2019
Walking on sunshine
Sorry for the delay with day three, Wifi issues again!
Today’s edition is brought to you by Miss Fraser, as Mr Baker had a sprain tan and pedicure booked for 4pm. He was replaced for the rest our trip by Mrs Bonnett (Bon-ay)
After the timely departure of Mr Baker, the fun could finally begin! He has kindly left his only job of the week in my capable hands. We began the day with a nutritious breakfast: pancakes with maple syrup (and of course our unlimited supply of toast and cereal). Wow, these children can eat! After they rolled their full tummies out of the breakfast tent, the activities were underway. Activities included; leap of faith, rifle shooting and crate stacking.
The sunshine lifted everybody’s spirit and it was a treat that we did not have to cram 12 children under a shelter while they waited for their turn on the activity. Mrs Bonnet’s arrival noticeably cheered up her group as they couldn’t handle another minute of Mr Baker’s terrible dad jokes.
Activities completed, you guessed it, more food! Sandwiches nibbled and crisps munched, off we went again. The children have been positive, supportive and encouraging. It has been lovely to see so many of them give everything a try, even when they have been faced with a huge challenge.
Food time rolled around again, this time, FAJITAS! It was a pleasant surprise to see so many children enjoying such a cultural meal. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t helped their geography skills. One child, when talking about South Africa, claimed he was not sure where it was because “he is no good at his planets”.
We ended the day on a high, with a rotation of camp fire songs, free time games and grass sledging. Sadly, camp fire songs were only adult led for a short while since Mrs Ireland only knew “if you’re happy and you know it” (and she calls herself a Brownie leader) The children soon took over, thankfully, before they went insane.
Grass sledging, another new experience for most, resulted in one of the best comments of the day. When asked what we needed to remember to wear when we sledge down the hill, one child gave the answer “a brain”. Slightly disconcerting.
The children have had a great last full day, immersing themselves in activities and working well as a team. You would never believe how much some of these children have grown to love washing up!