Day 1 and departure
Wednesday morning of the 7th May 2014 arrived all too quickly, with Y4 students dressed ready for their first activity full of jubilant excitement of things to come! While Y4 watched their video treat for finishing their Brazil Topic, staff busied themselves with last minute preparations!
The Vectis blue coach arrived just before 11am and this increased the levels of excitement to the point of bursting! Each child was sent to retrieve their bag or suitcase and filed towards the bus with ease – in some cases with a personal tug of war with their packed ‘kitchen sink’! All aboard, smile and wave to angst ridden parents …’I’ll be fine mum!’! And off we went!
We arrived at Little Canada close to midday and were greeted by Bobbi and Charlie, our PGL team leaders for the trip. We unloaded the bus and went straight to lunch. With comments of ‘wow’, ‘this is cool’, ‘I’m hungry’, ‘when do we do our first activity?’, we all enjoyed our packed lunches in the open picnic ground. From here it was a quick whistle stop tour of the site and then dropped our luggage to our individual cabins.
After getting into our activity groups we all moseyed up to the meeting ground to meet our instructors for the first time. With their sky blue uniforms and energetic personalities everyone was soon at ease! That was until one of the boys piped up with the parody – ‘I’m not singing, why do I have to sing?’! As group after group marched off to their activity area with their respective leader there was a deafening high pitched chorus of “This is a sing it louder song, what is it?!” and off they all went like muddy dwarves heading to an important tryst.
The weather was on our side, bright, warm a little windy and the ground very muddy from the rain earlier in the week. Following the first hour and a half everyone reconvened at the meeting point to swap to their second activity and the marching and singing resumed all over! At the end of the activities staff and children had identified the unlikeliest of ‘Robin Hoods’ or ‘Indiana Jones’ and those who has distinct dislike for the gooey, grainy and dirty mud!
An opportunity to let their hair down and run around the forest and mini creek behind our cabins, pocket money banking and a raid of the tuck shop resembling the charge of the Light Brigade! Phew, then supper at 6.35pm in the hope that none had ruined their appetite with their purchased sweets.
The evening activity was the Great Egg Race, the challenge in groups was to drop a water balloon from the top of Jasper ( the very top of the outdoor climbing wall ), and Y4 meets Krypton Factor as problem solvers in constructing a protective shell around the water balloon to prevent it breaking!
Finally at 9pm, it was a return to cabins for a sweetie feast, lights out and the staff’s hopes that it wasn’t going to be a very late and difficult night! Some homesickness, TLC from cabin buddies and eventually everyone was asleep!
Thursday the 8th May 2014 and Mr Hughes was rudely awakened by the boys in the next door cabin, chatting loudly, showering and dressing loudly ready for the day – so much for hoping for a lie in rather than my usual 5am alarm call, although 6am was better than 5am!
The morning was dull, very windy and had every hint and smell of rain on the horizon! Knock on cabin doors, instructions given to tidy up, wash and dress and to remember site map and a waterproof! ‘Sir, I haven’t got a waterproof!’ was the demon comment of the morning, with 6 children unable to find the all-important waterproof mac jacket! True to form just before breakfast at around 8am the heaven’s opened up and continued to soak the Little Canada campsite until lunchtime.
Wet, cold and miserable we trooped off to the meeting point to meet the hyper excited instructors with more renditions of ‘hey dude’ and of marching songs – ‘Coca-Cola’, ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and others to entertain the spirits! So with squidgy mud underfoot off everyone went to become their own Spiderman, Zorro or Musketeer, Indiana Jones, Robin Hood, Ben 10, Lewis Hamilton of the quad bikes, general superhero and all round basketball wielding cheeky imp on the trampolines! Lunch at 1.35pm followed by a change in activities again for the afternoon, which by now had dried up but was very chilly with a biting wind!
A second evening of pocket money banking followed by another raid on the tuck shop and eventual supper with the highlight of convincing one of our fussy eaters that the turkey escalope was actually the biggest squashed chicken nugget that PGL could find! It was devoured with gusto and to the great acclaim ‘I know now it was a turkey escalope and I really liked it!’
The evening activity was a more relaxed affair with songs, stories and munchies around the campfire and an introduction to the song of the trip ‘A chicken!!!’ Straight to bed with many a tired and smoked infused student ( cabins had a distinct Smokey smell to them! ). No delayed bedtimes or lights out, many had taken themselves to the land of nod after a very tiring, trying and tough day 2!
Day 3 and return
Friday 9th May 2014, saw a more lethargic, quieter and disorganised wake up with some cabin groups struggling to repack their ‘kitchen sinks’! Staff ably assisted with no need for a gym membership afterwards! Breakfast and a further morning of activities with many a tired face attempting to muster the energy and gusto required to survive the final day’s antics. A final lunch in the site canteen with many a child trying something new for the first time!
Loading the bus was for the final leg back to school was weary and entertaining, a final comment and farewell from the instructors Bobbi and Charlie and off we went back to Bettesworth Road! Arriving back at school just before 2pm. Staff and children file back to the Studio to have a final sing along to songs learnt over the previous few days, a mini awards session and final WELL DONE for overcoming personal fears, challenges and anxieties with the courage and gusto necessary to get on with each other.
Parents, family and friends awaited outside the Y4 classrooms with anticipation and just a little dread, with all fears, anxieties and parental heart strings reattached when their child was reunited with a smile of accomplishment and personal pride for their individual achievements – and a large pile of washing!
Y4 children went home happy and very tired as did the staff team who helped on the trip. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr James, Mrs Smith, Mrs Cook, Mrs Holley, Mrs Wraxton and Miss Downer for their time, help and ‘bon ami’ in assisting to make this a highly successful and enjoyable trip for staff and Y4 children. Finally, a big thank you and well done has to go to each and everyone one of your children from Y4 – for your spirit, courage, joviality, mischievousness, and good character for what I know for many of you was your first real experience of being away from home and parents.
Well done and enjoy your weekend!