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Day 1 – Are we there yet? Yes we are!

 

After a rather swift and pleasant journey along the motorway we arrived in the glorious Garden of England (known to you and me as Kent) just before 13:45 this afternoon. Did you know that Julius Caesar is reported to have said that, “Of all the British tribes, by far the most civilised are those who dwell in Kent”? No? Neither did I. With that in mind, our children have not let us down. Why, if Julius Caesar could see our particular tribe from Chingford he may well have changed his mind and spoke glowingly about tribes from North East Londinium!

 

Upon arriving at Grosvenor Hall we sat on the playing field and had a spot of lunch in the warm, afternoon sunshine. The children were ravenous and devoured their lunches in no time at all. As we were finishing, Sara (our Kingswood Team Leader) introduced herself and took us on a whistle stop tour of the centre. The children were taken aback at the size of the dining hall and couldn’t wait to get into their rooms and unpack. Watching the children make their beds was an…interesting experience. Onlookers could be forgiven for thinking that many of them were auditioning for the part of Casper the Friendly Ghost as they struggled and were finally enveloped by quilt covers intent on not going where they should.

 

We then went and found our activity stations for our first session. Two of our groups took part in Crate Stacking and the other kicked off with Abseiling. All groups had a cracking time and can’t wait to get started tomorrow. We went for a hearty supper (fishcakes, pasta or quiche) before firing Bottle Rockets into the abyss and engaging in lots of useful science talk. Miss Morley would be very proud of all our little Einsteins .

 

Now it’s about 10:45 and the last of the children are gently drifting into the land of nod. Who knows what adventures tomorrow will hold?  Check back tomorrow and find out for yourself!

 

Day 2 -  Lean on me, when you're...half way up a pole

The children were delighted to discover first thing this morning that the breakfast menu consisted of delightfully fluffy American Pancakes served with rashers of crispy bacon and thoroughly scrambled eggs. Is there better was to start a Tuesday? Well there probably is, but try not to spoil the beautiful image I'm painting for you. 

After a somewhat worrying, but humorous conversation about the possible time difference between Ashford and Chingford, the children completed a number of activities including Problem Solving, Outdoor Games, Equilibrium and Leap of Faith to name but a few. The children had a truly amazing time and if you follow the school Twitter account (@AinslieWood) you have no doubt already seen a number of brilliant photographs from today. Do not despair, if you're a bit of a technophobe and don't know your tweets from your hashtags we will try to put up as many pictures on the blog as we can. 

All of the staff have been impressed with how our children have approached todays challenges, and lets not underestimate just how daunting they are. Climbing a 40ft pole with only an expertly tied rope to keep you safe would be a terrifying experience for most adults, let alone 10 and 11 year olds. We have also been in awe of just how supportive the children have been of each other. When the going got tough for some of the children today, it wasn't long before they were being encouraged up the pole even further by a wave of cheers. I know it sounds a bit like a Gladiatorial Arena, but actually it was a really beautiful thing to witness. 

We finished this day with a jolly good singsong around a roaring campfire. Those readers who have children who attended PGL last year have no doubt been serenaded with the Banana Song at some point since they returned. Well, imagine our surprise when the instructors decided to teach it to us tonight. Twitter users will have already seen me boogying along to what can only be described as the greatest song never recorded (if the video doesn't go viral I'll be greatly disappointed), and now the annoyingly catchy tune is gently echoing down the boys corridor as they get ready for bed. Thanks Kingswood...thanks a bunch (of bananas)...sorry, couldn't resist the pun. 

Day 3 Blog - Don't Blame it on the sunshine, don't blame it on the moonlight, don't blame it on the good times, blame it on the boogie!

I wish I could say that we saw all of those things today, but sadly I cannot. It literally rained all day. I'm quite tempted to end the blog right here because it was simply that big a part of our day. Alas, I will continue and provide you with a faithful yet amusing update about what we got up to today. My evening just wouldn't be complete without it...

There is a saying amongst the more hardy of the teacher breed that goes, "There is no such thing as bad weather, just a poor choice in clothing." Well it's a good thing staff don't come any hardier than the ones employed by Ainslie Wood Primary School.  It is of course no secret that the rain fell and never really stopped until late in the day, but we didn't let it spoil our day. Equipped with waterproofs (and Glenn's umbrella) we ventured out and had made the most of the day. Todays activities included Assault Course, Laser Tag, 3G Swing and the now infamous Night Line to name but a few.

Some of you may have seen your children caked in mud if you have been keeping an eye on our Twitter feed (@AinslieWood). We apologise profusely to whoever does the laundry in your household. It is entirely the fault of an activity called Night Line. The children are blindfolded and rely on the person at the front to relay information to them and guide them blindly through the course. It is much harder than it sounds, mainly due to the fact that it involves climbing through hoops submerged in a muddy puddle, climbing under a net stretched over a muddy puddle and navigating tyres submerged in...you guessed it, a muddy puddle. As you may have already worked out, completing this challenge makes the children very wet and muddy, and I mean MUDDY!

We ended this evening with a real highlight of our time here at Kingswood, the disco! Now I know what you're thinking. A disco involving two schools in a hall with flashing lights and the cheesiest pop music ever known must be hellish for the staff. Well you're right...only joking of course. It is actually a really fun evening event that makes memories which last a lifetime. It's a bit like Disneyland in that regard, only even more fun! 

A most curious event occurred during the disco that I needed explaining to me. The children inform me it is called a dance-off and it involved Leandro throwing some shapes (do we still use this phrase?) in the middle of a circle of baying children. The cheers seemed to indicate that Leandro was doing fantastically and this was later confirmed when he emerged from the circle surrounded by adoring fans whilst his opponent crept off into the darkness. I hear from 'da yoot' that Leandro's moves were just 'too sick'. Don't worry readers, I checked with Lorraine (our First Aider) and she assures me I don't need to worry, it's just something the children say to mean 'good'. With that in mind I think it is about time I wished you all a 'sick night'. (That does mean goodnight, right?) 

Day 4 Blog - It's the final countdown

The sun was out and shining for our final full day at Kingswood this year. That's a stark contrast from yesterday when it rained all day. Did I mention that it rained in the blog yesterday? I think I may have.

Todays activities included 3G Swing (which our eagle eyed twitter followers would have seen myself and Mr Rahman on) Team Tech, Indoor Climbing and most excitingly, swimming. The children had an amazing time and are filled with a mixture of sadness that our time here is coming to an end and happiness that they will soon be returning home to their families. It has most definitely been an experience for each and every one of the children, and one that they will not be forgetting anytime soon.

Mrs Scott and Mr Rahman made the journey to Kingswood today and joined us at lunchtime. They will be staying overnight and coming back with us tomorrow. Their arrival has meant that Glenn and Miss Yerosimou have escaped...sorry, I mean been able to return to home and get a good nights rest. I'm not jealous at all, it's nearly half past eleven and I'm sat writing this blog. I mean come on, who really wants to get in their own bed, have a night of undisturbed sleep and watch a bit of TV?

I jest of course. I'm actually becoming quite the advocate of outdoor education the more often I experience it. The children undergo a truly rapid and miraculous transformation, one that we simply cannot offer at school. As a teacher I am of course obsessed with ensuring that our children leave Ainslie Wood ready for Secondary School, but actually 'being ready' means more than being able to read write and do math. They need to be able to work as part of a team, communicate their ideas clearly, face new challenges head on and persevere until a task is completed. The list goes on.  This development of the 'whole' child is probably the reason most of us became teachers in the first place, and this week I think we've achieved just that.

One thing that I am very proud to report is that every child here at Kingswood with us has achieved a great deal. Whether that be climbing higher than they have ever climbed before, jumped further than they have jumped before or even been a better friend than they have been before. The children may have left home on Monday as your little children, but they will return home tomorrow as young adults who are ready to take on the challenges that lay in wait for them as they finish Year 6 and move onto Secondary school.

As I sit here writing this final line of the blog (it's about 11:50), the sound of some rather extreme snoring echoing down the corridor, I'm reminded that this time tomorrow I will be lying in my warm and cosy bed slowly drifting into the land of nod. I don't know about the children, but I will treasure the memories made on this residential for a long time to come. It has been an absolute pleasure and I look forward to seeing all your smiling faces tomorrow. I've loved it but seriously, 4 nights is more than enough...

PS. Sorry this never got put up on the website last night. I did finish writing it a tad before midnight and then realised I didn't know my log in for the website! Doh! I have been relying on Miss Yerosimou rather heavily in terms of technology - I'm lost without her!

 

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