Sunday 15th October 2017
As I write Y6 students are busy packing their bags ready to head off on the Y6 residential tomorrow.
It looks like the best weather of the week will be wasted on our journey so don't forget your warm layers, waterproof coats and Wellington boots. Whatever the weather I know you won't let it stop you having a fantastic experience. We will be looking for you to demonstrate Trust, Responsibility, Understanding and Empathy throughout as you learn more about yourselves and how to work together effectively in a team - be it to build a raft or keep your dormitory tidy! I can't wait!
Monday 16th October 2017
After a smooth coach journey we arrived at the sun-drenched PGL Liddington to be met with a warm welcome from our groupies James and April. They showed us around and introduced us to the first of many "repeat after me" songs.
The first challenge of the week was the vital, if rather boring, task of making their beds. It looked like the children had taken my advice to get practising over the weekend as it went surprisingly smoothly. With suitcases unpacked and toiletry bags lined up on the shelves in the bathrooms the rooms were soon ready for their first inspection. Unfortunately one or two children had failed to understand that 'unpacking' involved taking their clothes out of their suitcases but overall the rooms were incredibly neat and tidy. Long may it continue! The champions were Michaela, Ashleigh, Ciara, Rebecca, Kiwi and Matilda who not only had made everything looked amazing but were even ready to welcome us in.
After some free time having a kick around and rolling down hills (oh the joy of the great outdoors) it was time for dinner. Then it was back to our rooms to add an extra layer for our first official activity: a campfire. The wind meant the flames got off to a rather slow start but nothing could dampen our enthusiasm as we launched into rousing renditions of campfire classics such as 'A Pizza Hut, A Pizza Hut', and 'My Name is Joe'. We will treat you to a concert when we return. Promise!
It's just coming up to 10.45 and (almost) everyone is fast asleep ready for an action-packed day tomorrow. Here's hoping for some more autumnal sunshine!
Tuesday 17th October
What a busy day! Fortunately it all began with a really hearty breakfast. You wouldn't believe how many pieces of toast the group got through. And that's on top of spaghetti, mushrooms, bacon and bowl after bowl of cereal. Once our bellies were full we headed off in our teams for our morning activities. Survivor was a great introduction to our next topic as we learnt the three 3s (ask the children when they get back), practised making fire and built a shelter for four which was capable of keeping the elements out. Fortunately, as I write this, the children are tucked up in their buck beds as I don't think the shelters - as good as they were - would have made for a particularly comfortable night. Jacob's Ladder and Abseiling meant a few children had to tackle their hesitations about heights head on. It was great to see the teams pulling together to encourage and support one another to have a go.
Once everyone was warm and dry again we found ourselves tucking into yet another enormous meal before the second room inspection of the week. We are pleased to announce that the overall standard remains high (long may it continue) but only one room could be the champion and today it was Domantas, Flo, Charlie, Akash, Bradley and Scott.
Before we fell into bed we found ourselves out and about again playing Ambush. The teachers were not surprised to discover that the children found it rather difficult to stay quiet in the dark but, as they were equally bad, it ended with a draw so everyone went to bed content and - as I write this at 10.15 - all I can hear is a few snores.
Wednesday 18th October
We rose to discover the landscape completely misted over and it stayed that way all day - but we didn't let the damp air dampen our spirits. Activities this morning included Canoeing, Trapeze, Vertical Challenge and Archery. The canoeing lake was very atmospheric but the children barely noticed as they quickly picked up how to paddle backwards, forwards and turning so they could start playing some games. 'Favourite food' and 'Zombie' went down really well and it was great to see our children cooperating really well with a team from another school. Archery helped us identify the Robin Hood and Maid Marion's of the group with lots of children managing to hit the red or even the gold.
Rooms are starting to show a little wear and tear due to the inclement weather conditions but the children are still rallying round admirably to get them up to scratch - in time for our inspections at least. I am delighted to announce that today's winners were Maddie, Aisha, Giselle and Billie.
This evening it was time for Robot Wars. The children undertook a number of challenges in order to earn points. The more points they got the more resources they earned in order to turn one of their team members into a robot. The atmosphere was soon very competitive as teams worked together to create a shoe tower, draw our groupies James and April and answer some questions about PGL. In the end team 'Chicken Wings' (don't ask) earned the right to the most resources. However, the real battle began in the ring. The Robots were directed by their team members to play what I can only describe as a beanbag version of dodgeball. After a fiercely contested battle the fantastic Robot Louis and his team took first prize. Well first place anyway.
Thursday 19th October
Unfortunately the weather was against us again today but the classic PGL songs kept us going as we enjoyed our last full day of activities. This morning groups were busy Raft Building, tackling the Vertical Challenge, racing along the Zip Wire and navigating the Sensory Trail.
The Sensory Trail was a hilarious site to witness for the staff but, most importantly, a genuine opportunity for children to demonstrate the trust they have developed in one another. The children were blindfolded and had to work together to navigate a range of obstacles from swinging "snakes" to "sleeping bears" to "cliff edges". The Zip Wire was a change of pace as children took it in turns to hurtle along the wire - some holding on for dear life whilst others chose to strike a more dramatic pose.
Just in case they weren't tired enough we wrapped off the day with a disco. The children brushed themselves down and scrubbed themselves off amazingly well (given how muddy they had been earlier in the day) and they all looked fantastic as they strutted their stuff on the dance floor. Well and truly exhausted the children are now having their final sleep away from home - though we still have plenty to get through before we return them to their families - dirtier, sleepier but a little bit more mature and confident than they were when we came away on Monday.