Blog: L5 Outdoor Education Week

At St Edmund’s School, we believe that outdoor activities are of great value to each and every pupil. For this reason all pupils in the Lower Fifth (Year 9) will be off-timetable to participate in Outdoor Education Week for five days of activities that will develop:

  • key skills relating to creative approaches to problem solving challenges, leadership and teamwork
  • resilience and strength through the completion of challenging activities;
  • an appreciation of physical activity and the natural world;
  • increased awareness of the socio-cultural diversity

Follow this blog for daily updates from Mr Anderson and Captain Jones.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY

An expedition…

34 pupils set put on Thursday for their DofE expedition. 2 days of walking and an overnight stay lay ahead as pupils prepared their bags, finalised their routes and headed out to North Court Farm. The morning had been grey with showers but the afternoon brightened up and the groups got into the swing of navigating using map and compass. With the odd mistake here and there (All part of DofE expedition experience) the pupils successfully made it into camp.

We had the luxury of camping barns for this trip and pupils cooked together outdoors before planning their routes for the next day.

Day 2 was just as challenging with some steep hills and tricky navigation through the Kent countryside but they all dealt with it wonderfully and we are pleased to have another 34 successful candidates completing their DofE Bronze Expedition sections. A wonderful end to a busy, challenging week for the Lower Fifth who have conducted themselves impeccably.

A huge thank you to all staff involved: Mr Kincade, CSgt French, Mrs Lea, Mr O’Connor, Mr Dawson and Mr Stubbings.

 

WEDNESDAY

A soldier’s life…

And so, after two physically demanding days, our intrepid Lower Fifth were entrusted to the care of the 3rd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

After an initial brief, and an exciting video highlighting the varied role and life of an infanteer, pupils were split into five groups for a round robin of stands depicting different elements of a soldier’s life.

As expected, the weapon and combat equipment stand proved one of the highlights of the day. Pupils tried on body armour, helmets and were given the opportunity to get fully hands on with personal weapon systems. A few of our girls stunned the soldiers, as they proved to be particularly adept at stripping and reassembling a glock handgun, ominous indeed!

The cooking and living in the field stand shocked many, as they saw quite how spartan the conditions are for soldiers on active operations. Sleeping conditions could be described as bijou, for those with an active imagination, or utterly horrific as one pupil exclaimed. The rations were mostly edible, with another of the year group stating he preferred them cold!

Sentry duty requires some keen observation skills, and is an important role within any fighting element. After a brief instructional period on how to locate objects, and scan a landscape, pupils adopted a prone position behind rifle sight systems and army binoculars. Eleven items were out there, our best group found eight, including an errant tiger, which a member of staff (no, I won’t say who….Mr Bodle) mistook for a balloon!

Physical conditioning is obviously of paramount importance to the infantry and so, to Colour Sergeant French’s delight, pupils got to experience the gentle encouragement and relaxed demeanour of the Physical Training Instructor. Outside, pupils endured the rain and completed some gruelling challenges, with one pupil daring to tell the instructor to ‘shh!’ after he politely reminded her of the need for three points of contact on one obstacle. Fun was had, and the PE staff present now have novel ideas for preseason training, watch out!

Finally, the stand that pupils, and staff, found perhaps the most staggering was the role of the combat medic. All were astonished at the feats of bravery demonstrated by these individuals and the harrowing, but essential role they play. The full contents of their First Aid kit were shown to all with pupils getting to grips, pardon the pun, with tourniquets and wound dressings. As other bizarre items appeared pupils played ‘guess the purpose’, further illustrating quite how tough a role these people play under the most challenging conditions.

Overall, another excellent day with our pupils continuing to be an absolute pleasure to take out. Yet again, they all gave everything, laughed and learnt and proved to be admirable ambassadors for St Edmund’s School. Roll on the expedition!

 

TUESDAY

Fun, problem solving and a little risk thrown in…

Day two of Outdoor Education Week saw our pupils head to Canoe Wild in Canterbury for a day on the River Stour.  Nervous excitement and a sense of anticipation filled the air as the pupils headed down to Grove Ferry to meet the Canoe Wild team.  Pupils had the opportunity to try out paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and raft building throughout the day on a rotation which culminated in a raft race at the end.  The paddle boarding was clearly the favoured event for those adventurous enough to not mind falling in and Mr Stubbings was definitely one of those.  Pupils paddled down stream and took part in some races and challenges before moving on to canoeing in pairs which was a more leisurely activity and a nice way to experience the calm River Stour before attempting to build rafts, working as a team and using skills built throughout the year.

It was great to see all pupils giving it a go, working together and supporting each other in a completely different setting to the bouldering activity yesterday but with equal success.  The pupils attitude and behaviour through the day was impeccable and we look forward to a day in the life of a soldier tomorrow.

MONDAY

Aiming high…

Outdoor Education Week started with a flurry of activity today as the Lower Fifth visited the Chimera Climbing Centre in Tonbridge. Upon arriving we were given a thorough briefing and under the instruction of the centre instructors pupils were given 3 rounds of progressively harder challenges, climbing bouldering routes of varying difficulty. There was something for everyone and it was great to see everyone pushing themselves, including all staff, and trying climbs that were well out of their comfort zone. As pupils climbed the challenges they scored points for successful completion which were totalled up for the best 4 boys and the best 4 girls to go into a final speed climb for the best climber of the day. It was a close competition but huge congratulations go to Cyrus Cooper for Best Boy and Edith Burton for Best Girl.

We look forward to watersports tomorrow!