I woke on Monday morning excited (and a little nervous) about the plethora of activities in the upcoming days. Not only because I was the oldest student on the trip, but also because I knew it was going to be a fear tackling, wild and adventurous 3 days!!
As I approached the school gate Monday morning with all of my bags at hand, I knew there was no going back. After a quick bag check and registration, we were off! As all teenagers do there was singing on the bus, games of I-spy, and the sharing of fears and how we hope to face them head on during the next few days. But most importantly, who was going on the top bunk bed!
After an hour's drive, which quickly passed; we stopped off at a service station, which we were all confused about as we wanted to get to the centre as soon as possible, but found out we would be arriving too early. So, after a quick toilet break we were off again and within 20 minutes, we had reached our destination.
Upon arriving at Boreatton Park, the weather was miserable. However, our high spirits, enthusiasm and snacks eaten on the bus, boosted us all. The site looked incredible! The first thing I witnessed was the Mansion House – jaw dropping! The first PGL staff member we encountered was Cara – our team leader for the next 3 days: She was stood next to the bus in a blue coat and wearing a purple back pack, she was ready to show us 'sporty teens' to our accommodation. Ms Thackray read out the list of who was in what dorm room with whom; Charlotte, Kaitlyn, Ella, Beth, Megan and I all huddled in anticipation hoping that we would all be in the same room together. As it was becoming more apparent that this would occur, we all became elated! Picking up our bags, pillows as well as other bits and bobs and walked to dorm 'C7'; home for the next few days.
After settling into our accommodation and after Cara had found out that we had already eaten lunch on the bus as we couldn't wait until we got to camp, we dived straight into our activities – Tunnel Trail and Giant Swing… I wasn't hoping to get muddy, as I was in new clothes and one of the comfiest pairs of Nike trainers that I own. We walked as a group over to the netball courts and shared our first encounter with our rooms together. We quickly discovered that on the boys' mini bus no one spoke, and just played games on mobile phones: Typical; unlike us girls, singing 'the wheels on the bus' and chanting 'PGL' constantly at the top of our lungs. It was a lively journey, that's for sure. The group was split into two for our activities but came together again at meal times. Therefore, the first activity my roomies and I encountered was Tunnel Trail. As I said above, I wasn't hoping to get muddy, however that was a total disaster as we approached our activity leader Lucy. She was of average height, and again wearing blue. Of course, I had to get the first question out there as I didn't want to ruin my shoes, the first thing I asked Lucy was "Can I do tunnel trail in my socks?" Looking back now, it was a stupid question and I can see why she laughed at me, as the tunnels were just as they sound; underground. We practiced certain moves upon the grass before entering the tunnels. This was interesting as the grass itself was muddy due to the horrible weather. It didn't take long however as soon as I got a little mud on my shoes, there was no going back and it is safe to say, by the end of the day I was the muddiest. Yes, I too was surprised at this! Lucy was an incredible leader, she got right down and dirty with us when one of the girls within the group was worried about going through the tunnel - Lucy removed her jacket and went through the tunnel with the girl right behind her, showing that anyone can get through the tunnels and it isn't as scary as we originally anticipated. Being the oldest student on the trip, this made me so happy to see that not only myself, but also my friends were willing to tackle any challenge that confronted them. I was so proud of Beth facing her fears… even through the mud, tears and tight spaces! Lucy was Scottish so it was hard for some of us to understand her, but we most certainly heard her shout 'PEACHES' at the top of her lungs, as this was the code word for us to come out of the nearest hatch to move onto the next activity. This was an incredible start to an unforgettable 3 days at Boreatton Park.
The next activity after swapping over was the giant swing – this was one of my biggest fears. Being over 30ft in the air was challenging for me as I am not a big fan of heights, but knew I was in safe hands of the instructors and had to conquer one of my top 3 fears. 'Why not start overcoming them on the first day?' I thought to myself; so, I did. Charlotte and I clicked into our harnesses with the help of Lucy and the other activity leader Rory who oversaw the giant swing. Butterflies where circling my stomach rapidly as my partner and I were second on the swing. As I approached, my palms where sweaty and my hands were shaking. We strapped in and we were off. 5ft, 10ft, 15ft, at this point I was nervous. I didn't want to climb any higher, but my partner did, so I made the decision that we should continue as I was only going to get one shot so I went for it. 30ft in the air… the scariest part about the swing was the fact that you hung there in the air until you reached over your shoulder to pull a chord, which would release the swing… I have got sweaty palms just thinking about it! I couldn't do this, as I was holding on for dear life, so Charlotte took it upon herself to pull it. We were off, I have never had a bigger adrenaline rush in all my life! It was such a buzz! A feeling I will never forget, and there it was within 30seconds of dangling 30ft in the air, my first fear was smashed. Heights? Check!
After powering through 3 hours of activities, it was time for the first meal on campus; sausage and mash. Lining up for our evening meal was amazing as we were all still muddy from tunnel trail and we were all hungry, comparing who was the muddiest in line it was a great laugh! Especially since I had never spoken to some of the group before as they were further down the school, however we were all there for the same if not similar reasons and we all shared a passion in which we loved – sport. That evening, we played many games such as, kickball rounders which ended up becoming very competitive, followed by a series of relay events in teams of five. During the relay events Cara would award the best team points and so on, then at the end of the night we played a game called 'Splash' which entailed buying certain items such as a big bag with the points earned throughout the relays. You had to protect a balloon with certain items so that it wouldn't pop if you threw it out the window. I'll let you be the judge on what happened to my team's balloon and our poor contraption…
After a sleepless night and one full of stories and humour behind the closed door of dorm C7, it was safe to say we were the loudest room but probably the best dorm also. Our first and final full day had arrived and it was a jam packed one! With morning activities, such as zip wire and fencing, (it's safe to say to zip wire was my favourite). Facing my fears of heights upon the giant swing my team nominated me to go first on the zip wire, so I did. When my foot left the ledge, I was off!
Afternoon had sprung upon us and lunch time was soon over and we were back in our dorms packing a bag for an exciting challenge of raft building! Unfortunately for us, as we began to plan our raft, it began to snow, making it super cold! However, the group, our activity leader Imogen and I powered through - planned our raft and headed down to the waterfront to build our master craft raft. We were all eager to get out on the water but also wanted to stay afloat as A) that was the aim of the game and B) the water did not look most appealing… "Team work makes the dream work" as Ms Thackray says, and she is 100% right. After 40minutes of knot-tying, log manoeuvring and barrel flipping our raft was complete! My prediction of the water temperature was more than accurate so I was grateful when our raft floated and the other team's raft sank. It was a great opportunity to build something so skilful with people I would never usually speak to let alone build a boat with. Within this activity, I took on the responsibility of team leader and ensured that everyone was on task and everyone was helping each other to achieve the maximum potential of the whole group. During this process, I was most impressed with the lower years and especially a younger student named Jed. At the beginning of the residential, Jed seemed very quiet and unsure about many activities including the giant swing. However, watching him flourish over the 3-day course was truly inspiring! He didn't want to get on the raft as he was a little apprehensive at first, but with the support of myself and his team members, Jed was on the water in no time! It's getting to know people like Jed that make doing the sports leadership initiative worthwhile.
Tuesday night had arrived, as this was our last night, we had a fun-filled night including a disco in the Mansion house and a camp fire out in the rain. It was brilliant to see how 23 students, some of whom had never spoken to each other, within such a short space of time were working together to collect dry wood to fuel our fire in the forest. Cara helped everyone come out of their shells and it was amazing to see everyone getting stuck into all the activities. By the end of the week, everyone was helping each other, whether it was on the Jacob's ladder or rolling up their sleeping bag, everyone helped everyone in some way.
Overall, many activities were carried out within a short period of time. Including tunnel trail, giant swing, zip wire, fencing, Jacobs ladder, raft building and challenge course. The members of staff on the trip were full of enthusiasm and were amazed by how many challenges we all overcame within a 3-day residential. I would like to thank all the staff at Bebington High who organised the trip, congratulations to the rest of the pupils on the trip for overcoming fears and not being afraid to tackle things head on, and an even bigger thank you to all the PGL staff for putting up with our awful singing and sometimes annoying antics throughout. It's safe to safe that the school should definitely carry out more residential visits such as this one!
Melissa Kelly - Deputy Head Girl