Monday 12th: 19 children and 2 adults set off on a stormy Monday morning, heading for Heatree Residential Centre. We arrived safely, had lunch, met up with Prince Rock pupils and then grouped up. 3 groups spent 1 1/2 hours orienteering, finding clues placed around the site, whilst the other 3 groups took part in team building and problem solving activities. Despite the rain, sleet and hail, all the children battled through and rose to the challenge. They then went to their rooms and unpacked before enjoying lasagne with garlic bread, followed by apple crumble and custard. After evening rounds and a briefing about the National Outdoor Learning Award (NOLA), which they are working towards this week, the children enjoyed hot chocolate and chocolate Krispie cakes before getting ready for bed and settling down.
A wet afternoon at Heatree Residential Centre
... and then the hail came!
On a bright, sunny, if somewhat chilly, morning, the wake up call blasted at 7.30 (for those that hadn't been awake since 5.30) and breakfast was at 8.00. The activities started at 9.15 which were either: archery and fencing, high ropes or abseiling and climbing. The rain held off and we finished our activities at 11.45. We ate our freshly prepared packed lunches outside and played in the fields before getting ready for the afternoon's activities which were either: rock scrambling, high ropes or archery and fencing. It was back to the accommodation at 4.15 and we had time to get changed before heading for our assembly and reflection time.
An evening meal of chicken pie, mash, carrots and beans, followed by sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce, filled us all up and we then went and prepared our rooms for evening rounds.
Red, yellow and gold groups then went out on a night walk whilst the other 3 groups stayed in the centre, playing games such as table football, table tennis and Jenga. There was just time for hot chocolate and Rocky Road when the night walkers returned before getting ready for bed. Lights out 11pm.
No eight restrictions here!
Tuesday 14th pm: The afternoon activities were: Abseiling and rock climbing, low adventure and raft building. The climbers and fallers were amazing and all achieved their personal goals. Low adventure participants came out looking like bog creatures as they were covered from head to toe in mud – some even added mud to their faces for extra dramatic effect! The raft builders again created great vessels and the red team triumphed over the golds.
What else do you do on a Wednesday afternoon on Dartmoor?
Wednesday: A cold, dry and surprisingly quiet start to the day. The 7.30am air horn and 70s disco music was not to everyone’s taste surprisingly. After breakfast, it was straight to activities which today were: raft building or archery and fencing or abseiling and climbing. The raft building teams worked brilliantly together, constructing two seaworthy vessels. Once in the water, the Purple team won the raftball and the Green team won the across the pond and back race. The children then decided that it was a best idea to jump in the pond (perhaps they forgot it was November!) The teachers too jumped in, not wishing to be accused of ‘chickenery’. The archers and fencers had a blast and forget Annie Oakley get your gun, its Amelia grab your bow! The abseilers and climbers worked brilliantly to cheer and encourage each other and were praised by the Staff for their determination and resilience.
After dinner (fish, chips, sweetcorn and peas followed by chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce), the three teams that did not venture out last night went on the night walk. Grouped up, with our cyalumes attached to our rucksacks, we set off. Half way around, we stopped in the woods and enjoyed a drink and snack and shared funny stories around the ‘torch fire’ The night sky was fairly clear so we were able to do some star gazing before heading back in for hot chocolate and flapjacks and then it was pyjamas and bed!
A slow start this morning was not helped by the Dartmoor mizzle that threatened!. First was the 'lost and found' session to try to reunite dry clothes with owners before we headed into breakfast. An hour later, with breakfast all cleared up, we headed off to activities: rock scrambling, raft building and low adventure. The view from the top of the tor visibly deteriorated whilst we were up there but this did not stop the enthusiastic scramblers from routing their way through the holes in the granite formations. The high ropes groups took on the Jacobs Ladder and the vines whilst the low adventurist tackled the leadership challenges before taking on the battle of the mud river and the stream.
After lunch, it was more low adventure, high ropes and rock scrambling. This time the scamblers couldn't see very much as the Dartmoor mist came right in but again their enthusiasm did not wain as they climbed and scrambled and learnt all about the history of Letterboxing. The high ropes brought their own challenges with the children choosing how far they wanted to go and aiming to beat that target - we definitely have some frustrated circus acts. Low adventure, despite the slight drizzle, proved to be a high point. The children worked really well together and completed all tasks successfully. However, the high point, was the mud river. 'I'm never allowed to play in mud - this is so fun!' was the most common chant!
After a massive roast turkey dinner, followed by vanilla ice cream and sprinkles, it was up to rooms to pack and get ready for formal rounds. At 7pm, we set off for the camp fire circle and sang a few songs and showed off our individual talents before toasting marshmallows. We returned to the accommodation block and waited for room inspections. The vast majority were really well prepared - try this at home; it works! The children then had hot chocolate and shortbread before enjoying 40 mins downtime before going to bed.
Singing in the rain (drizzle)
Friday 15th: Our last day started early as we had a lot to do: get dressed, strip our beds, collect any remaining dirty washing from the drying room, pack our suitcases and get them down to the meeting room - it was just like Piccadilly Circus at rush hour! The children were excited about going home but sad that the week was over so quickly. Once the rooms had all been checked and forgotten items reunited with their owners, there was a presentation ceremony where the combined , had identified children who were particularly resilient or supportive. Congratulations to Daniel, Ryan, Lexie, Kayla and Maja who were all singled out for praise. After that, the children started their final activities; either Tamakali Island (practical challenges) or Orienteering (finding key points around the grounds using a map). Despite the thick mist, the challenges were complete by midday. There was then time to sit and eat our packed lunches before the coaches arrived, were loaded and we returned to school. A fabulous week which we have all enjoyed! Thank you so much parents for letting us come - it was awesome!
Now you know why we would like all clothing named!
A definite Dartmoor pea-souper.
Even the peacocks came to say goodbye!