This morning, we were awoken by the wonderful sounds of nature...well at least that's how I would like to have started today's blog. We were actually disturbed by the foghorns of ships as they passed through the thick fog that had settled around the area. We really are seeing all types of weather and conditions this week, and the prospect of a thunder storm is very exciting.
As I write, the children are all happily playing on the beach having just had a slice of birthday cake with Elliot, or they are taking a bit of time out to shower after being out (or 'in' for some of them) of the water after kayaking. It's clearly been the highlight of the week for the children so far, and the fact that they are just a little more exhausted, and just a little more likely to sleep well, makes it a highlight for me too.
Earlier in the week, the children were pleading for us to let them go in the water for a paddle or a swim, and some had plotted to capsize 'accidentally' so they could cool down and enjoy a dip. After the first few genuinely did fall in and they got a sense of how cold it is, they became less enthused.
Not that sleep was a problem last night. Thankfully the temperature had dropped and the new sleeping plan ensured that everyone slept well. In fact, the rooms were quiet by 10pm, which for a group of 32 is very good going I think. The day started with a hearty cooked breakfast, and then everyone had their first taste of climbing at Calshot, although it was quickly apparent that some of the children have climbed before. Once again, the children proved to us (and, more importantly, to themselves) that they are far more able than they give themselves credit for. Once again, it was the climbing that proved to those who always succeed in the classroom that there are going to be other challenges that they will overcome; for some, whose classroom experience isn't always full of success, climbing gave them more confidence about themselves and what they can achieve - for me, this is another one of the amazing things about residentials...they can be a great 'leveller'. And, once again, the children helped each other when things got tough for one of their friends, and they applauded those who went beyond what they thought was possible.
For two of the groups, there was a session on the beach today, during which they learned about the local area and its features, and identified some of the different things that have washed up over the years. It was a calmer session than some of the others but the children really engaged. It probably helped that Mrs Simmons gave up her time to be with the children today, turning it into a brilliant field trip experience.
The third group were on the low ropes, which is an initiative course that requires team-work and collaboration to complete. It was really interesting to see how the group developed over time and eventually started to communicate more effectively to come up with a plan. They didn't quite reach the goal, but the learning journey that they went on as a group was really valuable.
Here are some of the highlights of the day:
Livie was absolutely brilliant this morning when she showed great confidence to get things started on the climbing wall for her group, who were all quite reluctant at first...but that didn't last!
Ciara and Imogen both found real strength to overcome their challenges on the climbing wall today. They were on one of the tallest segments of the walls and both managed to make it half way up on their own. Thankfully, and this is probably because of the safety measures in place, all of our children were climbing at the same time so I had the opportunity to offer a little bit of encouragement. With a small pinch of direction for where to place hands and feet, and a huge dollop of perseverance, both girls made it up the wall to tap the highest hold. I have a feeling they will remember this for a very long time...and once again, they made me very proud.
Layla was also brilliant on the climbing wall but she was even better with descending, which Mrs Simmons described as: 'confident and stylish' - I wish I'd seen it.
Theo had another great day too. There was a lot of nervousness about the big wall and although he did get off the ground he was clearly not happy with himself...so what did he do? He got on a different wall and got up to the target he set himself. What wonderful determination!
One of the stars of the day though, for me and the children, was Harvey, who was the first to reach the top of one of the higher walls; something that he achieved wholly independently and with incredible speed. He is clearly a natural at climbing. Hearing his friends cheering him on from around the climbing arena was one of the nicest moments of the week so far.
In another of the groups, Connie chose to climb first and she showed some incredible skills, reaching the highest hold in quick time and without the need for much help at all...it was fantastic.
Connie was then followed up the wall by James and Owen, who both found their own personal challenge with the wall. I didn't get to help Owen out but I did see where he got to on his own. I heard him calling down: 'I can't get any higher!' but I really don't think he realised quite how far he managed to climb. I did though get to see James halfway up the wall and ready to come down. Now, this is where it's tricky for us because you can't always be sure how much to encourage the children when they are ready to give up. James had many opportunities to stop climbing, and there were tears. But those tears turned in to the best of smiles, full of self-pride,
when with motivation and some direction, James reached the very top hold. I think he will also remember this day for a long time. And his true character showed through after he had descended, when, with a bit of a hug, he simply said, "Thank you!" That's the bit I will remember for a long time.
Whilst some children were on the beach, Hanna showed us all her logical mind when tackling the teamwork challenges of the low-ropes initiative. She has a clear view of problem solving, which will undoubtedly be put to great use in later life.
In the afternoon kayaking, Izzy made masses of progress in just one session, which started with her not able to stay straight or move much in any direction, and ended with confidence, smiles, speed and laughter (which came after she took a dip in her capsized kayak).
Other victims of the overturned boat included Georgie, Tommy, Harrison and Ollie (but Ollie's might have had something to do with me...sorry mum and dad!) Phoebe showed some great skills in the kayaking too, and was really competitive in the games we played...she was also the first to deliberately splash the teacher. There was payback of course (again...sorry mum and dad!)
And now a selection of quotes from some of your children:
Ollie: Monday was really fun although it was half a day and the food is really good. Wednesday we had climbing in the morning and I was surprisingly quick at it.
Owen: The coach ride was a very interesting trip. I beat William at everything we played and the back of my seat kept getting kicked, but it was all fine as we were all excited.
William: Our first activity was skiing and everyone enjoyed it. It was boiling in the centre, and I fell over seven times. But apart from that I loved it.
Harrison: I really enjoyed skiing because, although I was bad, it was really fun and I really proud of myself.
Eddie: I really enjoyed ringos. We were given freedom to choose how to come down and Mr G made me spin really fast.
Livie: We are having so much fun!! I really enjoyed the donutting (ringos). Also, we did rock climbing today. Me and my friends got to the top so we are really proud.
Cameron: I think we have all had a fun day today, but my favourite part was the Aerotrek.
James: I am really proud of myself as I went to the top of the Team Swing.
Layla: I really enjoyed the rock climbing because I made it to the top even though I was worried.
Theo: I've enjoyed most of the activities but favourite was the skiing because when you get down the slope, it starts slow then goes really fast.
Casper: So far, I have really enjoyed ALL OF IT!
Tommy: Shooting was so much fun; I really enjoyed it.
Ciara: I really enjoyed rock climbing today. It took a bit of persuasion to get to the top but I finally made it and I'm very proud of myself.
Conor: Today we did rock climbing and I got to the top - I was really proud of myself.
Noah: Today, we did kayaking and it was really fun. We saw an endangered bird as well.
Priya: I really enjoyed climbing the rock climbing wall because I tried to go as high as I could.
Erin: I really enjoyed the lazer climb as it challenged our teamwork. I am really proud of myself as I went to the maximum height on the team swing.
Millie: I have really enjoyed Calshot so far but my favourite parts have been the team swing and shooting.
Georgie: I am absolutely loving Calshot and my favourite part so far has been Aerotrek. It was really good fun.
Megan: I really adored the skiing and I very proud of myself because I challenged myself to do a jump and I succeeded in that goal.
Final quotes tomorrow...excuse any typos (it's late)...enjoy the photos.