Apologies for the photos being rotated - the website is automatically doing this and I have no control over it. Sorry (from Mr Hall).
Thursday 13th March
Thursday morning began with a little Katy Perry and all her fireworks, specially requested by Hamidha. Things began slowly this morning, as tiredness and lack of sleep began to take their toll on both children and staff. Eventually though, all were ready and for once Group G headed off to breakfast first after finally getting their roll call right. Breakfast consisted of cereals (or several if you were Tyler) and a hot cooked meal. Before embarking on our activities, the whole group and the whole dining room joined in singing Happy Birthday to Aaya. Then it was off to day four tasks.
Group E had probably the best session of the week, as far as they were concerned, when Chris and Rob took us for bush craft. Initially it was a huge trek up to the very top of the local hill but Rob filled us in about redwoods, yews, elder trees and silver birches along the way. On arrival, we talked about what we thought bush craft was and then set about building some natural shelters using sticks and moss. Marc's group succeeded in building a lean to, whereas the girls had a des-res residence for about three. Isaac really came into his own with so much knowledge and know-how and his group constructed an A frame shelter. Then all the groups learnt how to start fires with flints and kindling. Once again the girls triumphed until they blew smoke in Chris' face. Marc and Yusuf won the awards of fire starters. Arriving back at the site, the group put together a radio show. After fish fingers and chips, our group went to the Leap of Faith. The children had to climb a telegraph pole and then leap off the top. Sumire and Yusuf shot up the poles and leapt off. Isaac, despite being smaller, scrambled his way up and leapt for glory too. Finally Veena, in designer wellies and matching top, got to the top, let out an ear piercing scream of fear and then flew off the platform. We carried on with bouldering - climbing rocks horizontally. Everyone, even Mr H, managed to clamber round but the true champs were Marc, Rianne, Sumire and Isaac. Group E really pulled out all the stops today - well done.
Well, if we thought it was would be possible to have an extra 10 minutes lie-in this morning, we were sadly mistaken; Mr Hollis was heard singing and dancing with great enthusiasm! Group F started the day with Radio Play (broadcasting skills). Both Isha and Sabah displayed fantastic imagination in developing their background story and were incredibly clever when bringing together all the elements required. The day's activities continued high up in the hill, where the children learnt all about surviving in the wilderness. Throughout the two-hour session, Juanita was heard to say "That's amazing!" and " I didn't know that," many times. The group also learnt to build themselves a shelter, light a fire and how to filter water using moss!
In the afternoon, Group F completed their flash dance film, which had been started on day one. Not only did they create an animated film with imaginative and colourful backgrounds and add transitions, they also added sound using Dance Djay, an unfamiliar software programme. Kuba and Bilal astonished everyone with their motion picture. Steven Spielberg and David Guetta will definitely have some serious competition in the years to come. The night ended with the Trail of Mystery, where the children interrogated the members of a fictional school (that is to say Mr Hollis, Mrs Sisson, Mr Hale, Mrs Wellington) with Ms Dargavel helping the detectives.
Group G's trek on Thursday began with Jacob's Ladder. Jermaine managed to make himself look like a professional as he traversed and crossed Jacob's Ladder reaching the top. To top that, on the Jungle Vines that followed, he was across quicker than Ms Dargavel at dinner time. Raya, Mahdiyya and Jor-el also showed incredible athletic prowess on Jacob's Ladder and the Jungle Vines. The shock was Milly whipping up the ropes and poles like a whippet. The Giggly Girls (Iqra, Priya and Zahra) really came into their own in the radio quiz presentation. Iqra should seriously consider a future role as a radio presenter!! Hamzah, Huma and Maariyah all surpassed their personal goals on Jacob's Ladder and Jungle Vines, with Huma also finding the courage to sit on the 3G swing and going right up to the top. Talk about a hero!! One fear that we have not been able to lay to rest this week is Raya's phobia towards mud. She still panics and trembles with fear every time her feet come into contact with the gloopy substance!
Group H have demonstrated grit and determination on day 4. Building on successes and challenges from the last few days, they have climbed even higher and many took the leap of faith to the amazement of Ms Dargavel and Mr Hale. Aaya celebrated her birthday by entering double figures in style, storming up the tree towards the leap of faith with inspiring confidence. Haris was a star as always and Mitchell, Asmita, Maryam, Gorang, Zeeshan and Hamidha all climbed and jumped with little fear! By far the most entertaining climb however, was Sanaa who flew up, then decided to sit and shuffle, as did Tyler, who asked the audience what he should do next! He jumped and spent the next few minutes on cloud nine! Caving was attempted by one and all and our leader was the very vocal Zeeshan, who shouted instructions to us all, as if we were in the cave over the hill and far away!
The day finished with a murder mystery - though the biggest mystery was why was Mr Hale wearing a dress? The children interviewed five suspects including a teenage rebel of 16 (Mr Hollis can act!), a deputy head (if only Mrs Wellington), a sports teacher (Mrs Sisson - don't ask!) and a swotty perfect prefect - yes your very own Mr Hale. In the end justice was served and the real culprit caught... Mrs Wellington - deputy heads don't act like that at all!
Wednesday 12th March
Bleary eyed and zombie like to the thunder of 'Living On A Prayer', Mr Hale finally appeared from his room ready for the challenges of a new day. The Year 5 boys rocked out as they got ready, much to the annoyance of the Year 6 boys, who wanted a bit of Little Mix! We had reached our middle day without too much trauma. Some children had complained of nightmare visions of seeing the teachers sing and dance.....until they were reminded that was not a nightmare but a reality. Dressed and smartly groomed (see Ms D - an adverb) the troop bundled their weary way down to breakfast on Day 3.
Breakfast was another warm meal and yes to all the parents, who are worrying, your child is eating the food. After breakfast, we prepared for our activities, each group with a new target for the day ahead.
First for Group E today was Saving Swampy - a fight between saving a local wood or building a chemical factory. The children had to do lots of science experiments to prove whether or not certain facts were right. Isaac and Shuaib were excellent plant spotters and Yusuf discovered a fox print under a tree. It was with great delight that a new partnership flourished between Tion and Alicia, who brought the best out of each other. After collecting a mountain of evidence, we went off caving. Again extra mention must go to Alicia and Tumelo for their help when clambering through the caverns. The whole group surged with pride afterwards and had a new found buzz.
In the afternoon, Group E headed up the very steep hill to the 3G Swing and again almost every child succeeded in meeting the target they had set themselves. Veena was our trail blazer - soaring to the top before swinging down the floor. It was great to see children like Marshell and Marc pushing their boundaries but also being extra supportive to everyone else in the group. Great teamwork got us through the task. Problem solving amongst the trees came next... Let's just say this is not our group's strength. We ended up with Daniyal in the mud, Sumire and Veena doing some sort of dance on a log and Mr Hollis and Ms Dargavel collapsing in laughter. Out of it all however, Marc and Rianne proved to be great leaders and organisers.
Group F had yet another trip up into the picturesque woods , however this time it was on a very special mission - to save a young eco warrior called Swampy. The children were given a task to complete - finding evidence to support Swampy's cause and free Kingswood from the evil clutches of developers. Danyaal, Bilal, Moosa and Kuba uncovered evidence which clearly showed that Swampy was in fact not a villain but a hero. The group then joined forces with Group E to start their epic journey through the dark perils which lay before them within the caves. Although Mia and Louise found this activity difficult, they both fought through their fears to eventually complete three cave routes. Well done girls.
The afternoon was filled with high wire challenges (Jungle Vines, Zip Wire). Juanitia, Jorgia and Isha were - as far as I was concerned- born climbers, conquering the climbs in break neck speeds! Sabah has become a true adventurer and has proved that she can achieve anything when she sets her mind to it. It has been almost impossible to find anything that these fantastic children cannot achieve. They have proved that they are able to encourage, motivate and comfort each other with such maturity, it makes my role here almost redundant!
All were soon ready for breakfast looking refreshed and revived. Scrambled eggs, beans, hash browns, cereals and a nice cuppa gave us all a warm feeling. Next were the morning activities.
Group E had an up and down morning. Laser Quest was particularly exciting, making and defending bases with lasers. Rianne was very cunning facing the boys and Tion, Isaac and Alicia proved to be a great team. Though none were better than Shuaib and his cunning plans that kept everyone guessing and were very sneaky - like getting people when their backs were turned. This was followed by jungle vines, a rope traverse in the trees. Rianne, Mark and Sumire crossed with ease. We all played Robin Hood in the archery session after, with Danyaal and Marc being very accurate. Lunch was quickly eaten and afternoon activities continued and the endless trudge up the large hill to the activities. Group E continued their flash dance animations and then headed for the zip wire. What a star Shuaib turned out to be going first and heading straight down the line, despite his heart beating fast. He was quickly pursued by Veena, Rianne, Sumire, Daniyal and others all flying through the air. To finish we tried out hand at the Jacob's Ladder, a rope and pulley ladder. The team pulled well together but we finished the day knowing we were capable of more.
Group F had yet another amazing day! Although it was a very cold start, trudging up the hill towards Jacob's Ladder, did set the pace for the day ahead. Both Sabah and Louise showed such confidence and determination, overcoming their fears and anxieties have helped them cope better with new and unseen challenges. Jahrel, Danyaal and Moosa have led the team throughout the whole day and are all demonstrating great leadership skills. I think the whole group will agree with me that their best activity so far has been the Laser Zone, where they were given laser guns and asked to roam the woods in order to capture/defend their opponent’s flag. The best camping (hiding) tactics had to go to Kuba, who saw a stack of tyres and hid it them, firing multiple shots at unsuspecting victims as they ran past. Who knows what tomorrows challenges will bring but I am sure it will be an equally eventful day.
Full of enthusiasm, Group G excitedly scaled the hill up to the archery range. Robin Hood now had a new band of outlaws, as the children coped admirably with shooting arrows from full sized long bows. Hamzah was the star of the activity - scoring the highest points. We have discovered a 'young whippet' within the group. Mahdiyya showed how speedy and flexible her body was - scaling heights, climbing, abseiling and bouldering. Maariyah overcame her fears of the 3G swing. She soared and flew through the air, landing with a huge smile on his face. Jor-el and Jermaine have shown how nimble and athletic they were on the bouldering wall and climbing wall.
As for group H, well they were troopers without a doubt. Some technical difficulties meant that a certain Hamidha was left hanging around for a while clinging onto ice cold bars developing ice cold fingers! The smile drained but soon returned when released from the 3G swing high amongst the trees. Well done Hamidha! Abseiling was attempted by almost everyone but was conquered by only a few. Asmita took it on with a smile and Haris overcame his fears to 'show his beams' (whatever that means?!) and declare 'you've seen it once, now you'll see it twice' referring to his victory in the abseiling in Edale. Mitchell showed prowess on the climbing wall while Philomena fell around laughing and even forgot her name when asked by the instructor. The day has been interspersed by copious plates of delicious food that Mr Hale is enjoying no end!
Finally on day two, karaoke was enjoyed by all, the highlight of which was a bellowing 'Living on a prayer' from Asmita, Veena, Sanaa and Philomena. Where were the ear-plugs?! The teachers gave a great rendition of Dancing Queen, which was won by Mr Hollis and Ms Dargavel. Who said teachers can't win!!!!
Tuesday morning began to the smooth velvety tones of Hamzah's alarm clock- before 6.30am!Following a thud and a groggy "Morning!" from said boy, he was sent back to bed for a lie in! Why oh why!
Cheerful Tion provided entertainment with his question:
"Should I get showered?"
"Should I get dressed after my shower?"
"No Tion, we are going to breakfast in our PJs."
"What about after that?"
"We are doing all the activities in our PJs Tion."
"Really! Aaaah I need to get dressed after my shower!"
Everyone has arrived safely. We will publish photos as soon as they are sent through...
Monday 10th March
Life began early at Ms Dargavel's house. In fact, she did not really get any sleep at all, worrying about how all the children were going to cope in Colomendy. She need not have worried, as all the children had settled in by the end of the first day.
With bags, packed lunches, bags, medication, bags, money, bags, first aid kits, bags, Tion, crocodiles and did I mention bags, we set off for Wales just after 11am. Three minutes into journey came the inevitable 'Are we nearly there yet?' from Milly. The journey was fine. Mr Hollis' flask decided to go on an adventure of its own round a corner. Ms Dargavel won £1,000,000 in Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Mr Hale supervised all the children and the sick! Numerous battles were fought on PSP, iPads and 3DSs.
At exactly 2pm we arrived at Colomendy (just as Mr Hollis had said) and got all our gear off the bus. We met Taz, who was going to our team leader for the week and had a tour of the site and played a wicked game of dwarf, wizard or giant. After exploring the whole site and about 2 hours later (it was only about 20 minutes later) Mrs S and W turned up.
We headed to our rooms and discovered that boys really do have smelly feet! The girls had the edge in the bed making stakes, whereas the boys felt a bit put out with the demonstration from the teachers. Eventually all were ready and we headed off for our first activities.
Mrs Sisson's group made an extremely impressive start with Leap of Faith, an activity where they had to climb a telegraph pole and leap off, catching a swing. A real test of nerve, which nearly the whole group managed. They really tested their bravery, particularly impressive were Mahdiyya, Jor-el and Hamzah, who was a great role model to the others. Mr Hale's group started off bouldering - climbing across a wall sideways - Mitchell was really impressive at this. Mrs Wellington's and Ms Dargavel's group began with Flashdance - an animation film story where Shuaib, Tion and Rianne made an elephant epic with the hero Nellie getting the girl in the end. Kuba and Bilal had some really creative ideas in their animation.
Dinner was great - cheesy pasta, spag bol and chicken fajitas followed by apple crumble. Food was despatched quickly and back to rooms to wrap up warm for the campfire.
We had songs about sharks, bananas, a say boom chicka boom and many more. We had a joke standoff - Haris and Sanaa had us splitting our sides. Sanaa said:
"What's the difference between a teacher and a train driver? A teacher tells children not to chew but a train driver says choo choo choo"
Mr Hale was soundly beaten in the joke stand off against Mr Hollis (a budding comedian - so he thinks!), as the children did not find Mr Hale's frog and toilet joke that funny. Jor-el, Mia and Haris gave us some riddles to solve and then we ate pop corn cooked in the fire. Jahrel and Daaniyal threw together a few moves dancing round the fire.
Finally it was hot chocolate time and bed. At 10.15pm it was lights out and the teachers sat listening to sounds of ZZZZzzzzzzzs hitting the ceiling.