By: Helen Russell, Head of Mathematics
Birch Hall Adventure Camp, an idyllic farmland location on the Essex coast, was bathed in sunshine as the triad of minibuses unloaded our enthusiastic campers. Once welcomed and briefed on safety, boundaries and respect for ‘person, place and property’ the fun began! Pitching tents and the long awaited ‘ reveal’ to find out who was sharing with who soon abated as the four activity ‘tribes’ split off to enjoy bushcraft, archery, climbing or low ropes. All of the activities were led by a fully qualified adventure instructor with a Fram Prep teacher in close attendance to help out where needed.
Supper around the campfire was a plentiful pasta bolognese followed by apple crumble which Arabella Innes declared as the ‘best she had ever tasted’! A torch lit night walk took us from the farm to the sea wall where Alex Phillips (Director of Birch Hall Adventures) enthralled the group with true tales of the farms ‘decoy role’ in WW2 to protect Felixstowe and Harwich docks. After a warming hot chocolate by the campfire, pupils began their bedtime routine although it was quite some time before all were ‘bound for morningtown’…
Friday 22nd September was a gloriously sunny day. Fortified with bacon butties and plenty of strong coffee (staff only) the day began with a tribal battle entitled Archery Tag. This was a team-bonding strategy game which involved shooting padded arrows at your opposing tribes and protecting your tribal chief. It was hard to tell whether the children or the chiefs (Mr Rogers, Mr Loveridge, Mr Greenhall and Miss de Podesta) enjoyed it the most but it certainly brought out Mr Roger’s killer instinct. Luckily Mrs Cullum was in attendance to ensure any injuries were quickly patched up!
With homemade cakes and cookies to keep everyone going until the cook-out fajita lunch, the activity carousel swung into action again. A great buzz interspersed the day as children from different tribes reunited at the camp fire to swap stories of bullseyes, trust falls, belaying, seal spotting, fire lighting and nearly falling in to the mud.
By dusk, all were ready for some downtime on the campsite whilst the burgers and sausages sizzled on the BBQ. Evening descended as we sat around the roaring campfire singing silly songs accompanied by Mr Roger’s ukulele and then something rather magical happened.
Year 6 have been learning poems by heart for an upcoming school competition and Mr Loveridge invited those who felt brave enough to recite their limericks, ditties and odes by the campfire. What an extraordinary well of talent bubbled from the ranks …perhaps the cover of darkness helped to unleash so many impressive ‘off the cuff’ performances: Oscar Franklin’s word perfect tree-top jabberwocky was a wonder to behold! Toasting marshmallows seemed a fitting way to end a totally top-notch day.
After a much heartier night’s sleep, the camp was treated to another stunning Essex sunrise as our last camping adventure day dawned. Having packed and almost managed to get the tents away before the drizzle struck (luckily the huge climbing wall barn doubled as a drying room) the Grand Manoeuvre began. It would spoil it for future trips to say too much about this activity…let’s just say that it was a suitably exciting and challenging finale to a memorable, magical school trip which has launched the Year 6 pupils into their final year of Junior Prep.
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