We all arrived on Monday morning to glorious sunny weather at the Frank Chapman Centre. We spent the first part of our time getting to know the people in our dormitories, unpacking our bags and making our beds. We were staying in large dormitories full of bunk beds. Following this, we had to complete a fire test and have a tour of the centre so we could familiarise ourselves with our surroundings. We learnt where we could go in free time and where we needed to meet for our sessions.
Throughout the course of the week, our three groups took part in a round-robin of activities. On Monday afternoon, we stayed in a large group but we were competing against each other in our activity group teams. We took part in various activities earning points for our teams. The activities included gutters (using individual guttering pieces to roll a ball to a cone without dropping it), the mine, low ropes, an obstacle course whilst holding a cup of water and to finish off we had the water pipe where we all got very wet!
Over the middle three days of the residential, we all took turns to take part in archery, climbing, high ropes, bushcraft and catapults.
Our first high ropes session was crate stack and Jacob’s ladder. This required us to work in pairs to try and get as high as we could on both obstacles. On crate stack, we had to pile the crates as high as we could whilst balancing on top! On Jacob’s ladder, we had to work together to climb our way up a ladder where the gaps got bigger and bigger! On our second high ropes session, we did the challenge assent and the high all aboard. For the challenge assent we had to try and climb to the top of the high ropes using ladders and ropes, and the high all aboard we tried to climb to the top of a tall tower and stand on a platform at the top! Some of us went up in pairs together!
On our bushcraft session, we learnt how to make our own little fires from scratch. We had to forage in the woodlands for little twigs and sticks and find dry grass to use at the very start of the fire. Our instructor showed us some different ways you can light a fire and then gave us a fire steel to light ours. We found this very challenging but had a great sense of pride when they lit and we saw them grow into bigger fires! We then cooked some damper bread on our fires and this was very tasty, even though some of us ate it raw in the middle! Our instructor was also very knowledgeable about how to live in the woods and said he had cooked a whole roast dinner on a fire in his back garden!
For our archery session, we all learnt how to correctly load the bow and arrow and how to aim and shoot at a target. This was much easier said than done! Some of the leaders got a little competitive with each other! As this session didn’t last as long, some groups went and completed the nightline course as well. This is where the group are all blindfolded and you have to follow a line with you hand through the wood whilst navigating different obstacles. It was useful to work together and tell people behind you what was coming up in front.
Lastly, we all took part in climbing. This was great as we could all go as high as we wanted to and didn’t have to reach the top to feel like we had achieved something and had a go. We worked together to hold the ropes of the people climbing and encouraged each other to do our best. Some of us took up the challenge of trying to climb up using just one colour of hold on the wall…that was very tricky!
The Frank Chapman centre provided us with lovely home-cooked food throughout the course of our stay with them. Our breakfasts were made up of a choice of cereals, fruit salad and toast with various toppings. For lunch, we made our own rolls choosing fillings from tuna, egg, turkey, cheese and jam. There was also the option of fruit and crisps and a home-cooked cake or biscuit. These included iced sponges, cornflake flapjack, shortbread and muffins!
For dinner, we were always given options as to what we would like, with there always being a jacket potato with fillings and a fully stocked salad bar to help ourselves to. Our meals included pizza with chips and beans, sausages with mashed potato and vegetables, chicken pie with potatoes and vegetables and spaghetti bolognese. All our evening meals were followed by puddings like strawberry cheesecake, jam tart and custard and chocolate sponge with chocolate custard. Yummy!
Throughout the week we had different evening entertainment after dinner and before bed. On Monday night, we had a huge game of hide and seek in our free time area. This was great fun and we managed not to lose anyone, although some pairs/groups couldn’t be found and had to come back to the horseshoe when our instructor rang the bell! Obviously they found some amazing hiding places!
On Tuesday evening we all took part in a game called 101. This was where in our teams we had to run around the activity centre site to answer 101 questions like ‘What bird is guarding the kitchen door?’ and ‘What does the sign say next to the boot room door?’ We had great fun running around and trying to get the right answers and beating our competing teams.
On Wednesday we went on a muddy stream walk in the woods. Some of us decided that we just wanted a nice amble through the woods, whilst others of us got very muddy and wet by walking up the streams and commando crawling through the mud! Lots of laughs and fun were had with many of us needing hosing down and showers on arrival back at the centre.
On our last night, Thursday, we had a disco in the evening and just spent time chilling out in our friendship groups outside. It was a nice end to the week to be able to play together and chat before we all left the next day.
On our last morning, we had to have our bags packed and beds stripped before breakfast, so our leaders woke us up a little earlier than usual…groan..! For our last activity session, our groups were all together again for orienteering. This is where we used a map of the centre and the grounds to locate different markers and punch a stamp into an orienteering card.
We split into smaller groups and our instructor taught us how to read an orienteering map and what all the different symbols meant. We used the larger orienteering map which meant we were allowed to go into the woods to find the markers, and not just stick to the free time area! Some of us did get a little lost, but we knew that to get back to the centre we just had to walk uphill! We impressed our instructor with the number of markers we found!
It was then time for our last packed lunch which we ate outside in the centre grounds as it was a nice day. We said our goodbyes and the minibus/our parents came to pick us up. We all had an amazing time, made new friends and tried lots of new things. Home for a well-needed sleep!
-Deborah Mcgarvey, CYP Coordinator-