This week we took 40 children on a residential visit to Ambleside (beautiful despite the sometimes relentless rain). They completed team building challenges, ghyll scrambling (if you ever get the opportunity – go!) canoeing and hiking. Not to be outdone by the considerably younger staff team I got stuck in and by the time we finally arrived home, my aching body yearned for a deep bath and time just for me.
Whilst relaxing, I was listening to the music from Matilda the Musical by @timminchin. I know that might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s definitely mine. I was listening to Naughty and the words made me think:
Jack and Jill, went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water, so they say
Their subsequent fall was inevitable
They never stood a chance, they were written that way
Innocent victims of their story…
…But nobody else is gonna put it right for me
nobody but me is gonna change my story
sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.
How many children think that their story is already written? That their day to day existence determines what they can expect or aspire to when they grow up?
A well planned residential visit can offer opportunities for children to have experiences that they would never otherwise get, to see places so unlike those where they live and to discover things about themselves that they had been unaware of.
This week I have seen children conquer fears, marvel at the wide vistas of the Lake District and all that ‘green’, feel exhilaration wading through waterfall pools and pride in accomplishing new challenges. Some quieter children have demonstrated great leadership skills and some have learned that they can survive without gadgets. I like to think that the experience has given them a glimpse of the possibilities in the future and the idea that their story doesn’t have to be written already – that they can create their own futures by becoming aware of the wider world.
It also makes me cross – this could be the last residential visit for our school for some time to come. We have always needed to heavily subsidise these visits in order to make them affordable and to ensure access for as many children as possible but tightening budgets (and they are NOT increasing in real terms as we are frequently told) means a strong likelihood that schools like ours can no longer sustain this.