School Journey October 2023
The last day in the School Journey House
So our final full day is over and done and what a full day it was.
The wake-up song this morning was another old classic and a requested one- the Nokia ring tone. What more can I say. I felt I managed to put heart and soul into it.
We awoke to rain this morning- Uh Oh- We weren’t going to let a little weather ruin our fun. We decided to forego football and the field before breakfast and, being the toast monsters we are, headed to the dining room in time to devour our body weights in cereal, toast and yoghurts.
By the time our first activity got underway the rain had not only stopped but stayed away until this evening.
The first activity this morning was Den building. I can only apologise for the washing you now have to do. Carrying logs and collecting branches of trees to arrange into a new kind of house was not only fun but rather messy especially after the rain. On the bright side the children were then insulated with mud for the rest of the day. Using ‘y’ sticks and other logs they were able to create dens big enough to fit their team ( and new pets) in to shelter from the ‘harsh conditions’.
Break time and snacks were quickly followed by a visit to see the cows in the neighbouring field. The children were fascinated by them. They were a small herd of beef cattle and as they came close to the fence the children were able to see them at close hand. There was a discussion as to what they were there for? Are they pets? Why don’t they come over when we moo at them? What happens to them? Why does the farmer have them? After the discussion a couple of children have decided to become vegan- not because Ms DeVilliers named each cow after a burger shop (that one is Five Guys, that’s Maccie D..) but because the children were far from impressed with the cow’s toilet habits!
Problem solving, our next activity helped to bring us all back down to earth with a bump. A series of puzzles that encouraged the children to work as a team to solve riddles and come up with collaborative solutions to the problems set. They really have started to listen twice as much as they talk.
Dinner rolled around and it was giant baguettes, fillings, and soup. Just what was needed after a long walk through the fields.
After lunch we were on to activity number 3 for the day. Escape and evasion- Miss B managed to escape and evade this as she went up to watch the group on archery duty. The bows were lifted, the arrows flew and with the promise of extra chips at dinner many of the children hit the target. One of them not only hitting the gold centre ring for a score of 20, but the smaller inner ring for a score of 50 and not only that, hit the tiny “x” that marks the centre spot! We have photographic evidence of it and the winner had their photo taken alongside their impressive victory. (Miss B also had her photo taken, pretended it was her victory and sent the photo to all her family and friends!)
The final activity of the day was escape and evasion where the children had to follow clues, look for evidence and try to find an escaped squirrel. They walked around the site (running is so last week) looking for evidence and trying to rescue Sammy Squirrel. They’re enthusiasm lasted to the very end.
Dinner arrived- Fish and chips or Veggie burger and chips. The dessert was a homemade flapjack that should not be allowed- it was too delicious. We waited for another school to leave before us, just so we got the extra flapjacks as seconds- How naughty!
What else could there be today I hear you all cry- Only the disco!
Songs were picked at lunchtime; outfits were chosen well in advance and it was back to the house to change and ready ourselves. The girls’ rooms were a wash with face masks, perfume and fancy clothes- The boys rooms more tracksuits and crocs.
They all looked amazing, even those that wore their pyjamas! They danced, they sang, they lost their voices (should have started the week with a disco) What an end to an amazing week- all that is left is to pack, carry out a final activity and get on a coach heading to a little place we call Brixton. Your children have had a ball. They have run, jumped, laughed, cried, sang, danced and above all had fun. All we can say as staff is Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. We have been privileged to be here to witness it.
Day Three and we have smashed it!
Well the fun and frolics we have had today.
The morning started with the standard wake up call- I went with a disco classic today-“I will Survive!” Except for one of the rooms which had specifically asked for “Let it go” from frozen. I never tire of seeing the looks on their faces when they are awoken from sleep like this- Try it when they get home- they love it!
Up and out, a run on the field and off to breakfast. Cereal, eggs and more toast than even Greggs can manage. From breakfast it was a short hop to the first activities. Our activities today included, Mission X, The cube, Bushcraft-Survival and the amazing Jacob’s ladder.
Mission X was about navigating a low ropes obstacle course. Using only balance (which turns out is not a natural skill for some) and a few hand held ropes we had to move around the course WITHOUT falling off. A lot easier said than done- especially in wellington boots.
You have to rely on your spotters to help you if you wobble.
The cube involved a series of problem solving and teamwork challenges and encouraged listening, co-operation and collaboration. I mean talking we can do- how hard can this be. By working together and problem solving the children managed to not only accomplish the task but also work together in a way that we haven’t seen before- proper co-operation and they just seemed so ‘grown up’.
Lunch came up fast again and today it was jacket potatoes or hotdogs or both if need be. Some wanted just a sandwich and salad and that is what they had. I mean some of us had it all. After lunch we had some down time so it was back to football on the field, searching for newts, frogs and trying to pick up ladybirds- you remember the ones they were a little freaked out by on Monday- they now want to bring home. Don’t worry I won’t let them.
The afternoon activities began with bushcraft, which was all about the knots, oh and how to make a trap!! I am a little worried about giving them ideas on how to create a trap as I don’t wish to be their prey! They didn’t all enjoy this activity as it wasn’t as active and fun as they like, but you live and learn.
The final activity that we all took part in today was the Jacobs ladder. This really is a challenging activity. The children have to climb a ladder- easy you think, until you see the ladder. It is around 10 metres high and made from giant logs that swing. Not so easy. They are attached to ropes and have to climb up as far as they can (or want) to go. Overcoming their natural fear is really tough and its good to be taken out of your comfort zone every now and then. I have to say all of your children were amazing and I mean amazing. They climbed as far as they could and still went just one higher to prove that they could DO IT. Some climbed quickly, some slowly, some noisily and some with great big smiles (that’s not normal!) The instructors couldn’t believe how many reached the top of the ladder and were amazed by the determination and tenacity that St Helens children showed. St Helens Staff too, were amazing supporting and encouraging their children with cries of “just go one more” and “you can do it”. I was so proud to see every child fly back down to earth with smiles on their faces and a real sense of achievement in their eyes. I have had lots of them request I send you photos because in their words “my mum won’t believe it”-Well we have proof.
Dinner crept up on us quickly and tonights choices were chicken curry, rice and poppadoms or tomato pasta- and poppadoms. We definitely have a few budding cooks- some have taken to scoring the meals out of ten, others are experimenting with adding olives and pickles to every meal. We love listening to them chatting and eating together as one big family.
We played on the field until it was almost dark then in to our evening entertainment which tonight was a quiz. Teams were selected and questions answered. Miss Devilliers and Ms Johnson seemed to think they would be the winners- how wrong they were. The first 20 questions were all Disney based! So unless you know “who we don’t talk about” in Encanto- you didn’t stand a chance! (It’s Bruno by the way) The one thing Miss B has learned this week is that she has to give up her Disney plus subscription and get out more as she knew way too many answers to the questions on Moana and Tangled!
Showers, bed and the longed for sleep.
Today has been amazing and we know we keep using this word but these children really are. Every year we forget just how much School Journey transforms us and we get to see the children in a different light, not struggling with learning or friendships or tethered to their phones- but as children running around shouting, laughing, singing, climbing, slipping, slidding and doing what they do best- being kids!
Thank you again for lending them to us- we appreciate your trust.
Day two in the
Big Brother School Journey House
Good evening and what a good evening it is!
Our day started amazingly this morning- a tawny owl sitting outside one of the girls bedrooms woke them with its hooting, I was particularly sad as this is my favourite part of the day. I get to be the human alarm clock- not an owl. Not to disheartened I still had at least 6 other rooms to awaken from their slumbers. What shall the alarm call be this morning? I wondered, Beyonce? Frozen? I went with a very old classic- “The sun is out the sky is blue… “ I think it was appreciated by all of the children and it had the desired effect- the were up!!! We were off and raring to go. Football on the field by 7:45 slipping and sliding on the grass and searching for the elusive rabbits. No rabbits, no injuries and at least 4 goals- win.
Breakfast was croissants, pain au chocolat, toast, cereal and fruit- Yes and not or! It was devoured, tables cleaned and activity one was underway.
We have had a number of different activities today. Body Zorbing- climbing into a giant beach ball and running around a field (well thats what it looked like!) Escape the room- solve some puzzles and we might let you out for lunch. Buggy building- take a load of logs, plastic barrels and rope and try to make it into a vehicle. Water wars- exactly that water games and the inevitable water fight at the end.
Escape the room was fun- problem solving is definitely where some their skills lie. Number, word and logic puzzles had to be solved until they found the combination of the lock and were let free from the room- there isn’t anyone left in there I did check.
Zorbing came next and oh my! some couldnt run for laughing, some couldn't stand because they were upside down and trying to play a sumo wrestling game in a giant plastic bubble was just exhausting and fun. A definite favourite tonight when they were chatting.
Lunch snuck up on us quite quickly- Huge baguettes, cheese, ham, salad and homemade vegetable soup. Delicious and welcome. With full tummies and smiling faces we took a break before the afternoon activities. Some went hunting for bugs, others played football and some chatted and made newer friends. We had an addition the class when Angie found what she thought was a lizard- it was a newt and lots of the children wanted to keep it as a class pet. After we talked about it preferring dark warm places - yes the bedrooms were dark and warm- but no we were going to return it to its correct habitat so he could lead a life crawling around looking for food rather than running up arms and nestling in jumpers.
The afternoon activities started and buggy building was hilarious tying knots and lifting logs was hard work especially when you have no idea what a ‘buggy’ looks like- We went with a classic Fred Flintstone design. I can see why I am often asked to tie shoelaces- knots are definitely something we need to work on. Some of them now know what a reef knot is- not Mr Caffrey!
The sun came out and it turns out water wars brings out the best in many people and the worst in others (Ms Johnson!) Wet and ridiculously happy it was a quick pit stop back at the rooms to get dry and change ready for dinner. Tonights dinner was a triumph- mac and cheese or Spaghetti Bolognaise. The portions were amazing and the food tasted good. One Gordon Ramsey in the class felt that the reason the food was so good was that it was all “homemade from real food and not pre made rubbish” Again your children are brilliant.
Back to the rooms, no time for feet up- grab a jacket and the all important torch it was the night hike. A walk through some woods across and farmers field and back to the house around 45 minutes in total- I think they should definitely sleep tonight. After hot chocolate, sharing our favourite parts of the day and showers. All are in bed, many are sleeping and some are snoring their heads off.
A great day and a lovely bunch of kids- Thank you again for lending them to us.
Day one in the School Journey House ( a bit like big brother but more fun)
Good evening from a very tired and sleepy house.
We arrived safe and sound after pointing out every sheep, cow or horse we saw from the coach. We were amazed by the size of the house and how fancy it looked. Desperate to eat and use the bathrooms (not in that order) we started our adventures. Packed lunches were consumed and tidied away quickly with the offer of a tour of the site and then our first activities.
We walked around the grounds getting used to where everything was and noticing the very nice set of goals we will definitely be using this week. Oh and just for your information at home – there are a lot of bugs in the countryside- we saw at hundreds of butterflies (about 5!) and thousands of ladybirds (at least 40!) Squirrels, rabbits and cows- although they aren’t bugs apparently!!!!
First activities today were aeroball (bouncing around on a trampoline playing basketball at the same time) Sensory adventure where you are lead around an obstacle blindfolded and you have to trust the person in front to give you the right instructions. I think we all learned something there!!!!! Not necessarily the right things more like if I lift my blindfold I can cheat!!!!. Lots of exclamation marks today!!!! One group got to do archery, that was exciting and a little frightening in equal measures. No one to represent us at the Olympic games yet but you never know.
Then the most exciting bit- the rooms. We all settled in well and made our OWN beds- so if they don’t do it at home they can now. There was sharing of skills and outfits, no sharing of snacks yet but I do have one big IKEA bag full of them.
Dinner came next- Chicken nuggets and chips- obviously not the vegetarians. The salad bar is amazing, and I didn’t realise so many of our children liked olives. There was so much food seconds were offered and taken. Its amazing the appetite you build up running around fields and bouncing on trampolines. “Miss Miss its like a five star hotel” I love our kids.
Back to the rooms to collect jackets and hoodies or football on the field, I bet you all know which activity your child chose. The evening entertainment tonight was a campfire. Singing and games, even a magic trick or two. Next came toasting marshmallows and becoming more sticky than you can ever imagine. Torches were in full use this evening and I am not sure I will ever be able to see again- we have to practise pointing them at the floor or the sky not Miss B’s eyes. Classic line from today I think was- “Miss what are those lights in the sky”- “They are stars”- “Oh I never seen those in London.”
Rest assured we are not the only school here but our manners are the best and our behaviour and attitudes are commendable. Thank you for lending us your children this week- We will ensure that we look after them and that they return to you happy and grateful for the opportunity you have allowed them to have.
All sleeping now- a few missing home (Mr Caffrey) some missing their mums and dads (Ms Johnson) and others being brave and taking every opportunity they are offered.