22nd May 2015
Writing: Freddie Lawson (Year 9), Ross McKenzie (Year 9), Jonny Grint (Year 9), Jonny Carr (Year 9), Sam Hames (Year 9), George Corby (Year 9), Cameron Smart (Year 8), Aidan Healy (Year 8) and Shan Patel (Year 7)
The middle of the summer term saw our usual Year 9 Activities Week, and its usual smorgasbord of adventure and excitement. The students have come back with a lot to say about the week - read on to see what they got up to.
I chose to visit Austria for my Activities Week largely because of the offer of white water rafting - something I had never done before but really wanted to experience. A lot of people had been put off by the 20 hour coach journey but this didn’t bother me as it went by in a flash. We left on the Friday prior to Activities Week and arrived the following morning at Zell Am See, a big lake in the mountains.
The week consisted of 10 different activities and a visit to Salzburg, the nearest city. As well as the white water rafting that I thoroughly enjoyed, I also had a great time on the high ropes, and going canyoning and cycling. High ropes was one of my favourite activities because the feeling of flying over a river from one side of a mountain to the other was indescribable. In the evenings, the hotel's amazing facilities meant we could play beach volleyball and indoor football at the end of the day - the opportunities for enjoyment just kept coming throughout the week.
I'm glad I chose Calshot for my Activities Week! While we were there, we tried a variety of new activities along with ones that some of us had already experience. There was a kayaking, windsurfing, snowboarding, climbing, a velodrome, archery and much more - even shooting.
My personal favourite was going around the velodrome. Most of us went round at the top of the which sees you cycling at a 45° angle - it feels intense, and is great fun.
The visit to Morocco was a five day trek across the Atlas Mountains, with a stop along the way for some time in the city of Marrakech. It was without doubt the best trip I've had - the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm so pleased I chose it. The Moroccan culture was so different to our culture and gave us a real insight into the world around us.
The trekking was not as hard as I thought it would be and it was a great chance to get to know a new group of boys. We unfortunately didn't make it to the top of Mount Toubkal, our final goal, due to the weather - but we still achieved so much and had a great day in the snow learning how to use an ice pick and do South African abseiling.
Marrakech was a great contrast to the isolation of the mountains; noisy, busy and intriguing. I will never forget the snake charmers and the back-flipping monkeys.
Our small party - just 15 students and two teachers - arrived at Plas y Brenin along with the rain; a torrential downpour that had us feeling a little dispirited. However, morale quickly improved as we start a brilliant high ropes course. After a terrific and somewhat slippery few hours, everyone was feeling much more enthused about the visit.
Due to unfortunate and unpredictable Welsh weather, we were unable to go sea-level traversing on Tuesday, but the instructors were ready for anything and managed to save the day by taking us gorge-walking – which was fantastic, exceeding our expectations. Wednesday was rock climbing, and this was a big day for us because Plas y Brenin is famous for its brilliant traverse rock. For me, the climbing was the highlight of the trip, and it stood out from anything I’d ever done before.
The final blissful day saw us kayaking, and doing everything from kayak water polo to deliberate capsizes. The week went too quickly. All in all, Plas y Brenin was an amazing week of adventure, and it’s certainly not something we’ll forget any time soon.
I chose to walk the Ridgeway for Activities Week as I thought it would be a good warm-up to my Duke of Edinburgh walk in October.
Throughout out the week we faced many challenges, both physical and mental as we hiked the route. The actual walking was one of the hardest parts and over the course of the week many people were feeling increasingly drained. The mental challenges - a variety of puzzles, presented to us throughout the week - gave us a break, although they weren't easy to complete either! My favourite challenge had to be facing up to the teacher water pistol ambushes, as they required teamwork, patience but also quick thinking to successfully overcome. They really pushed the teams, but were a great laugh between the students and the teachers, who were all afterwards drenched to the skin!
Once we made it to Ivinghoe Beacon (the end of the Ridgeway) we were all relieved and extremely tired from the hard days leading up to this great moment. The weather was on our side and allowed us to have an amazing view looking out across the countryside, and reflect on the adventure we'd had.
The visit to Ullswater in the Lake District gave us an array of brilliant activities to participate in, while enjoying stunning views of the hills and lakes.
My personal favourite activity, by far, was the gorge walking. Here we climbed up a series of waterfalls, some with ropes and some freehand. Gradually the waterfalls became larger and larger until we reached the final climax of a huge 18 metre waterfall - it was amazing! By the time we got to the top, we were all drenched but were in unanimous agreement that it was worth it.
Another highlight was our 36 hour expedition. We all trekked up a mountain in teams of 10 with 15-23 kilos on our backs. By the time we got to the top we were shattered. Nevertheless, we carried on in good spirits and all managed to pitch our tents up and cook dinner before bed. Many of us also went on a second walk after dinner, enjoying the incredible sunset above the hills.
The Black Country Living Museum visit on Thursday was informative and fun. The museum is all about the industrial revolution and even had real, preserved buildings from the era. We had an experience showing us what the mining conditions were like and looked at the only remaining functional steam pump in the world. The day was filled with interesting facts, making for a fantastic visit.
Friday saw Year 8 engaged in work shadowing. We went out to offices, shops and many other places - I spent the day observing an architecture company in Mayfair. However, some people could not arrange anything, so the school set up a fantastic day at a magistrates's court. They acted out their own court case and interviewed the people who work there. Whether you went to the magistrates' or somewhere else, work shadowing was a great way to learn about the real world.
Following our exams, Year 7 embarked upon three outstanding visits. At Whipsnade Zoo we saw many amazing animals, from red pandas to elephants. We were also given a science challenge by Mr Buckridge to redesign an enclosure for one of the animals.
At Bletchley Park we saw Alan Turing's office and the bunkers where the codebreakers worked. We went around the museum, learning a great deal about how the enigma was cracked, and also had a tour of the radio station.
Frogmore paper mill is run by a charity called The Paper Trail and is the oldest paper mill in the world! At Frogmore we took part in many activities. We learnt about canals and locks, learnt about the printing press and fonts, had a tour of the mill and even made our own sheets of paper. Finally before returning to DCGS we had a paper boat race.