Awesome experiences in Austria

This year’s activities week featured a trip to Zell am See in the Austrian mountains, for 44 Year 9 students. All of the activities were based in this picturesque area, resplendent as we arrived early on the Saturday morning, following a much dreaded 20 hour coach journey.

We dived (literally) into a range of activities over the next six days - both on land and water. One-of-a-kind activities, white water rafting and canyoning proved strong favourites, while windsurfing and kayaking proved to be difficult skills to master - the hiking, high ropes and mountain biking were very physically demanding in the hot weather and hilly landscapes. The activities didn’t end there - our accommodation provided many sports facilities, and every evening we were having tense football, volleyball, and basketball tournaments. We also enjoyed a short visit to Salzburg, the nearest major city.

Students and staff alike agreed that the trip was extremely good fun and a great way to end KS3 before moving onto the GCSE courses.

Unique scenery greeted us in Ullswater

As a fantastic end to Year 9, a group of students went on an expedition to the lakes and mountains of Ullswater. This was a trip which we all felt involved in, pushed to our limits as we climbed a variety of mountain paths, camping out overnight in a tent, and making new friends.

Raft building
Climbing high

The trip began with a few lessons on safety and other starter activities - tasks such as getting all of us over a wall without any ropes or ladders. This was both physically and mentally challenging as we had to plan our approach to the wall, then what we would do next.

Throughout the exercises, we had to overcome many obstacles, barriers and large mountains. Our coordination and teamwork as a group were essential in order for us to overcome these challenges, as we learned the importance of listening to each other and making a plan using these different ideas. Whilst climbing up the first stretch of the mountain with the very heavy back packs, our confidence wavered, but our perseverance was rewarded with an amazing view from the top of Helvellyn.

Nothing could ever be as beautiful as when we woke to the sight of being above the clouds. It was so satisfying and rewarding to know we had walked so far, and climbed so high. It was a memory that I’m sure will stay with all of us for a while.

On behalf of all the students who went to Ullswater, I'd like to extend thanks to the teachers who came with us, and those back at Challoner’s who helped organise the trip.

Majestic Morocco enriches through cultural and environmental beauty

Morocco was an amazing trip of stark contrasts. Entering the country, we got to see the busy city life of Marrakech, followed by, a few hours in, the sparseness of the rural areas and the mountains, where we would be for the first days of our trip.

Encouragement was key in the three days of trekking to keep everyone going through the mountains, as we passed remote villages in the valleys and cols. We were able to marvel at the view from 3,300m above sea level - a truly awesome experience.

The other side of the trip was all about experiencing a bit of city life. We thought this might be more like home, but it was also a new experience for all of us. We were able to barter in the souks of the beautiful coastal city of Essaouira, and experienced camping on the seaside.

None of us thought that it could possibly get more hectic than Essaouira, but our tour of Marrakech ultimately proved us wrong.

This year’s Morocco visit was an enriching and new experience for everyone involved - from the food to the views, as well as the stark contrast in lifestyles: I think it's fair to say we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

Competing in Calshot

One trip really stood out from the rest for me, during the introductory evening for the Activities Week programme - and that trip was the one to Calshot, Southampton.

Located on a sand spit just off Southampton, Calshot Activity Centre is home to the huge variety of activities which our group of Year 9 students took part in. We had a great time developing our climbing skills which we had begun to do in PE lessons at school, and also enjoyed some new experiences - such as one of the great features of Calshot, their indoor dry ski slope. On this slope we had the chance to either learn how to snowboard or further our existing knowledge - which turned out to be extremely enjoyable.

Due to the location of Calshot, watersports played a fairly big part in what we did - giving us the chance to windsurf and kayak. The centre is also very famous due to the fact that it has one of the few indoor cycling tracks in England, giving everyone a chance to have a go at cycling at 45 degrees. The high ropes were also a very daunting prospect as they coupled extreme heights with a constant wind, meaning that when you were at the top of the seesaw, you were moving around uncontrollably!

In all, Calshot was a very enjoyable experience for all involved, and really furthered me as a person as it gave me the chance to try new things, while forming closer bonds with my friends.

Reaping the rewards on the Ridgeway Challenge

Throughout the week, a group of Year 9 boys were challenged both mentally and physically by the walking and the challenges along the Ridgeway Challenge. Whilst the walking was in itself very difficult, the challenges were just as hard, and as the week went on, we were beginning to feel increasingly drained! We diligently approached the challenges - expecting the unexpected most of the time: this ended up with us being ambushed by Mr Burn!

Personally, one of my favourite parts was the free-for-all water pistol fight in the valley, where we initially kept our distance from other teams (while keeping a vigilant eye out for the teachers) which then escalated into complete chaos - with friendly fire becoming common! This culminated in both teachers and students alike being drenched to the skin.

After a full day of walking and activities we were completely spent, and by the end of the week when we reached Ivinghoe Beacon, we were able to reflect on the week we had experienced, and all the challenges it had thrown up.

In all, it was a great, enjoyable trip, whether it was the walking, the water pistol challenges, or the puzzles. We were constantly being pushed and like everyone else, I was proud of what I had achieved.

Whisked away to Wales

This trip was not what I was expecting. It was even better. The weather was fantastic which helped, but it was ultimately the atmosphere was what made it what it was. As there was only sixteen boys on the trip we had perfectly sized teams for in the evenings, when we played manhunt or capture the flag. There was a real feeling of freedom throughout the week, which made the trip much more personal.

It was a weird feeling free-falling from a cliff, but it is an experience I will never forgot and a memory I will keep forever! Additionally, it felt different from any other long term trip I have been on with school because it almost felt like family. Students didn't feel as if they were students - they almost felt as if they were brothers and the teachers, the same thing, they didn't feel like dads so much, they felt like uncles: a bit like that one fun uncle that always takes you out to amazing places.

Plas y Brenin was an amazing trip that I have made a lot of memories with and I know the other boys would agree.

The view across the lake