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21st February 2018

Outward Bound Trip

On the 5th of February 12 excited year 9 boys, accompanied by Miss McNeela and Miss Key, travelled to Howtown Outward Bound for a week of adventurous challenges which would push their teamwork, leadership and resilience to the limits.

Within minutes of arriving the boys were told to get changed into old clothes then began the famous ‘jog and dip’. This involved running to the lake through, what were at this time of the year, ice cold streams and then jumping off a jetty into Ullswater (the temperature was 4 degrees!). After this shock to the system the boys got to know each other and their instructor better through a series of team building activities which required them to make mistakes and then reflect on them, communicate effectively and work together as a team- all skills which would be essential over the coming week.

The next morning we were awoken to a winter wonderland- this would have been great if we were skiing, however, today’s programme involved water sports! Students carefully listened how to build a raft before working together in freezing temperatures to construct it- this involved learning a number of different types of knots. Once confident that the raft was well built it was put to the test and paddled out to a boat in the middle of the lake carrying 12 hardy sailors-it passed the test remaining strong and sturdy.

The afternoon did not provide the students with any respite from the cold weather however, after layering up with wetsuits, fleeces and waterproofs all were motivated to tackle the gorge. This was a highlight for many students and showed what can be achieved when you work together-the quote of the day was “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Inspired by the enthusiasm and motivation of the boys our instructor selected a challenging expedition for the final 2 days. This involved getting a powerboat to collect canoes, canoeing for a couple of hours down the lake and then disembarking and travel on foot with expedition packs to a refuge high in the mountains where they would spend the night.

For this the boys had to develop strategies to break down the large challenge to ensure that it was achievable by all (we reflected afterwards that these same strategies could be used for challenges back at home like revision or homework). The journey by canoe was stunning but paddling into the wind was a challenge and required everyone to dig deep and persevere even when they wanted to stop (stopping would mean we would drift backwards). Once on the walk the boys broke the journey down into small legs and offered encouragement and words of advice to anyone that was struggling. Despite many thinking they would not be able to reach the refuge they made it just before nightfall. However, there was no time to rest with beds having to be made, fires lit and tea had to be cooked. Despite the extreme challenge of the long journey and a cold night’s sleep at the end of the week, many said it was this experience that made them most proud of themselves. We hope that the boys remember that it is often the biggest challenges which may seem impossible to face that make for the most memorable moments and our proudest achievements

On our final day we took the opportunity to climb the mountain that we had been staring at all week next to the centre. Again, by breaking the challenge down into small chunks all students got to the top and were rewarded with spectacular views and their certificates. It was then that our instructor read us the poem below and left us to contemplate the challenges that we had faced that week, the strategies that we had used to overcome them and think about how we could use these in our everyday live to ensure that we all fulfil our potential.

My Comfort Zone

I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn’t fail.

The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail.

I longed so much to do the things I’d never done before,

But stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor.

I said it didn’t matter that I wasn’t doing much.

I said I didn’t care for things like commission checks and such.

I claimed to be so busy with the things inside the zone,

But deep inside I longed for something special of my own.

I couldn’t let my life go by just watching others win.

I held my breath; I stepped outside and let the change begin.

I took a step and with new strength I’d never felt before,

I kissed my comfort zone goodbye and closed and locked the door.

If you’re in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out,

Remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.

A step or two and words of praise can make your dreams come true.

Reach for your future with a smile; success is there for you!

–author unknown