Last week Year 4 took part in their first two night residential at Nell Bank near Ilkley. The children were very excited about spending time together and experiencing the activities that they would take part in. The journey over was very quick and no sooner had we left school, we arrived at the centre.
After eating our lunch, we went into the nearby woods to look at the local environment followed by pond dipping. This was a favourite activity of the children as they netted snails, water skates and newts – male and female.
Following on from that, a mini beast hunt ensued and the children were engrossed in turning over rocks and rotting wood, discovering a different world underneath.
After dinner, the adventure playground took a beating before returning to dorms and bed. Sleep. What sleep?
In the morning, the group ate a hearty breakfast prepared by the Country Kitchen, gathered a packed lunch, and set off on the longest 6 mile walk that I have ever experienced. The children were led over Ilkley Moor towards the Cow and the Calf before heading back to the centre. During the walk, there was an opportunity for them to hunt for treasure while geocaching- a brilliant way to get children out in the countryside with some purpose.
In the evening, after another filling meal, we were all entertained during a talent show with jokes, singing, acting, naming flags and dancing.
After a good night’s sleep, we were up for breakfast, packed and outside for den building and walking a nature trail before lunch at one of the local parks, before heading back to school.
For some of our children, this was the first time that they had spent two nights away from family and this can be a daunting time for them. However, everyone settled quickly and home was soon forgotten. For me, this demonstrates the power of children and being among friends; they feel more confident and are encouraged by their peers to experience new opportunities. As teachers, we enjoy being away with your children because we see many of them grow in confidence from simply looking after themselves and being organised, to holding creepy crawlies that would otherwise worry them; watching faces full of awe when they net their first newt is a wonderful thing to see.
We are lucky at our school having a large open space for children to play in and be part of. Sometimes we forget the power of being outside, the freedom and the knowledge that is all around us. Not once did I hear any child say that they missed a phone, xBox or other gadget as they were fully immersed in the space around them, from listening to the birds to scrambling over rocks. Being outside is surely the best form of entertainment that children can have.