Good evening and welcome to the St. Joseph’s School Journey blog, or from now on, the SJSJb!
The children began the day in fine form, enjoying several team building activities with their adults, all designed to warm up their communication and team building skills. It was great to see the children working so well together so early, a theme that will be picked up later on in the blog. (It should be noted however that in one group doing the ‘shrinking desert island’ activity, where the children stand on a constantly decreasing space as the ‘tide’ comes in, it was suggested that as opposed to working on a more humane solution, someone should simply be sacrificed to the sharks. Worrying. ed)
Moving swiftly on ALL 44 intrepid explorers then retired to the school dining hall where they had a slap up brunch before enjoying break time with the rest of the children. Before we knew it we were gathering in the main hall for Mr Macauley to send us on our way, leading us in our daily prayer and suggesting some top tips for a good week!
Our coach journey was smooth and swift, the only apparent difficulty for the children was not mixing up the names of Messrs McInroy, Hoyes and Coffey- hopefully this will improve during the week. Reaching Portsmouth in good order, the children were greatly looking forward to their journey on the ferry to Fishguard (A request for an Oggy Oggy Oggy! Chant at this point was regretfully denied as a courtesy to our fellow travellers). The weather being excellent Mr McInroy showed his lightning pace and secured us a prime spot at the front of the sun deck where the children lunched as they enjoyed a smooth crossing.
The excitement was palpable as we pulled into the Little Canada site, with our excellent leader Adam on hand to guide us rapidly from the coach to our first activities- groups 1+2 lead by Mr Hoyes and Mr Coffey were to scale Jacobs ladder, while groups 3 + 4 lead by Mrs Kingman and Mr McInroy were to go the opposite direction and abseil- challenging activities to be sure, but in true St Joseph’s fashion they were met head on.
One of the highlights for the children abseiling was Laura’s determination to overcome her fear of the obstacle. She quite openly admitted she was scared, but with encouragement from her group and no small amount of courage she scaled the stairs, and began her descent down he wall, cheered on by her entire group (and beating Mr McInroy to the floor, incidentally). Laura said “I didn’t do it at first because II was scared but then I did and it was great!” Coleen also overcame her fear and did a great job to make it down- well done girls! It was noted by both groups that it was a tremendous boost to hear the encouragement from their peers, and we have no doubt this will be a big part of their week here on the Isle of Wight.
For many of the rope activities a great deal of equipment is needed (‘cool gear’ according to Danny, a ‘helpful harness’ suggested a particularly poetic Dezeret, who also explained that to do this activity you could either “help your friends or use them”. To explain, the ladder must be scaled as a team if all three children are to make it to the top successfully, so either you help your friends by lifting them up, or use them by pulling yourself up on their rope to make it to the next level) so once kitted up, the children were raring to go. Tolu noted how so many groups were helping each other, and Lottie found it “Thrilling and fun!”
The children going in threes, the pressure was mounting on the final group- Mr Coffey, Mr Hoyes and… Lacey. Thankfully, Lacey carried her mildly reluctant partners, dragging them up rung by rung (at times, literally) in a herculean effort, inspiring them to become the only complete group to reach the top, though Yewande and Joshua also made the summit individually. Our group leader Adam told us that in his three years at Little Canada he had never seen so many groups helping each other as opposed to focusing on individual efforts, a great precedent to set for the many challenges to come this week.
The children enjoyed their first dinner at Little Canada, have been playing capture the flag games and entering their cabins for the first time with a stoic calmness (not even slightly calm in reality). Tomorrow holds Archery, Zip Wire, Trapeze and many more varied activities and adventures, and with the children winding down in their cabins for the evening, the blog will sign off here too.
Wishing you all a good evening from everyone here,
SJSJb, Little Canada, Isle of Wight.
*A suggestion to rename “Jacob’s ladder” “Joseph’s Ladder” following the school’s stunning performance on this equipment is currently being mulled by the PGL management- watch this space.