Last night we heard a scream from F10, "Where is my dog?!!!" The adults went running down the corridor to see what on earth was the matter (and Miss Radford just wanted to stroke the dog). Upon arrival at the room, Sofia was frantically looking for Brownie (her toy dog) and was very upset he was lost. The good news is Brownie had not gone for walkies - he was right next to Sofia all along. After this escapade, we walked passed S2 and heard poor Ryan still crying his heart out as he'd lost the pool tournament to Mrs Healy. Oh well, Ryan.
The waking up routine this morning required a bit more teacher input. We needed to tap a bit harder on the door before signs of life were displayed. There were, however, plenty of signs of life strewn across the floors. None of it was human…or even earthly for that matter. Alien lifeforms are a fairly typical Thursday morning scene. In some of the rooms, there was just one small patch of carpet that was free of debris...and even that contained a dirty sock.
Today was the joys of Tapnell Farm! The good news is the children thoroughly enjoyed racing on the go-karts. The bad news, many of the children desperately need to learn how to safely drive! Also on the itinerary was the petting zoo, bouncy pillows, trampolines, penalty shoot out, rock climbing, slides, play parks and more!
At 11.30am we headed off to the aqua park (just next door to the farm). "Are we getting on the coach to go to the aqua park?"
"Umm, it's literally right there. A 5 minute walk at most"
"Meh, can't we just get on the coach? Surely you want to get your money's worth from the driver?"
(a valid point and, in truth, made me consider the option), but no, we walked down to the centre.
A highlight of today was definitely the Aqua Park. Taking 26 children to this activity has filled the adults with dread for weeks with many a sleepless night. However, after today, it was totally worth it. The children had 70 minutes of non-stop fun. After one adult, who shall remain nameless, pushed a child into the water, this commenced 'the battle'. It was then incredibly difficult for any adult to survive on dry land for more than 30 seconds before being pushed in. Mr Mills lasted the longest however Noah's rugby tackle soon sent him flying through the air and into the lake.
The safety instructors ran through all the instructions in great detail…several times over.
“Here’s the wetsuit, it will be inside out so you need to turn it the right way around. The zip goes at the back. You put your legs in first, into the legs of the wetsuit, not in the arms. Make sure your knee pads are on your knees, not on your shins. This is the buoyancy aid, the zip goes at the front. Stand on the concrete, not the grass once your wetsuit is on.”
The biggest challenge today was getting 26 children into wetsuits. Oh my goodness, it took four adults 25 minutes to get them in and zipped up – the hardest workout of the week by far. Mrs Healy was complaining at the reception desk that her wetsuit was wet – the people responded with eye rolls which is of course justified. The young member of staff pointed out that a wetsuit was designed to be wet and would of course be wet in a few minutes time. Mrs Healy, not taking no for an answer, continued to complain which resulted in the adults being told we didn’t have to wear the wetsuits – WIN! Finally, for once, Mrs Healy’s excessive moaning has paid off!
Bearing in mind that some of the boys have struggled this week to comprehend the need to keep socks and shoes in pairs, I wasn’t overly optimistic of a successful operation. Instructions complete, the children disappeared into the changing rooms. Fairly swiftly, a sweet aroma drifting on the wind told me the Lynx Boys Deodorant Brigade were already back outside. One or two children came out with their wetsuit half on…zip at the front. Two children didn’t seem so bad. Soon though, there were children everywhere, hopping on one leg whilst straining, grunting, groaning, huffing and puffing to get their wetsuits on. One child even managed to put their head through the arm sleeve! “I thought it was a bit skinny” he said.
Without going off on a mini rant here – why is it that we can teach children the definition of a rhombus (Alex’s favourite shape) three times a year, every year from Year 2 to Year 6, yet very few remember it. However, the children are able to recite all 743 safety rules for today’s activities.
Finally, we’d made it into the lake. Most jumped in, with the exception of Alfie-Jack who took the opportunity to walk like Daniel Craig from 007: he strutted across the platform, down the steps so as not to get his hair wet. It turns out children are heavy when wearing wet suits and, rather ironically, buoyancy aids make them even heavier! Unfortunately, this meant the following hour or so was the equivalent of a weights session at the gym. Mr Fifield was delighted and used every opportunity to regain some lost gym time. He’s gone overboard now though as he’s asked for us all to go on a bike ride tonight so he can tick off ‘leg day’ too.
As we reflect on the week, there have been many highlights, many hilarious moments and a lot of hard work. Mrs Healy, Miss Radford and Mr Fifield have led the trip in their usual calm, efficient and inspirational style. We are truly blessed to have them all in our team and they have guaranteed that your children have been safe and happy all week. The children will certainly have special memories that will last a lifetime. If they struggle to remember in future years, Miss Radford and Mrs Healy have currently taken 1,158 photos. Mr Fifield has got all his wires crossed with the steps for the week's total and apparently has taken 72, 657 photos on the I-pad and walked around 213 steps. It’s been a long week. Operating on around 3-4 hours sleep per night can do that to you. If all that fails, there is always my inane ramblings to try to make sense of. If you don’t have crossed wires when you start, you’re almost certain to have them by the end.
Before they went to bed, we spoke to all the children about living in the moment and always being grateful for the blessings bestowed upon us. Not all children have the opportunity to experience something like this trip and not all children have parents who are so willing to make the experience a reality. Thank you for supporting us in making Isle of Wight 2023 work. It is our hope that the children show their gratitude to you when they return home.
A key component to a Year 6 residential is allowing them the time to understand more clearly who they are and how to interact with others to ensure they are happy, safe and making the world a better place by their mere presence. All week we have reminded them about being selfless rather than selfish, about being respectful rather than dismissive, about being understanding rather than entitled and to take notice of what is happening around them. We have seen them grow in self-assurance, gain independence and overcome personal obstacles. It’s been a good week.
And so, as we meander towards the end of the journey on the island, it is almost time to wrap up the story for today from the 5-star lodge. When I say lodge, I would hope many of you have realised that 74% of the blog this week has been accurate with 26% slightly embellished. It is with much disappointment, I must confess the lodge was not to be.
Until tomorrow, good night!