An early start to Tuesday morning could only mean one thing for our Y6 pupils: it was finally time to head to a residential after many years of waiting! Bushcraft, Boughton Woods was the destination for the remainder of the week. The coaches were abuzz with excitement as the children discussed what would be in store for them over the next few days.
As we arrived at the site, the excitement grew as the children found out about their tribes and their tents. Tribes are the groups the children spend the day activities in, and their tent buddies are the ones the children chose together before they left. Dylan and Ed, the camp leaders welcomed Blue Coat and introduced the tribe leaders. Then it was off deep into the forest to find camp and explore their new surroundings.
The tribes were able to hang out under their camp yurt, and after a safety briefing they went off to gather a sufficient supply of sticks to prepare a fire to cook lunch on – burgers, fried potatoes and mixed vegetables. The tribes made flags and invented an original name for their group before getting to grips with their tents and laying out their bedding for the evening.
Day 2 began at around 4.30am for some of our pupils as the first signs of light began creeping into the tents and the birds began to sing. When the sound of the gong signalled time for breakfast, everyone speedily left their tents and enjoyed a hearty full English before the busy day began.
Over the course of the next few days, Bushcraft first aid skills were taught and practised which was extremely helpful as the children stumbled along a light aircraft that had crashed into the middle of the field. Surprisingly, the aircraft had been carrying a number of Blue Coat teachers so it was vital that the children worked quickly and as a team to ensure their patients were successfully treated. Following this, the children delved further into the woods to practise their hand-eye coordination during two activities: archery and tomahawk throwing.
Dinner on day 2 consisted of panassed salmon. Pannassing is a traditional way of cooking salmon over an open fire perfected by the native tribes of the North American plains. The salmon is de-boned, butterflied and cooked gently to produce the most wonderful flavour. A few brave souls volunteered for the legendary Blue Coat Bushtucker trial and ate (or attempted to eat) a salmon eye! Crunchy and juicy were a few adjectives to describe the taste sensation.
As we made our way into the final evening, preparations for Tribe’s Got Talent were well underway. Some tribes chose to sing or dance, whilst others demonstrated their gymnastic or makeup skills with clay mud from the nearby woods. There was much laughter, cheering and enjoyment from all involved.
The trip home was much quieter as many children took the opportunity to catch a few winks before being greeted by many excited parents and enjoying home comforts over the weekend.
After years of waiting and anticipation for the next trip, Bushcraft was certainly an experience into the wilderness away from electronics, televisions and traditional school work. Each child gained many life skills, perseverance and resilience over the course of the four days, particularly learning how to brave the outdoors in a range of weather situations.