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Pen-y-fan Camp Week

In July 2013, three young explorers and their staff team took to the mountains of Brecon Beacons and went back to basics. The camp was located at the base of Pen-y-fan, the highest peak in South Wales. With only sheep and horses for neighbours, we were in the wilderness, without hot water or electricity. The children learnt to fend for themselves, collecting their own wood, chopping it and making their own camp fires. They even built their own shelter to sleep in; however the cold nights and giant slugs soon sent them back to the safety of their back-up tents.

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Without hot running water, alternative showering arrangements had to be made. Kaya and Kieran utilised the river at the bottom of the camp and created a dam to bathe in and used an old washing up bowl as an outdoor shower. Jack had a trip to the outdoor salon, where the camp's lead hairdresser, Mr Coleman, helped him 'wash n go' in the nearby waterfalls and Kaya even took straight to the lakes, head first for a good old soak. Thankfully we were blessed with great weather so the cold water was actually quite refreshing!

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The team were well fed throughout the week and all the food was cooked on gas stoves by candle light, at restaurant quality. Through the week the team dined on fajitas, Singapore noodles, spaghetti meat balls and of course, a range of cooked breakfasts every morning. Kaya was a fantastic help in the kitchen and even came up with an ingenious way to make toast!

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On alternate days through the camp, each child had the opportunity to drive out into the wilderness and fish for the day at Llandyfan.

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"On arriving at the fishing site, we were pleased with what met us, beautiful countryside, bright blue skies and a well stocked fishing lake. The first thing we did was set up camp for the week where Kaya did most of the hard work carrying all the equipment from the car to the lake. Bob the owner popped down to see us, giving us lots of advice and tips with his friendly laugh and smile. We eventually got the rods in and almost immediately Kaya was into the first fish of about 5lbs, Kaya was ecstatic and carried on fishing through the night. Mrs Saunders was a brilliant cook and supported the boys all the way through the week. We changed over the pupil every day with Mrs Saunders being the driver. All the boys enjoyed the experience and wanted to stay longer. Bob was a great host and we hope to see him again next year". Head Fisherman – Mr Bale

Throughout the week the group were presented with different challenges to explore the area that would test their resilience and resourcefulness. First the group took to the river and learnt to work as a team, navigating downstream, taking in the amazing scenery. Despite a few beached canoes and a backwards handbrake turn down the rapids, all the team made it to the end through hard work and sheer determination.

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The boys then took to the skies, scaling up to the tree canopy, tackling a series of high ropes, and facing their fears of heights. Kieran showed great courage and scaled the highest ropes, showing good balance and agility. Kaya also faced the zip wire, learning the skills to manage his harness and support others in their landing.

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On a particularly hot day, Kaya took to the hills on foot and made a great attempt at Pen-y-Fan, but the extreme heat of the day made the challenge particularly arduous, and we were unable to make the summit. Yet Kaya was not the only one to struggle with the conditions, Kieran also discovered that he was not a mountain goat, and twisted his ankle while out exploring. Thanks to the brute strength and ingenuity of the staff, Kieran was carried back to safety to rest.

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Despite Wales being renowned for its awful weather, the hot, sunny days on camp, actually sent us out into the valleys in order to get wet! Mr Jeffcott and Mr Bale were able to navigate the group through a series of waterfalls and pools, with their white water lifeguarding skills. The team enjoyed the breath-taking scenery, though the challenge of the terrain proved difficult for some. To relax, the boys enjoyed using the rapids as water slides and even plucked up the courage to walk underneath a giant waterfall in order to hold the school flag!

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After all the hard work in the day, the team made time to relax and play games in the spacious camp before heading to bed. Most nights, our skill and co-ordination were tested in various ball games, including cricket, and also the classic hide and seek tag, which tried the patience and agility of us all. On the final night, we devised challenges to put the team's resilience to test. Through these games we learnt that Mr Coleman is able to make a record breaking attempt at eating three cream crackers in under a minute, Miss Saunders and Kieran both have enormous mouths, battling it to the end, squeezing marshmallows in, and Kieran is stronger than he looks in tug of war.

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Phew...... after an exhausting week in the wild, the team left smiling (and dirty) back to reality looking forward to a hot shower and a comfy bed.

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Well Done Team, You Made it!

Oakdene Forest Park

Mr Wilson, Thompson, Jessie and Kyeran carried out a recce before their summer camp in July at Oakdene Forest Park.  The boys enjoyed the journey down and were keen to get there to see where they would be staying.  On arrival the staff were helpful and let us have the keys to see in our caravans.  The boys were very pleased with what they saw and wanted to stay.  We spent time at the park and looked round the site visiting the swimming pool, clubhouse and arcades.  The boys left happy and content and will tell the others on the camp about their trip and what they have to look forward to in July.

Thanks to Oakdene Forest Park staff for a friendly welcome and assistance.

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