On Thursday 3 October, Year 12 students departed Leweston for a unique and exciting residential in the Quantock Hills. Run by Outposts, an experienced centre for outdoor education, the two-day programme would test and develop our students’ determination, communication, problem-solving and leadership. Mr Ryan-East, Head of Sixth Form, writes about the two-day experience.
After being greeted by Michael the owner (and his three friendly dogs) and being shown to our accommodation for the night, we met Tim who was to be our course leader, ably assisted by Stuart and Matthew. With backgrounds in the military or teaching (or both!), our inspirational instructors each took a group and showed them to their first challenges of the day.
Whether crossing water using only crates and planks, navigating an (imaginary) minefield or lava plain, or completing the most fiendishly difficult wooden puzzle ever conceived in under fifteen minutes, Leweston’s Lower Sixth were put through their paces, and certainly rose to the challenge! Following an initial focus on teamwork and collaborative problem solving, Tim and the Outposts team shifted attention to effective leadership and communication as the activities became more challenging.
By the second day, the element of competition was also introduced, providing teams with that extra motivation to avoid touching the lasers (actually ropes) while transporting balls across a field using two broomsticks; to get the bucket of water across the 30-foot canyon using only rope, a hammer and some wooden poles without spilling any; or making it as far across the fast-flowing river rapids (again, imagined) as possible using only crates without losing any equipment, or teammates for that matter!
Between these physically demanding and mentally taxing activities there was also time designated for team building and leadership workshops to allow the groups to apply what they had learned, putting it into the context of their own Sixth Form experience. With delicious hot and cold food and drinks, and even marshmallows toasted round the fire in Bush Camp in the evening, we were spoilt by the Outposts catering staff during our stay (whilst the students were quite rightly responsible for washing and sweeping up after mealtimes).
The two-days’ activities culminated in the frenetic and fast-paced ‘Gun Run’ which saw teams race to disassemble and reassemble scaled down replica artillery guns while moving the canons up and down the top field (affectionately known to Outposts as ‘Wembley’). Cries of frustration, shrieks of laughter and shouts of joy rang around the Quantock Hills as the teams finished their final challenge with smiles on their faces and a round of applause for the winners.
I’ve never experienced anything quite like Outposts before. The positive change in the students – as individuals and as a year group – from when they got off the minibuses at the start of the residential to when they received their final debrief from Tim at the end of the course, was genuinely profound. I am sure that this experience will stay with each student for a very long time.
I’d like to thank Mrs Dawson for accompanying us on the trip, our minibus drivers who ferried us out and back, and of course, Outposts themselves – we will be coming back next year!
Mr Matthew Ryan-East, Head of Sixth Form