This year’s Rural Skills Residential Trip went ahead at the PGL Centre at Caythorpe in Lincolnshire again after previous successful visits. The week-long excursion proved to be a very resounding success once again, due to the enthusiastic staff, their support for the students’ needs and some glorious weather.
The group settled into their accommodation before being shown around the fantastic grounds of Caythorpe Court. A hearty meal was then followed by some fun and games to get the students prepared for what was to come their way over the next 4 days.
Starting the proceedings for group 1 was abseiling. All of them went to the top of the tower and only 2 decided, quite quickly it has to be said, that height wasn't their thing. The group were fantastic in supporting each other with both verbal and physical support.
Group 2, on the other hand, were enjoying the delights of the giant swing, a long standing favourite of the students over the years. Again they didn't disappoint as their screams could be heard for miles as they released their own cord that sent them swinging backwards and forwards, almost hitting the tops of the trees.
The afternoon sessions were greeted with sun appearing from the clouds, making the whole place light up. First up was archery where the students’ feet were firmly rooted to the floor, much to the relief of some. Those that appeared to struggle with the heights of the previous activities found their feet and hands as they propelled their arrows towards the bulls’ eye. The afternoon was completed with All Aboard, another height activity depending on how high you wanted to go. Once again both groups gave it a go and from each group, individuals found themselves standing on top of a telegraph pole 50 feet in the air. Of course there wasn't any escape for the staff who were, shall we say, “encouraged” to have a go, neither one letting the team down as they too stood proud at the top of the pole enjoying the applause of their joyful students.
Wednesday began with the groups doing Zip Wire and High Ropes. Both groups were refreshed and raring to go as they tackled more of their fear of heights and trusting their new found friend... a harness. The students put their trust in the hands of the instructors as they supported, encouraged and cajoled each one of them to at least have a go. Students left the safe ground of the stand to fly 200 feet down the zip wire, screaming with delight. The high ropes did cause a few more issues as they found themselves surrounded by tree tops, which wasn’t an everyday sight. Despite this, the majority of them succeeded in negotiating themselves around the course with a huge sense of achievement. The sun again appeared for the afternoon activities which included the Climbing Wall and the Challenge Course. Both began on the floor which was a relief for many. Once again, the students made us very proud as they all gave both activities a go, with a large proportion getting to the top of the wall and ringing the bell. Not to be outdone, the staff had to show that they weren't quite ‘past it’ by also ringing the bell at the top.
Thursday’s morning activities included Fencing and Jacob’s Ladder. The fencing gave the students the opportunity to learn a new sport and the security of having their feet on the floor. Once they were shown all the health and safety measures they quickly got into the spirit of fencing. A few low blows later and one or two decided this was more physical than they had anticipated. It was great to observe both groups getting into the spirit of something they hadn't done before. Jacob’s Ladder, on the other hand, proved more difficult for some as it involved climbing up telegraph poles positioned horizontally. A lot of pure strength and team work was needed to ensure they got off the ground. Less than half managed to get to the top but everyone was made to feel proud of their efforts by the leaders’ ongoing support and encouragement.
Trapeze was the first activity to challenge the students on Friday. Climbing the pole at a similar height to All Aboard they found themselves hugging it for dear life as the wind was getting up, making it sway in the wind. Only a handful of the students managed to get to the top, stand and then take on the leap of faith catching the trapeze in mid-air. Aeroball completed the week’s activities, a trampoline in a net where the students had to throw a ball to their opponents’ net to try to score a goal.
In conclusion, I have to applaud the students in their endeavour to give everything a go, which was discussed in great length before the trip. They were a credit to the college and their families. I heard on numerous occasions the PGL instructors talking to their colleagues about what a joy the students had been. They made us, as a staff group, feel very proud and positive in taking another group back next year to do it all again!