One hundred and twenty students from Sarah Bonnell School in Stratford had just travelled eight plus hours on a coach from London to spend the weekend in Cumbria. They were welcomed with gale force winds and torrential rain. After dinner, it was time for the traditional ‘Jog & Dip’ to the Lake. It was an induction long-standing at Outward Bound Trust Ullswater more appealing in the summer months, no doubt, but obligatory nonetheless and tonight’s apocalyptic conditions did not stop tradition.
With audible protests at the prospect of night swimming, the power of group motivation won over. One by one, arm in arm, with words of encouragement in they went. Excited, shouting, shivering. Many returned for a second dip.
A strong relationship between The North Face, Outward Bound Trust and Sarah Bonnell was built over the course of the summer in the lead up to the full adventure weekend in Cumbria. Early introductions were made at the school in June through an outdoor-focused activity day, the soon-to-be year seven students assembling tents and reflecting on their thoughts and feelings about nature and the outdoors.
The Lake District weekend was opt in and although this was the first time many students would be experiencing a truly wild environment, there was anticipation and excitement for the unknown. The ‘Jog & Dip’ framed what was to be a weekend of wild all-weather adventure for this enthusiastic group of girls from east London.
Constructing the student itinerary around clear learning outcomes was a major focus for OBT and a tailored approach to individual and group needs was apparent. Whether ‘challenge by choice’, communication for effective leadership or working as a team, there was an accompanying activity: raft building, hiking, canoeing, tunneling, outdoor cooking. Whatever the weather, all safety considerations met, anything was possible. Real-world connection was encouraged and all phones were off.
Recognising the value in adult role models, Never Stop London had an important part to play in the trip as five ladies from the London community were chosen to act as mentors to the students, fully participating in all activities and experiences to offer their support.