Day 3 – Wednesday
The alarm sheep was set for a bit later after yesterday’s exertions but the children all emerged after a good night’s sleep ready for the day’s challenges.
Today was a water day for all of the groups who headed down to the wharf to make preparations after another fine cooked breakfast. At the wharf the groups were kitted out with wetsuits and buoyancy aids before they headed further down the estuary by minibus. The first challenge of the day was to carry the canoes for a hundred metres to the slipway which certainly provided a good warm up. The main challenge then began: a 5km paddle back to the wharf. Three groups used canoes which were bound together in groups of 4 to form a diamond shape whilst Mears group had the chance to use one man sit-on kayaks. It was an excellent day for the journey as the wind was calm and the tide and currents were mainly in our favour. The Howe Green Armada paddled with great gusto and the occasional song about a camel with a gradually reducing amount of humps and they were soon in the swing of things. However, it was not long before today’s extra challenge became apparent – the tide was going out quickly and sand banks began to appear in our path. Having started off in third place, Churchill group navigated their way into pole position as the gap to steer the canoes through narrowed. Precision steering was required as the groups narrowly squeezed through in time. Lunch was taken in another unusual location – a sandbank in the middle of the estuary!
All groups successfully made it back to the wharf where a final challenge awaited. Mears groups undertook an endurance challenge as they swam back around the wharf towing a kayak but the remaining groups faced a different prospect. An outward bound powerboat arrived to take groups off shore where the children had to jump overboard and swim to shore (don’t worry, they all still had buoyancy aids on). This proved daunting for a few but every child quite literally took the plunge. After a hard day’s paddling a trip to the ice cream parlour was a must and any signs of fatigue soon disappeared as the effects of a large scoop of ‘fudgy wudgy’ kicked in.
Tonight’s meal choices included fish and chips, chicken tikka and naan and spaghetti Bolognese with a rather nice syrup sponge on offer for dessert. The evening’s activities provided challenge and entertainment in the form of a rather slippery gorge walk, the leap of faith (complete with the amazing flying Mr. Simpkins) and ‘The Gorge’. Churchill tackled the Gorge which is a challenge with 10 levels of difficulty. This particular challenge involves walking (stage 1) across a rather smelly pond via a plank. By stage 10, the children have to try to travel under the plank without falling in – we are very grateful for the fine shower facilities and drying rooms.
The trip is going very well so far. The children have continued to demonstrate some excellent and much needed qualities in the face of new challenges along with the high standards of behaviour that we have come to expect. There really have been no real homesickness concerns and the rooms have been kept remarkably clean and well organised (no group has scored less than half marks so far for their daily room inspections – if any parents would like a room inspection scoring sheet for home, I will happily pass one on).
Tomorrow will be a chance to spend some time in the beautiful countryside which surrounds us as we all head off on a day hike.