Last week years 3 and 4 spent three days at Shortenills, an environmental centre near Amersham. There was much excitement on the coach, even though it rained much of the way there! On arrival, we met some of the Shortenills staff and they took us on a tour around the site so we could get our bearings. After lunch we set out on our first activity which was orienteering. By this time it was pouring with rain, but undeterred the children had a fantastic time using clues to find their way around the site, all without any adults to interfere! They were absolutely soaked but very happy and enjoyed a real sense of independence and achievement. Next came the challenge of bed-making – getting those duvet covers on the duvets was tricky but perseverance and team work was the key and again, the children came up trumps. In the evening, they had the opportunity to run and visit a pop-up shop selling various recycled products such as pencils made from denim jeans and old money. There was great excitement at bedtime – the biggest sleepover any of the children had been on!
The next day we embarked on a long walk through the local woods and up Phillips Hill. The woodland was beautiful and year 3 even managed to spot a monk jack deer in the neighbouring field. After lunch, year 3 trudged off in one direction to enjoy den building, whilst year 4 visited the pond area where they dipped using large nets and then observed the many creatures that they had scooped up. No animals were harmed in this exercise (all were returned safely to the pond).
Again teamwork was the key to success in the den building. The children had to think about what would make a good shelter and what kinds of woodland materials would be useful. Learning to listen to others and make compromises was essential. The shelters were very impressive and one even had an adjacent camp fire with seating.
Before bed we met up in the yurt with Stuart, the Shortenills manager, who led us in singing silly songs and sharing jokes and riddles. That night, we were all pretty exhausted and were able to enjoy a slightly better nights sleep. On the last morning, the year groups swopped so that year 3 could experience pond dipping and year 4 could build dens.
All in all, it was a hugely successful trip with many children wishing they could have stayed longer. The objectives of independence, perseverance and cooperation in an outdoor setting and doing activities we cannot undertake at school were all achieved.
Both the children and staff wanted to ask: Can we go again please Mrs Price?