St.Stephen's School

Year 5's trip to Fairplay House Barge

At the end of last half term some Year 5 pupils had the amazing opportunity to stay on a barge in Malden, Essex for 2 nights and take part in some thrilling activities. The bus journey buzzed with excitement as we all chatted about what the next 3 days be like. Upon arrival we dodged puddles with our suitcases and helped each other onto the barge, with the assistance of Pete and Dom our activity leaders (for the next few days). After some introductions from the leaders and some some excellent advice (there is never bad weather, just bad clothing) we all donned our raincoats and wellies, and embarked on our first exciting activity in the pouring rain and wind. Unaffected by the weather the children courageously walked on high ropes, abseiled down the climbing wall and in trusting pairs tackled the challenges of the obstacle course. It was soon time to go back to the barge and settle in for the evening. Independence and teamwork were the main objectives of the trip and the children got stuck in (in groups) by setting up tables for dinner, serving food to their friends and clearing up after themselves. Surprisingly they were all also taught to make their own beds with clean bed linen and to unpack their suitcases into their small cupboards and draws. It was time for us to split into two groups and take a night walk along the path next to the sea wall. We started at different points and had to try to beat each other back to the barge. We all really enjoyed this and took the time to look at the thousands of stars in the sky as there was very little light pollution (unlike London). We saw many constellations of stars, like Orion's belt and observed the face on the moon and its gleaming light. After a tiring day the children quietly wrote their favourite events in their diaries and went off to bed knowing they had an early start.

As the sun rose above the barge the children busily got themselves ready for their second day of activities. Independently the children made their beds and in groups helped prepare breakfast and clean up ready to make their sandwiches for lunch. A short bus ride away was an enchanting woodland where we played games and learned lots of facts about trees, plants and animals. We worked as a team to help each other walk up a very steep hill and timed ourselves running through sinking mud, down and up a small valley. We were all so surprised and pleased about what we had learned. The children's favourite part of the day was going down the zip wire. They climbed the stairs of the tower, were clipped safely onto several ropes and swung swiftly down the zip wire. Although some of the children were scared they all bravely tried it and couldn't wait to go again, they found it exhilarating. It was very impressive to see the children cheer each other on and help each other face their fears. After all of this excitement we returned to the barge and made pizzas for dinner. After groups cleaned up the saloon area we played a game called 'the hat game' where we had to describe and mime the characters of the names we pull out of the hat. We all had lots of fun, especially the boys because there must have been about ten pieces of paper with the name David Beckham on. Again the children all settled into writing their diaries and quietly went to bed.

We woke up early again on our last day and were ready for Pete to give us our instructions on his arrival at 9am. The children cleaned their rooms, took off all of their bed sheets and packed their suitcases. He was very impressed that the children were ready so early and with such a tidy barge, he decided that he had time to tell us all some of his funny stories. I wonder if the children can remember any of them. As we got ready to go orienteering the rain started to fall and the wind started to howl through the windows of the barge. We got into four groups and were challenged to get the letters from each of the points on our maps and get back to the barge first. None of the adults were allowed to help, although I know that we all found that quite difficult as it was a very exciting activity. Again, we all donned our raincoats and wellies and walked off speedily to find our first letters. We loved having walkie talkies to speak to each other and check that no one was lost. After about forty minutes walking bravely in the rain we all dried ourselves off and settled into the saloon of the barge to eat our sandwiches and biscuits. After we reflected fondly on our time at the barge we made our way to the coach. Luckily, on the coach, we all got the opportunity to say thank you to Pete and Dom for being such fun activity leaders and although we were sad to leave we were pleased with he experiences that we had gained.