Trewern is situated in a beautiful part of the country, about a mile from Hay-on-Wye in a small village called Cussop on the English/Welsh border. The centre is situated near climbing quarries, rivers, lakes and caves which makes it a perfect location. Trewern is owned by The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and is subsidised to keep costs down. It has highly qualified instructors who love their job and who the children hero worship by the time they have to leave.
Juliet, the Centre’s Head always looks forward to Ripple Primary School visiting as they are always well organised and motivated. I’m sure this year will be no exception.
The emphasis of the trip this year is on team building and independence building as well as fulfilling the National Curriculum targets for Outdoor and Adventurous Education. We will also focus on Geography, English, Science, ICT and Personal, Social and Health Education.
The children will have the opportunity to canoe down a six mile stretch of the River Wye. The canoes are Indian canoes rather than Kayaks. Canoes hold two or three people usually and the children have to learn the skills of steering and keeping stroke. This is not as easy as it sounds, after travelling around in a succession of circles for about 10 minutes! Children soon get the hang of it though. There is only one stretch of rapids and although very gentle the children always want to try them again. For those of you who are worried about your children drowning, you’ll be pleased to know that this is nearly impossible. The canoes are very hard to capsize as they are so heavy. The river is not very deep and the children will wear lifejackets and protective helmets that will be checked for fit before they will be allowed to enter the canoe.
CLIMBING AND ABSEILING
At this age children are incredibly agile and master the techniques of climbing very quickly. It is fantastic to watch them, especially with the children being so encouraging and supportive of each other. Abseiling is a real adrenalin rush. Yes the cliffs are high and looking down is not advised, but going first and getting it over and done with is advisable. More often than not this is the activity children want to have another go at! All the instructors are very calm, supportive and highly skilled.
This is the activity that induces tears in children and adults alike and which I was least looking forward to, although I am getting more confident. However, the caves are spectacular and tunnels called the ‘washing machine’ and the ‘letterbox’ provide excitement and something to write home about. The only thing you really have to worry about is sore knees. Although this is probably the most challenging activity it is also a great favourite amongst children and often the one they retain the clearest memories of. Again, the instructors are highly trained.
GORGE WALKING/WATERFALL WALKING
This is all about walking up gorges and streams and standing under waterfalls. The kids adore this, and it is exhilarating, but cold. This is my favourite, although it doesn’t sound that exciting, the waterfalls are spectacular and the children are often more tired from a day of walking than anything else.
This is all about collecting tokens by following maps and using compasses. The first team back with their ticket clipped correctly wins. I’m sure there are activities I’ve missed off, so sorry now if the children come back with news of activities you haven’t read about. In the evenings the children have the opportunity to have a go on the adventure rope course at the centre, play volleyball, football, and take part in a nightline which includes blacked out goggles and lots of climbing through undergrowth and giggling whilst following a rope set out by horrible teachers who take it as an opportunity to get them back for all the tricks they play on us. We just sit back and laugh!
Can you please note that all children are expected to try all the activities. If your child has serious concerns about one or more activities, you must consider whether this is a suitable trip for them. However, we often find that the children who are initially scared are often amazed at how much they enjoy the activity and how much they can achieve!
HEALTH AND SAFETY ON ACTIVITIES
Life jackets are provided for water-based activities. The water isn’t very deep on the river and any non/weak swimmers are noted and placed with a suitable adult. During activities, the instructors are in charge at all times. The teaching staff are there to actively support and encourage the children. The instructors have a close relationship with the children and their teaching may involve appropriate physical contact to ensure the success of the course and safety of the children at all times. Any action or behaviour of the children that will either endanger themselves or others will be met with possible physical restraint. I hope children will be responsible and this will not be necessary.