Biggs picked me up on Friday morning and we got to school at 3.50am!! The Year 7 students slowly started arriving, looking half asleep, and we set off at 5am. There were 10 members of staff and 100 students split onto 2 coaches. We caught the ferry from Portsmouth at 8.15am and were able to kill some of the time with the onboard entertainment provided for the students. There was a guy doing tricks and games with them, and then a juggler, but the best bit was when they put all the games/equipment etc on the dance floor and just let the students muck around. 6 hours later we were docking in Caen. We drove another couple of hours until we reached our destination for the weekend, Chateau du Tertre. We organised the students into their rooms, they got a quick tour of the facilities and then it was time for dinner. After dinner they had an evening activity, Le Passeport au Monde, which was basically a scavenger hunt. Then it was off to bed while the ‘adults’ (I put this in inverted commas, because our behaviour was often childlike) relaxed in the lounge with wine. Each evening PGL (the company who run the ‘camp’) provided us with free wine and cheese, which was a nice way of unwinding after each day. A rota was done up so that each member of staff was only on duty one night out of the 3, so we all got a chance to relax a bit.
On the Saturday and Sunday we split into different groups and all did something slightly different on a rotational basis, so I’ll tell you what I did with my group. After breakfast my small group had initiative exercises and then a team building session, which was basically just games with our team versus another team. I got involved so spent most of the morning running around the field trying to capture the other team’s flag! After lunch we went with a few other groups on the coach into Domfront where the students did a town trail and then had some free time to explore the town. We came back to the Chateau for dinner and then it was time for Mini Olympics. We made a staff team and had a lot of fun – I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. Some of the things we did were hilarious, but it was more the little comments that were made. It was one of those evenings where one thing led to another and we basically just all ended up laughing so hard we could hardly move, with tears rolling down our faces. It was a good night!!
On Sunday morning we walked into town to visit a French bakery. My group (and a few others) went around the markets first and then had the time in the bakery. They watched a video and then the baker showed them how to make croissants, which they all got to try. They then had time in the shop itself before going back to the town for a bit. We then met the other groups down by the river for a picnic lunch and some walked back while others went on the coach. I walked back and Jo and I were up the front, having water fights and singing along loudly to the ‘copy me’ type songs the leader was singing. My group then got to go on the climbing wall and all of my kids (except one who got very close) made it to the top – I was so proud of them. They all then started chanting for me to do it, so since I was all harnessed up I had a go and I MADE IT!! It was hard work but I’m glad I did it. By this point there were all sorts of activities set up and the students could basically do whatever they wanted. They each got a go on the zipwire, but I was too exhausted so I went and sat on the grass while Maggie did yoga with some of the students and staff. After dinner the kids had some free time and then a disco, which was a lot of fun.
After breakfast on Monday, we packed everything back onto the coaches and headed for Caen. We stopped off at a supermarket and also at a 360 degree cinema, where they have some of the history of the battles. We drove along the beaches to the port and this time on the ferry we were in our own little lounge area. At first, we didn’t like it as we were a bit isolated from everything else and the seats were in rows like an aeroplane, but it ended up working quite well. The staff all had a meal together and then the entertainment was another disco! It took a bit longer to get through customs on the way back, but we were back at school by midnight with all the parents waiting for us. I waited with the others until all the kids had gone home (which didn’t take long) and was home tucked up in bed by 12.30.
It was a fantastic trip and I’m so glad I went. I am so proud of the group as a whole, but especially the students in my tutor group who I got to spend a lot of time with. It was also nice to get to know the staff on the trip better too. We all had a lot of fun together and have some crazy photos (not all of which I can put on here as there are students either in them or in the background). I’ll put them on the blog now, but it may take me a while as there are lots. Thanks to all involved for making it such a memorable trip 🙂