As we approached the end of 2019 we were excited to open up our adventure week competition for a school or group to win a 4 day activity residential, courtesy of our good friends at Boulder Adventures outdoor centre in Llanberis.
It was with great pleasure that we were able to offer the place to Mulberry Academy Shoreditch, London. However, just as organisations got underway for the trip in March 2020, little did we know what was about to hit. The following two years would see immense pressures put on many outdoor centres and the outdoor education sector as a whole. Boulder Adventures was no different, but being driven by passionate people with a belief in how giving children outdoor experiences can really enhance their lives, they persevered.
There was also the resulting impact on school residential's and their chances to expose children to these positive experiences at early ages, something that was sorely missed and amplified by having to adapt to home learning and increased isolation of lockdowns. Residential trips can play a crucial role in counter balancing the result driven pressures being faced in the classrooms and help develop such as confidence, independence and social skills.
Finally, 2 years later the residential was able to go ahead with great excitement.
Anna Bartlett from Mulberry Academy Shoreditch applied to the Alpkit Foundation and she explained why it was so important.
“As an inner city secondary state school in Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, our students are severely deprived of outdoor experiences and I wholeheartedly believe that these young people should not be punished or disadvantaged further by the lack of funding, educational resources and opportunities that we are inhibited by.
With the rich, ethnic diversity of our cohort, it is clear how they gain so much from any opportunity, like the Boulder Adventures residential course, that exposes them to the outdoors and allows them to experience its beauty and wonder. There are always so many students that would benefit hugely from the chance to rock climb, canoe and generally be in the mountains – students who lack confidence and self-esteem, students who need stimulation and challenge, students who desperately need a chance to thrive outside the walls of an academic classroom in which they struggle to reach their potential.”
Then finally they got just that opportunity. March 2022 they made their way over to North Wales. David Crombie from Boulder Adventures gave a quick run down on how they got on.
"From Monday to Friday they resided in Llanberis at Bryn Du Mountain Centre, everyday they were up and out early, in good sprits, whatever the weather to explore the natural environment. With help from our instructors they built their own rafts and tried them out on Llyn Padarn, on a cold but beautiful evening.
A local climbing crag was popular with this group, with lots of nerves and excitement before we got going. Most of them, having never done it before, enjoyed climbing to the top of the rock face and with help from their friends holding the rope, lowering safely down to the ground again.
Gorge Scrambling requires team work and resilience, this group had a great time splashing and climbing up the beautiful Afon Ddu river. The students really got to know each other through the week. They lived, cooked and shared rooms together, they tried new things and left their comfort zones and achieved together. By the end of the week they were a very good team and we like to think new friendships were made."
As a passionate outdoors person herself, Anna certainly understands the huge benefit of getting young people outside and to be able to offer outdoor residential trips can add so much.
“When I ask my students what they did over the school holidays, and listen to muted responses of ‘sleep’, ‘play Fifa’ and ‘watch Netflix’, I am so disheartened by the insularity and narrowness of their free time and the conspicuous absence of time spent outdoors. Our students could not be more in need of a chance to experience nature, wildness and a world removed from screens and high rise buildings. That’s why it was important to ensure we could choose students on whom this experience would have a genuinely life-changing impact. Our Y8 and Y9 students had a fantastic week of outward bound in Snowdonia. The students enjoyed a jam packed schedule of adventurous activities and although pushed outside of their comfort zone, it was brilliant to see them rise to different challenges and work as a team.”
We are incredibly thankful to David and his team at Boulder Adventures sticking with this residential and making sure that it was still able to go ahead after so long, especially after going through such challenging times. To Anna and the Mulberry Academy Shoreditch for holding out so they could allow these kids to have this opportunity.