At 5am on 22nd July, 45 people met in a quiet street in Rotherham. Their common aim was to experience a range of outdoor adventurous activities. A coach arrived, with fake leather bright orange seats and a driver named Tristan. The journey was to begin which would lead to the Acorn village at Ardres in France. Not a soul slept on that extensive journey as most were teenagers and they knew that if their eyes shut, they would awaken with a marker moustache drawn across their upper-lip ………… or worse!
They arrived at Acorn in the early afternoon and set up camp. Then as a body they were taken to the wet obstacle course. In 4 teams they competed against each other to overcome the various hurdles pitted against them, whilst coming under a constant barrage of water from hoses, buckets and other vessels. They emerged from this sodden and dirty but already with a deeper sense of community and team.
The young people worked hard during the week and took part in a range of activities which included: Archery, Kata-Kanu, Kayaking, Canoeing, Raft building, High ropes (leap of faith) and Crate stack, Fencing, Stand-up paddle boarding, Mission impossible and Nightline.
Behind the scenes the skills which were developing were:
- encouraging personal goal setting and boundary testing;
- developing dexterity and coordination skills, control and balance;
- teaching the importance of listening to health and safety instructions;
- building confidence in the water and out of it;
- teaching kayaking skills and techniques;
- developing coordination and stability;
- encouraging team work;
- building and improving physical fitness;
- developing leadership skills;
- encouraging strategic and creative thinking;
- teaching the importance of listening to instructions;
- and encouraging team camaraderie.
They also experienced the local French community by visiting the village market and trekking to an ice-cream parlour in a rural location. At these places they developed their communication skills and sample foreign cuisine.
With the expedition coming to a close 45 sun baked and exhausted people climbed back into their fake leather bright orange seats to make the long journey back to Yorkshire. This time they allowed each other to sleep without any danger of being pranked. The talk aboard the coach was of the highlights of the week, sinking the Kata-Kanu whilst being pirates, jumping off the end of the paddle board raft, getting soaked doing the nightline, being brave enough to make the leap of faith from the top of the pole, and taking the trophy for volleyball against an unbeaten staff side despite their cheating. Strangely they never even complained about the epic washing up sessions for over 60 people at a time.
The members of 218 Rotherham Squadron Royal Air Force Air Cadets would like to thank all the people involved in making this expedition a success, in particular, they would like to acknowledge the support from the Ulysses Trust, the RAF Charitable Trust, and Asda Store Rotherham for help in raising funds to make the trip accessible to everyone.