It is expected that the start of the Autumn term should be filled with many Westholme firsts for our Year 7 students. However this weekend our Year 7’s got to experience a first for Westholme as students, their Form Tutors, Mrs Keanely and Mrs Cowan set off for the inaugural PGL weekend away to Winmarleigh.
On Friday morning the Bungalow and its cloakrooms resembled airport baggage halls as suitcases and their slightly nervous, yet excited, owners awaited departure. Equipped with clothing for whatever the weather, Year 7 departed Wilmar Lodge hoping for the sunshine and blue skies promised by the weather forecast.
Upon arrival, cases were swiftly dumped, introductions to our PGL leaders made and students were put into their activity groups for the weekend. With one of the main purposes of the weekend to get to know each other, students were mixed up in their teaching and form groups and thrown straight in, at the activity deep end, with raft building, zip wire and all-terrain vehicles amongst the first activities of the day.
The ‘sensory trail’ activity proved to be far from the peaceful and tranquil experience its name suggested with water pistols, leaves and mud featuring heavily in the obstacles to navigate whilst being blind folded. After that it was time for a quick refuel and lunch break and then groups were back out for another two activities in the glorious sunshine. Whether it was this that made the cold lake water so tempting in raft building or the less than successful engineering is to be debated, but there was many a soggy trainer drying out on Friday evening. Dinner was followed by free time and then an orienteering activity in which students got to burn off any remaining energy before heading off to their Dorms for what staff hoped would be a ‘good night’s sleep’.
Saturday brought with it more sunshine and an early start as students had to be up and at breakfast for 7.25. Another full day’s activities followed, each challenging students in different ways. There was the high ropes course for some and the trapeze which saw many of our students jump off a 12 metre platform, which they had had to climb despite its narrow width and wobbly nature. Groups also worked together in the problem solving task and challenge course to get a positive outcome and solution to all of the riddles and obstacles that were put before them, whether it was untying themselves out of a self-inflicted knot or . Despite completing four activities, students still found the energy for the dance floor in the evening disco, although another early start on the Sunday for their final activity meant that we returned some very tired Year 7’s back to Wilmar Lodge!
All that remained on the Sunday morning was last final activity before it was time to return back to Wilmar Lodge. There is no doubt that the weekend was a real success: it provided students with the opportunity to get to know each other and we were all impressed with the support students showed towards each other which enabled many students to push themselves out of their comfort zone and face their fears.
Already, Year 7 have shown themselves to be a fun-loving, caring and resilient group of students and it was lovely to see them enjoying their time together and integrating so well as a year group.