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Porthpean Residential 2023

This year, the residential visit was to the outdoor education centre at Porthpean, which overlooks the expansive St Austell Bay, on Cornwall's stunning south coast.

On arrival, we (Oak class) trooped to the beach where we had our lunch. After lunch, we went to the centre and were shown our accommodation – some rather glamorous pods. Having deposited our bags in our allocated pods, we were straight into our first activity: archery, in which concentration and hand and eye co-ordination are prime attributes. We’re certain that our archer ancestors would be proud of our prowess with the bow. After perforating the target with arrows so that it reminded us of a hedgehog, we moved on to our next activity – caving.

Although the caves we were exploring had been constructed at the centre, the experience was a realistic one, providing chambers, rises and falls, sumps and squeezes. The chambers were of different shapes and sizes, and to negotiate the claustrophobic tunnels linking the caves involved contorting the body into some odd shapes; flexibility was definitely an advantage. After emerging from the caves, blinking likes moles, it was time for our evening meal.

Having assuaged our hunger with a tasty curry, it was time for a silent disco. A silent disco? It's a disco where each of us wore headphones; a practice, no doubt, that was much appreciated by the neighbours!

Day two saw us returning to the beach, where we were going to kayak and paddle board.  The session started with a beach-based briefing, learning all about lifting, launching and paddling.  We were now ready to go on an adventure around St Austell Bay.  We passed through archways, exploring sea caves and beaches that can only be reached by sea.  We were lucky on our voyage to encounter some marine locals in the shape of a couple of grey seals. The day’s activities were rounded off with a game of laser tag.

All too soon, it was our last day at the centre. Our final activity was the high ropes, a challenge, literally and figuratively, on many levels. Amongst the elements we experienced were the leap of faith, the wobbly walkways, the zip wire and the alpine ladder.

The leap of faith involved scaling a ladder to a high, narrow platform with a swinging buoy. The bravest amongst us jumped off to kick or touch the buoy.  The zip wire is a gentle introduction to a zip wire, launching onto a 100-metre-long zip wire from a four-metre-high platform - it proved to be great fun. The alpine ladder was something that many of us hadn’t experienced before. This is an exercise to develop team-work: one person climbs on one side of a wire rope ladder and another person climbs on the other side, each taking care to alternate where hands and feet are put.

We had a great time at Porthpean. We would like to offer a big thank-you not only to the instructors at the centre but also the members of our staff who organised the trip and came with us.