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Middle Years Adventure at Avon Tyrrell

Over eighty Middle Years students, from Years 5-8, travelled to the New Forest to take part in the first HCH Middle Years Adventure at Avon Tyrrell outdoor centre.

The residential trip combined adventurous outdoor activities – such as climbing, canoeing, archery, bushcraft and pioneering – with academic enrichment courses devised by the Middle Years form tutors. Students invented ways to move tomatoes without squashing them, acted scenes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, unpicked codes to catch a spy, wrote their own rap music, created scrapbook diaries in French and studied the physiology of fitness.

The children enjoyed staying in the spooky Avon Tyrrell manor house, deep in the New Forest National Park. Everyone returned to school after a packed three-day programme very tired but very happy.

Thursday

There was a buzz in the corridors of the Middle Years on Thursday morning as all the students and teachers prepared to depart for Hampshire. After a smooth drive we arrived and settled into our bedrooms. The children launched into their first activity straight after lunch, with the first academic enrichment session later in the afternoon.

As night fell, Kathryn led the first of her Darkwood Manor drama workshops with some of Years 7 and 8, while the others gathered in a dark drawing room in front of the fire to tell ghost stories. Years 5 and 6 set out on a night walk, where they learned about the history of Avon Tyrrell and enjoyed the lack of light pollution in the New Forest to see constellations and city lights twinkling in the distance.

Friday

Dawn broke over the New Forest to a crisp, still morning. The Year 7 boys showed off their sophisticated side by making tea in their lodge. All the children excitedly plunged into their first of the day’s three activities after a full English breakfast.

After a packed morning the academic enrichment courses concluded:

  • Students taking the Magick and Murder course with Adam wrote speeches for their own witch-trial after reading about the notorious Pendle witch hunt of 1612.
  • Selina (Year 5) and Darius (Year 6) were victorious in the Squashed Tomato Challenge with Siv, while the Year 7 girls devising an elegant straw bed to keep the tomatoes safe.
  • Graham explored in The Science Behind Music the effects of music on the brain and wrote their own raps; Guinevere (Year 5), Bruno (Year 7) and Zoe (Year 6) gave their all.
  • Codebreakers on Mission: Impossible worked tirelessly under the guidance of spy-chief Mark to uncover the turncoat in their midst. Special mention to Amelia (Year 7) and Beth (Year 8) for leading their team to victory.
  • Tom’s keen athletes tested each other’s fitness on How Fit Are You?
  • And, after taking hundreds of pictures, Dominique worked with her linguists to write diary entries in French for their photo-journals on the Mon Album Souvenir course.
  • That evening Years 7 and 8 gathered around a camp fire while it was the turn of Year 5 and 6 to take over the spooky manor house and create Darkwood Manor, with whispering statues and ghostly candles.

    Saturday

    Despite being the last day the children enjoyed an action-packed programme on Saturday morning, cramming in two more activities. The teachers inspecting the bedrooms were unrelenting in their pursuit of perfection, with the boys’ dorms faring surprisingly well for tidiness! After a quick lunch outside in the sunshine, the journey back to school was quick and smooth. All the children (and the teachers) got off the bus extremely tired but very happy.

    Many stories will be told, we hope, about the Middle Years Adventure.