Headteacher: Joy Farrell   |   Tel: 01793 727624   |   Fax: 01793 721964   |   Email: admin@stfrancis.swindon.sch.uk

Monday 21st October, 2019

Welcome from a very sunny Plas Pencelli.  After a very smooth and uneventful journey we arrived and unloaded our cases onto the trailer and then walked the half mile from the coach to our new home (for four days that is.) We were greeted by John who gave us a long list of tasks to complete within two minutes; we had to find our rooms, work out the fire exits and, most importantly after our coach ride, find where the bathrooms were. We barely had time to decide which bunk bed we wanted before the fire drill began. We filed out calmly (all that St Francis training has stood us in good stead) and lined up on the grass, giving us time to admire the wonderful grounds amid the Brecon Mountains.

We then congregated in the classroom for an orientation lecture and we impressed the adults when we explained our own targets of challenging ourselves as well as teamwork and leadership skills; metacognition was mentioned several times and we are looking forward to seeing how we learn in a completely new environment, with new tasks and targets and with the opportunity to work with a variety of our year 6 friends. Next, we were kitted out with our waterproof gear and hung them on our own pegs. Then, not too soon for many of us whose stomachs were rumbling, we were able to make our lunch: sandwiches, with a whole host of fillings, crisps, fruit and even a chocolate biscuit, with a choice of drinks. It was lovely for the staff to see how independent we are in choosing and preparing our own food; the teachers were amazed by the way that some of us who had suggested we might not eat everything devoured our first Pencelli lunch.

We then met our groups’ leaders and learnt all about our afternoon’s activities and what we needed to wear. We collected wellies and kitted ourselves out and set off. Red, Blue and Green went canoeing and Yellow and Orange went gorge scrambling. The canoeists had great fun learning how to paddle and work in teams of 3 and navigating along the beautiful waterways for several (exhausting) miles. We mixed our teams up and varied the captain’s role as we went along. The gorge scramblers first had to find their way along a dis-used (and curved) tunnel, which was pitch-black in the middle so proved a real test of our communication skills as well as a way to convince ourselves we are courageous and bold. Once we had found our way out of the tunnel, we were able to enjoy a lovely (and very wet) descent through waterfalls and river beds. We were able to demonstrate our orientation skills as we took it in turns to lead the group.

Back on the minibuses at the end of day one, we reflected on our hard work and arrived back to the house, several of us wet from the gorge or from jumping in/falling in the canal, and headed for a warming shower. Hot chocolate was also a well-deserved treat, unlike the bed-making which we needed to do before tea-time.

Beds made (a loose description), we headed off to the dining room for dinner. We were able to sit with yet different groups and chat about our varied experiences; even better, we were served pizza, salad and chips…some going back for seconds and even thirds (not so much of the salad, strangely). Dessert was profiteroles – delicious!

An evening of problem-solving showed incredible support and kindness shown to our team members in order to compete for the ultimate accolade of winning team (whose team names ranged from The Tasty Tacos to Super Sausages…The games tested our memory, co-ordination and our creativity, when we had to design a way to drop an egg from the ceiling without it cracking…..You will just have to wait to hear the final result of that.

Bed time at 9…You will just have to wait to hear the final result of this other challenge!

Tuesday will see the Blues, Reds and Oranges are going rock climbing and the Greens and Yellows are going caving.

Photos hopefully will follow soon. Good night all.

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