Today, I found myself working at The Great Escape in South Shropshire with Packwood Haugh, a local independent prep school. The group of 28 youngsters had actually arrived yesterday evening and camped out after a few games. By the time I arrived early this morning, some of them were looking a little damp after a night’s intense rain.
With breakfast finished off, and sleeping bags packed away, it was time to get stuck into the days activities. To break them in, we started with a set of three team tasks. None of these were particularly hard, but they started to get the kids working together and supporting each other. To spice things up, the three teams where in competition against each other. Unfortunately for my team, their lack of clear decision making and sense of urgency meant that they didn’t perform as well as they would have hoped.
Next came a chance to build their own fire, collecting their own fuel from the woods. Again, this had a competitive slant, racing to burn through a piece of string above their fire. For a time it looked as though my team were going to redeem themselves, as they built a fire that would burn quickly, producing large flames but not burn for long. This tactic would (and perhaps should) have worked, but a strong breeze pushed the flames away from the string and, as our ‘flash in the pan’ fire started to die down, we started to realise that the plan had backfired – another failure!
We set about another team task, but more demanding this time. I was impressed by how quickly they got a workable system up and running but, having found a solution, they stopped looking for ways to improve it and didn’t manage to complete the overall task as quickly as the other teams. A great start, but we lost momentum.
After a stop for a BBQ lunch (why does food cooked outdoors always taste so good?), we embarked on the Great Escape challenge. This involves the groups finding their way from point to point and having to complete several tasks on the way. My group were the first to set off, and we seemed to be making good progress until indecision set in. We then found ourselves retracing our steps and roaming blindly around woods for quite a while. By the time we arrived at the first checkpoint, the second and third groups weren’t far behind. It wasn’t long before we were overtaken, but the team kept their spirits up with schemes for getting in front again. Unfortunately, it never happened.
After another team task, it was time to start winding things down as the kids disappeared into the woods to find themselves sticks for cooking marshmallows on the camp fire – always a favourite way to finish.
Overall, it was a great day with lots of fun had. My team could easily have become dispirited, as nothing seemed to be going their way, but they kept their heads up and worked well together. Well done team!