Great Escape with Packwood Haugh

Today, I got to spend the day with 30 boys from Packwood Haugh School at The Great Escape. They actually arrived last night and spent the evening playing various games before spending the night in 10 man tents. By the time I arrived, they were warming themselves by the camp fire after a chilly night under a cloudless sky. The recent heat wave over the last few days has been amazing during the day, but most people haven’t realised how much the temperature has been dropping over night.

Pulling together on the Tyre Swing
Pulling together on the Tyre Swing

Today was all about spending time outdoors, competitive team tasks and, most importantly, having fun. The group were split into 3 teams of 10 that would spend the day working together in an attempt to outperform the other teams. My team had got off to a good last night, by either winning or coming joint first in any challenges. As a result, they were full of confidence and enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, this confidence soon evaporated as we failed to match expectations. During the first 3 tasks of the day, we managed one second and two last places, and our overall standing in the competition looked a little less bright. Our main problem was not thinking ‘outside the box’, and we failed to identify the most efficient ways of achieving things. Although we successfully completed 2 of these tasks, we were simply too slow and lacked focus.

The next challenge involved building a fire, with materials collected from the local wood in an attempt to burn through string suspended above the fire pit. My group did really well to collect large quantities of quick burning material but, when it came to actually constructing the fire, I wasn’t convinced that they were going to succeed. Too many pairs of hands building simultaneously were not helping, and it started to resemble a squashed pile not allowing enough air into the base. However, a few last minute adjustments saved the day, and our fire sprang into life to gain full points.

An improvised river crossing
An improvised river crossing

After lunch,we had a crack at another couple of team tasks but, as before, lacked focus and efficiency. We got there in the end, but the other teams tended to outperform us. We could get the job done, but didn’t have the creativity to use our resources as effectively as the other teams.

The big challenge of the afternoon was the Great Escape. This has the teams running around the countryside to predetermined checkpoints, gathering information and performing tasks. My team set off at a fast pace and, to my surprise, they managed to keep it up. We headed over the hills to a lake, where they had to raft across a lake. Later they had to get from one checkpoint to another ‘3 legged’ with a partner. They also had to carry a member of the team on a stretcher. Just to make life harder for themselves, they took a route that involved going steeply downhill through woodland which was interesting. They really worked hard at this and were rewarded by managing to finish a good 10 minutes faster than either of the other teams – maximum points again.

By the end of the day, the score board was an interesting sight with a good spread of points between the 3 teams. Although it could have gone either way, my team were deservedly proud when their victory was announced. Well done guys!

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