Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Day three in the Big Exmouth house, and the new fashion is ...

You get to the point where various fashions and fads take over camp.  New cool words and phrases introduced by instructors, or invented by the gang.  Furthermore, the clothing goes through stages as well; neon clothing is big this year, as are fluffy socks.  Naturally, I am the only person here without a onesie.

Then there are those trends that have gone on so long that they have become traditions, rites of passage.  Newer, first time campers trying to wear every item of clothing before tea on day one.  The interminable questioning (see yesterday).  The disco ....

Then there are trends and fashions which only last for a single camp, so special and unique are they to the specific group running the show that year - by which I mean the children.  There are certain things / phrases / actions that are so specific to that particular group of children, from the dynamic often forged on the tentative but oh-so-excited coach trip down, which imprint themselves on the psyche and memory of that year's camp that that becomes the colour tint of the glasses through which you view it.

You will notice from the paragraph above that my unutterably appalling choice of phrases never seems to go out of fashion.  Or, indeed, enter it.

Anyhoo, what fashion are this group forging?  What trends are these guys using as their camp a la mode?  What is en vogue this year?  Well, here's the amazing thing.  It's something we could not hope to teach, something we have tried to weave into a thousand School Improvement Plans, but always manage to lose sight of.  Something intangible, but incredibly important.  Something wonderful.

It is (drum roll please) team work.

What we adults have commented upon repeatedly this week is how well they have worked together.  Wind surfing yesterday they had to do in pairs, one holding whilst the other got on.  They were immense, not only holding the surf but encouraging and supporting one another, reveling in their friends' successes and consoling failed attempts.

Yesterday afternoon the title of the activity was "team challenge", but, as we have discovered in years gone by, this does not always encourage working in that method.  However, we saw nothing but amazing group work - 9 children working together to write on a whiteboard with a pen attached to a gas bottle and several ropes - I'm not making it up.  My group worked on the notorious island challenge, set up for adults, for an hour and a quarter, and then shared in the achievements althogether, posing for shared photos of triumph.

Today, children have collaborated on building huge towers. Nothing special you may say, until I tell you that they were standing on top of it whilst trying to build it!  At the other end of the centre, teams were building, and then sailing and racing, huge rafts.  All four rafts built, with great teamwork and shared effort, floated for over 25 minutes.  Two groups actually managed to pull their rafts together and swap every member from one to the other (with two year 6 boys voluntarily in the freezing water holding them together for everyone else).  Most touching was how they encouraged one another to take the leap of faith, or run of a pontoon into a lake of faith.  One of the year 5 children braved it.  She emerged from the depths frozen, but ears ringing to the cheers of her friends from the group.

This evening, at the annual Willis quiz, the completely jumbled up groups all laughed and giggled their way through questions and tasks.  At the end I asked the teams to choose their most athletic year 5.  One group chose their smallest and possibly least athletic.  They all knew it was ironic.  They all knew it was a giggle.  They all joined in - little one included.

Some fashions are manufactured, predictable, even dull.  Some are priceless, and impossible to engineer without the goodwill of the models themselves.  Some just make you smile a little more, or a lot.

As the cheese board looms, for another day, that is all.