Last week, instead of helping my wife look after and bring up our own baby daughter, I traipsed off to the Isle of Man with the children of 59 other sets of parents for a Year 6 school residential.
Three weeks before term finishes, they had been looking forward to this “holiday” for months and it had finally arrived.
For the staff, there was a bit more trepidation. No longer could we simply hand the children back at the end of the school day – we had them round the clock.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of residentials at primary school. The children get so much out of them and the experiences last forever. Never before had I gone away with quite so many though…
Here’s my guide to the things I learned this time.
1. It’s possible to mix a Summer Camp leader with a teacher
For one week a year, I help lead on a church summer camp, which involves leading young people. My default setting for that is usually to play the fool, charge around crazily and generally make a lot of noise in the name of “entertainment.”
This year, I clicked into this gear from arriving at school on Monday morning. Why? Maybe because it was sunny? Possibly because I was heading to the beach? Perhaps just because it’s far more fun. Or maybe just because Nick was equally as daft as me and we spurred each other on!!
2. I can enjoy a ham salad for dinner
Normally, I’d turn my nose up at a “cold” dinner. Why would cold food count as a dinner? However, after a boiling hot day spent chivvying children around a 7 mile walk, a cold ham salad proved very refreshing and soothing.
So will it make next week’s menu? I’m not so sure!
3. One tennis ball is worth far more than other beach toys
First day. Beach trip. We needed some equipment so visited the local Spar to pick up balls, buckets and spades, bats, the works. We came out with over £40 worth of beach games and the facilities to keep all children entertained.
The reality? Well, a very simple teachers vs children game of “Keep the tennis ball”, played with an 89p item of sporting goodness proved comfortably the most popular activity.
Who cares if it broke after the first outing!
4. You’re never too old for a selfie
The craze of selfies has prompted shockers such as this by Arsenal’s Wojcech Szczesny or this by the Chainsmokers. And our school children are no different. There were lots of selfies taking place, even on disposable cameras. Doesn’t that defy the point?
And yet, they were surprised when we started taking selfies as well. But why not? At least you only have yourself to blame when the photo is terrible!
5. Fair play to people who can withstand sea sickness
Travelling back on a small ferry in Gale Force 7 winds was not fun. At all. The topsy turvy nature of the journey ripped apart our party including most of the staff, rendering the vast majority of the school group incapacitated. But our head teacher and our inspirational team “mother” Vicki were totally fine, charging round with bags, paper towels and happy smiles while the rest of us suffered. Thanks guys!