A couple of years ago I got into conversation on Twitter with a number of fellow 'Tweeters' about the benefits of taking children away for residentials. As with many such discussions, it wasn't planned - someone started the thread and others added their thoughts. The end result, however, informed continuing debate and discussion about what we do in school and why we do it - and how it benefits the children.
The talking point on this occasion was an article from 'The Guardian’, entitled, "What I'm really thinking about | The school trip teacher". It's fair to say that I read through it with a mixture of bemusement and wonder...this poor person clearly didn't enjoy taking children away for school trips and had been heavily leaned on to do so!
The headmaster that had shared the original post posited that the vast majority of teachers really enjoy school trips. I believe that's true. They're a lot of work in the planning and organisation, but we're glad to organise them each year because we see how much your children gain during their time away. Ask any of our Prep 6 or alumni about their memories of Edenhurst and without exception, the trips to France (Chateau and Ski Trip), Spain, Condover Hall and Hesley Wood (Cubs) will feature strongly in their list.
A lot of personal growth takes place during this time away. For some children, this is the first time they have been outside of the UK - it may be the first time that a child has used a passport, and it is an honour that the first trip that they take is with school. Going through a ferry terminal or an airport can be a challenge for an adult, never mind a young child, and I am always impressed by the aplomb with which our children handle this. They rise to challenges and feel more confident about trying food or activities that may otherwise be out of their comfort zone. They have to take care of their possessions and ensure that they are ready for activities by a given time (albeit with a watchful eye over them!)
It also gives them an opportunity to shine in different ways from those in school. Friendships are strengthened and also built: one of the great points about these experiences, for me, is seeing children appreciate each other in a new way - recognising that the reflective child is actually a fantastic problem solver; or gaining a new respect for one of their classmates as they see them grow and excel at new activities. Cross-year group friendships are also built: whilst we are a small and friendly school, sharing rooms and groups with older or younger children gives further opportunity for the children to get to know each other better!
Upon entering the Prep Forms at Edenhurst, all children are given the opportunity to take part in a number of residential experiences. Years 3-6 are able to attend the Ski Trip; Years 4-6 to go to the Château de la Baudonniére Normandy; and Years 5 and 6 to Barcelona. All Prep Form members not attending the residentials in France or Spain are able to take part in our annual bushcraft-themed 'Camp Edenhurst', and Prep 6 enjoy ’their own’ residential at Condover Hall.
For those of you reading this whose children have not yet had the opportunity to go away with school or any other organisation, I cannot recommend it enough. My own first trip away was to Cub Camp at eight years old and I value the sense of independence, willingness to try new experiences and go to new places that I gained from these formative trips away. As Edenhurst seeks to develop the whole child and NURTURE their growth, we see residential experiences as a valuable means of enhancement. Your children will return with their shoulders a little further back, their chin a little higher and their confidence boosted through their personal growth during the last few days away. They will have so much to tell you that it will take a while for everything to come out!
Please follow our Tweets, Facebook posts and blogs from Le Corbier this week, and enjoy our photographs. These will give you an idea of how much the children really do gain from the residential experience.