20th June 2012
First to kick start the Year 9 Activities week was the visit to the Souks of Marrakech and the mountains of the High Atlas. Thirty eight students successfully honed their bartering skills and conquered Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa at 4167m.
Marrakech is a vibrant city, full of interesting sights, sounds and smells. Walking round the Jab el Fina square with its snake charmers, street dentists, tarot card readers and stalls selling local spices, figs and dates is a world away from Amersham, and it is easy to spend hours wondering round the souks where you can buy almost anything from the hundreds of shops and market stalls. From the flat lands around Marrakech the adventure really begins as you drive up into the High Atlas. Trekking in the heat, over mountain passes above 3000m and sleeping in remote Berber villages is physically and emotionally challenging, but offers spectacular rewards through the sense of achievement and the stunning mountain views.
This visit challenges the students in many ways and encourages them to use key learning habits. They came home happy and exhausted, with many tales to tell of the trip of a lifetime.
Lake Ullswater in Cumbria provided the location for a week of glorious gorge-walking, climbing and overnight expeditions with Outward Bound. Arriving in full sunshine and 25 degree heat, no one had to be coerced in to the first activity to jog and take a dip in the lake.
Outward Bound, with their excellent expertise and enthusiasm, provided the group with a truly challenging week focused on developing invaluable team work skills. Whether it was ‘spotting’ for one another during a gorge scramble, belaying each other up crag faces, or putting up a tent, everyone showed commitment and determination to achieve their best together. Gorge walking was a particular highlight for many students. Dressed in wet suits, wellington boots and waterproofs, they waddled and waded up a waterfall, clambering up boulders only to jump into a large, refreshing natural pool at the top.
However, the week's activities culminated in a gruelling overnight expedition. Students scaled some of England's tallest mountains, camped overnight and cooked survival food with a trangia by starlight, all for the first time. It was an unforgettable week for the students made perfect by the exceptional weather, the superb Outward Bound staff and ethos, and the dedication of the accompanying teachers.