Year 4 pupils had waited for many months for their Burwell experience and when it arrived, earlier this month, it certainly lived up to expectations.
The three days and two nights away from home were packed with fun, learning, friendship and new experiences. For many it was the first time away from home without their parents and, although they were a little nervous, an air of anticipation surrounded Year 4 as we gathered on the Monday morning.
After a quick stop at Devil's Dyke to appreciate the importance of the Anglo Saxon earthwork, we arrived at Burwell House to be greeted by James Dawkins, our leader for the visit. Within half of an hour of arriving, the children were already running around in the grounds, finding questions and answers, and becoming familiar with their new environment. From then on it seemed to be excitement after excitement as they devoured their first meal, unpacked their suitcases in the dormitories, began the mapping activities, discovered the equipment in the PlayPod and enjoyed some free time in the grounds. It was lovely to see so many happy faces and watch the children working and playing collaboratively.
Following a successful evening and quiet night, the children began their second day, albeit rather early in the morning. Having built up an appetite running around before breakfast and watching the newly hatched blue tit chicks on the bird box camera, the children fuelled themselves for the day ahead with enormous baskets of toast and bowls of cereal. The first activity involved practising mapping skills on a walk around the village, orientating themselves, tracking progress along the route and adding features to their maps. The spooky murder mystery of Mr Peak provided entertainment and a chance to look for bones in the Lode. Once back at Burwell House and after a full roast chicken lunch, the children began the famous Eggscape Challenge. This activity, which focuses on developing teamwork skills, was thoroughly enjoyed by all. It was good to see groups and individuals realise which skills they needed to improve in order to work together better and then make those changes during the very next task. Although some found the lessons harder than others, everyone learnt to listen to each other more and appreciate the contribution of every member of their group. Perhaps this was the reason that a record number of eggs survived the journey from the top of the fire escape.
On the third day, after a slightly longer but equally quiet night, the children learnt how to use a compass to follow both directions and bearings. Even though tiredness was beginning to show, the children managed to squeeze out their last drop of energy to complete the orienteering course with dibbers attached to their fingers, a map and the timer running. They had to run around the course, finding the flagged controls in the correct order. As they reached each one they recorded their visit by pressing the dibber into the control slot and stopped the timer with the final control point. The times were generally very fast and it looks like we could have a few budding orienteering champions in Year 4.
Mrs Roberts, Mrs Russell, Mrs Neely and Miss Bond were very proud of the Year 4 pupils and how they developed during the trip. In their thank you letters to James Dawkins the children talked about making new friends, feeling more grown up, learning to be independent and finding out how to work in a group. A good number of the children also felt that their table manners improved, thanks to the candelabra and golden napkins, which were handed out after each meal! We have definitely noticed a difference since the children have returned to school and it is good to see the year group growing in maturity and taking more responsibility for themselves.