Cheshire ACF Outreach Project 23 – 27 April 2012
Cheshire ACF conducted an Outreach Project over a five day period, split between Nesscliffe Training Camp, and a campsite near Fairbourne in North Wales. Our Partners were The Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy Runcorn. I had a number of meetings with the academy, and they proved enthusiastic and willing partners. As this was the first project run by Cheshire for a number of years we limited participation to 20 students.
On the start day of the project all 20 students were waiting at the school gates in Runcorn at 0800hrs. No parents or other family members were in evidence. They were transported in by the academy, and the activities commenced at Nesscliffe training camp at 1000hrs and followed the suggested itinerary of One Star cadet type training.
The next day we left the camp for a 10k hike around the training area with packs and overnight kit. That night was spent in a barn-like building on the training area on sleeping mats and in sleeping bags. Once it was dark the sections were taken into a wooded area for a short night exercise and reacted extremely well. Almost total silence prevailed and they carried out the drills they had been taught earlier in an exemplary manner. It was one of the first high spots of the programme.
The next day we packed up and moved out of Nesscliffe to our camp site in Fairbourne which is near Barmouth in North Wales for the Adventure Training activity. This commenced after lunch on Wednesday and concluded at Lunchtime Friday. The gorge walking which I observed was an extremely challenging activity carried out in wetsuits and helmets down a demanding and fast flowing river, culminating in a river slide to the edge of a large waterfall. It was very exciting and quite demanding, but everyone completed the course. It was at this stage the first real signs of teamwork began to emerge with the stronger more capable participants assisting those less able. This was followed by their first night in tents and cooking their own meals.
The following day the group were broken into three sections and completed a full day’s activities at the AT organisations private quarry. These activities included a slate mine exploration, with a commentary from the guide on life for the miners, which was quite enthralling and captured the imagination of most of the children. Another group went abseiling and the third group went rock climbing. These activities switched every hour or so and everyone had the opportunity to participate in each activity. The day culminated in a ZIP wire descent from a 30m cliff face into the middle of the lake inside the quarry. This proved very popular and everyone including the cadets and instructors participated. That evening there was a BBQ meal prepared quite professionally by a chef loaned to us for the day by my old Regiment (156 NW Tpt Regt RLC) This was very successful and gave everyone a chance to relax and enjoy an evening off. One thing I noticed during the BBQ was that although it was raining quite heavily everyone seemed happy to sit outside to chat and enjoy each other’s company around the picnic tables.
The final day was a re-run of the mountain biking/gorge walking package and once more seemed to be enjoyed by all.
We hope to visit the academy again soon for a reunion, during which we will present a slide show to the parents and carers of the participants, and issue OCN certificates.