With the help of a very generous grant from the Grange Farm Trust, the Epping Forest Sportability Club were able to take a number of members away for an activity weekend at the Queen Elizabeth 2 Activity Centre, near Southampton, at the start of the summer holidays.
We left Oak View School on Friday lunchtime in a mini-bus, kindly lent to us for the weekend by Oak View. Despite some terrible traffic, our Head Coach and driver Alan got us safely to the QE2 Activity Centre so that we had time to settle in and have an evening meal.
Between us, we shared three cabins. Alan was in charge of the main cabin hosting the older boys as well as Pete and Ashley. Candee was in charge of the “ladies” cabin and Andy was in charge of the cabin with the younger boys in it. A heavily-pregnant Candee was Head Chef for the weekend and provided wonderful meals each day.
The main purpose of the weekend was to take part in some activities that are not normally available to us. These activities were led by the centre’s own staff, Kim and Graham, who looked after us all weekend.
One of the first activities we did was a team building exercise. We split into two teams and played a few games to help build up our team work. It culminated in the teams building a go-kart each and then having some races. As usual with Alan, it got a little bit competitive but everyone had lots of fun and learnt to tie some knots along the way. By the end of the races the go-karts almost fell apart on their own.
After a break for refreshments, it was onto the next activity which was Forest Craft. We were taught how to cut wood properly and then build a fire safely using just a flint (no lighters or matches!). Once we had a roaring camp fire going, we were able to toast some marshmallows whilst also being taught how to use a branding iron to carve our initials in the wood that we had cut earlier.
After lunch, it was down to the river for kayaking. It was a lovely day and a beautiful setting to be on the river. One half of the group went on a boat ride while the other half paired off and got into the kayaks. After much splashing between boats, we did manage to paddle quite a way up the river! We then swapped around so that the kayakers went on the boat and those that had been on the boat had a chance to learn to kayak.
In the evening we used the centre’s kitchen and dining area for our dinner and some of the children played indoor bowls while others relaxed and chatted.
On Sunday, after breakfast, it was the low ropes and the zip wire. Again we split into two teams to tackle each activity. The low ropes we did as a team going around the course, including some tunnels; the zip wire, we took in turns with everyone having a couple of runs. There were also a couple of games to play that tested both team work and problem solving such as getting a ball around a hanging wooden maze by tilting it between the team members.
Our last activities before we left for home were in the centre doing archery and the climbing wall. The climbing wall got progressively harder with each climb but everyone had a go and did really well. The archery started with instruction but ended with a competition to see who could get the highest score. This included not only a standard target but also a hanging target that was swaying as you tried to hit it. I think that by the end of the session Robin Hood had some new recruits!
Overall the weekend was a fantastic experience for all involved. The facilities and staff at the QE2 Activity Centre were marvellous and everyone had a really great time.
Visit the QE2 Activity Centre website.
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Epping Forest Sportability Club is a multi-sports club for young people with mild to moderate physical and learning difficulties.