13th – 20th August
Twenty two very excited children and young people from all around the country arrived at Bendrigg lodge for a fun filled week of adventurous activities. For some it was their first time away with Phab and it was a chance to make new friends, learn new skills and spend some independent time away from their parents and carers.
That evening we threw ourselves straight into the activities and set off on a walk along the pretty country lanes where we stopped to look at the cows, sheep and horses and take in some of the amazing scenery.
The next day we split into three activity groups to help reduce waiting times and this also gave us the opportunity to have a full day on each activity so we could really get involved.
The caving group set off to the nearby Yorkshire Dales to explore a cave called Yordas. Legend has it that a giant once lived in the cave and although we saw his pantry, chair and shower, we didn’t get to meet him! Some of the children decided to make the most of his shower and walked right underneath the huge waterfall which was at the back of the cave and then they squeezed through the tiny gap to return to the main chamber – a very brave bunch!
That evening we had fun at the Bendrigg Lodge site where we whizzed down the tube slide, tackled the assault course and got sporty in the sports hall.
On the Monday it was time to try our hand at climbing and abseiling. Bendrigg Lodge has the most amazing climbing wall and it wasn’t long before everyone had reached the top. There are lots of different routes to try with ever increasing difficulty and it was fantastic to see the children challenge themselves and put so much effort into each task. Once we had all got to the top the only way was down – via the abseil! It is a daunting task to put so much trust in the people around you and lower yourself over such a long drop down!
After lunch we headed for the very popular zip wire and there were screams of excitement that echoed over the Lake District mountains! Being an adventurous group we didn’t finish there and decided to tackle Bendi Beam – a huge log which you must balance on to reach and ring the bell at the summit Everyone had a go and there were some fantastic Superman leaps from the top!
On Tuesday we headed for Happy Mount Park in Morecambe where we played crazy golf, got wet in the splash park, played football and enjoyed a lovely picnic and ice-creams. That afternoon we went tenpin bowling and then had a very breezy walk along the front to find a beach to eat our fish and chips. It was a lovely evening so we spent lots of time building sandcastles, flying kites, hunting for crabs and paddling. By the time we returned to Bendrigg Lodge everyone was exhausted and it was very quiet in the bedrooms by 9.30pm!
Canoeing on Windermere Lake was the order of the day on Wednesday. The team set off to Ferry Nab to launch their boats and set off to an island where they ate a picnic and had a treasure hunt. After leaving the island we paddled off to Bowness where ice creams are a must and we sat overlooking the lake eating our cones topped with chocolate – delicious! After a bit more paddling it was time to see who was brave enough to go for a swim and it appeared that almost everyone was! It was great fun jumping off the jetty and the water was surprisingly warm!
That evening we got creative with the potter’s wheel where we had a go at making bowls, jugs and other interesting items.
Thursday was the Olympic team challenge day where we all took part in a range of tasks to win points for our teams. We dropped balls into canoes from the zip wire, went orienteering, hunted for treasure in the indoor cave and hit the targets in archery. After lunch we organised some silly games such as Human Hungry Hippos, a donut eating challenge, a blindfolded hoopla game and the very funny Wotsit challenge in which a member of the Phab volunteer team gets covered in shaving foam so their team members can throw Wotsit style crisps at them and gain a point for each one that sticks! Very silly but brilliant fun!
Friday was Options Day where everyone got to choose which activity they would like to try. Some of the group went to the challenging ghyll scramble where they climbed up three waterfalls to reach the top. Others enjoyed a kayaking session or a trip to the local farm where we fed the calves and lambs. That afternoon there was a chance to swim in the outdoor pool at Ingleton or have another go at some of the activities on site.
In the evening we got dressed up in our Olympic fancy dress costumes and danced the night away! It had been a great week with some impressive achievements which were recognised at our awards ceremony.
When it came to saying goodbye there were a few tears and some very proud children and I am sure it will be an experience they will never forget.