When? November 2018, Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.
Where? The Lake District Calvert Trust
Who? 2 group leaders from 9 different schools or organisations
Why? To give the group leaders an insight into how our centre, instructors and courses operate; an opportunity to ‘try before you buy’!
What? The weekend included accommodation for 2 nights, full board meals, 3 taster activity sessions with our instructors, question and answer session, site tour and facilities familiarisation.
How? Read on…
We move the boundaries that define the word success and tailor success to each individual, providing the sense of personal achievement.
We put the weather order in for the weekend: dry and sunny and it delivered! 18 keen teachers and group organisers made their way to our Centre, to be welcomed at 6pm for a 3-course meal in our dining room. Following an introduction to the Centre and the weekend ahead, the group settled in to their rooms for the following day’s adventures.
A hearty breakfast was had, before the group was split into two groups with the day’s instructors. One group opted for the on-site High Ropes course, the other, opted for the accessible cycling activity. I joined the cycling group, and left the ‘High Ropers’ in the capable hands of our instructors Rob and Jane.
The purpose of the weekend was to show the group leaders who were unfamiliar with the Calvert Trust, not just what we do, but almost more importantly, how we do it.
How do we get a transferable chair-user into a canoe and remain safe and comfortable? How do we address a group of school kids with diverse special needs? How are dietary requirements of a group met? How does someone cycle with limited use of their legs?
These are just some of the questions that we were hoping to address, and to give those unfamiliar with what we do, how and why we can do it!
After a 40 minute drive, we landed at the accessible cycle centre at Watchtree – a nature reserve. Nick, our instructor showed us our own fleet of cycles stored in our own lock-up. Without listing the whole fleet (come for yourself and have a look!) we sampled most of the bikes on offer, from hand-bikes, dual recumbents, KMCs (fast and fun single-seat recumbents) and wheelchair-adaptable bikes. The purpose was to see the range of bikes, see how accessible and adaptable each bike is, or can be, and what the instructor can do to suit each individual. On one recumbent for example, we have added foot straps which stop feet slipping off the pedals. Simple but effective.
Whilst we were whizzing around Watchtree, the other group were being shown the ropes (excuse the pun) on the High Ropes Course, in the grounds of the Centre.
Again, emphasis was based on how we include as many people as possible in the activity, work with the individual to build on their self-confidence and how disabilities can be overcome.
As noted throughout the weekend, it is the ‘soft-skills’ that our instructors use and have perfected over many years – skills that cannot be taught in a hurry! It is the manner and the way something is said and how it is delivered that is key.
After re-convening for lunch, we again were split into two groups for the afternoon’s sessions. I joined the canoeists down at our Boathouse on Bassenthwaite Lake, just over a mile away, and the other group headed into the Sports Hall for a Rock and Rope session.
The canoeing is a popular activity and until you have seen how accessible it is, you wouldn’t believe the methods and techniques that our instructors use to enable most people to take part and hence enjoy the experience. Again, the simple solutions are often the best ones – for example, the use of foam back rests to aid postural comfort; to aid stability, raft canoes together. Our instructors like to use the ‘hands-on’ approach too – getting everyone to make the raft as a part of the activity and to encouraging team-building (including school teachers which the pupils love!)
The Rock and Rope group in the sports hall demonstrated similar principles. We move the boundaries that define the word success and tailor success to each individual, providing the sense of personal achievement. For example, in a climbing wall success isn’t necessarily about getting to the top of the wall – it is setting a challenge that will push the individual’s ability with the end goal of providing a sense of personal achievement.
Following the activities of the day, the group enjoyed a 3-course meal, socialised in the Games room and some enjoyed time in the pool.
The following morning was very much the same theme – showing the group organisers a little more of what and how we do things – one group experienced the stables, archery and a bushcraft session; the other group tried out our wheelchair challenge course. An early lunch, with a Q and A session brought the weekend to a close, and we bid farewell.
Feedback from the weekend was excellent – with the aims achieved giving the group leaders the opportunity to try the activities and see the facilities first hand and alleviating any concerns that they may have had. It’s part of what we do. And we like to think we are quite good at it!
Paul, who helped organise the Introductory Weekend in November works in the Booking and Marketing office. Paul now is considering getting a KMC bike to commute to work on, based on the fun he had at Watchtree.
“Asif and Hannah are still talking about the weekend. They got so much from it. Thanks again.” Broadfield SEN School
“Just a quick email to say what a fabulous, informative night/day we have had. It has really helped me gain a true insight into what the students will experience and has really supported me with my planning for the trip.” Pendle Community High School
“Great weekend meeting all of our aims and easing any fears which will enable us to book!” Piper Hill School
The next Introductory Weekend we are scheduled to run will be Friday 15th to Sunday 17th November 2019.
For further information, please click here or call 017687 72255 to book your place.
Thanks to all who visited and took part in the weekend, namely:
Whizz Kidz from London
Isebrook SEN College from Northamptonshire
Pendle Community High School from Lancashire
Walton Hall Academy from Staffordshire
Woodhey High School from Lancashire
Broadfield SEN School from Lancashire
Piper Hill High School from Manchester
MENCAP from Nottinghamshire
Meadows School in the West Midlands