A while back adventure training seemed to take its cue from the military and the instructors gave the impression of itching to wear khaki; now, happily, it is very different and the gentle-spirited instructors taking our Block 3s at the Outward Bound Centre in Ullswater are far more likely to want to enlighten their students about the homeopathic qualities of a particular plant we encounter on our walk to our campsite at the Patterdale end of Ullswater than to inculcate the martial spirit. In the venn diagram of teachers and instructors they overlap the eco-warrior rather than the paratrooper, which is fitting, given that we are enjoying the landscape that inspired Wordsworth and it is a pleasantly pacific place. Not that there isn’t plenty of physical and mental challenge, but it is done through quiet encouragement without a whiff of compulsion. Maybe unsurprisingly, virtually all of our Block 3s want to climb that trapeze or leap in the lake without much prompting, so the competitive spirit thrives but it is from within. For me and one eager young black Labrador, Zazu (the Westie Ailsa, feeling her years, stays at home), it provides an opportunity to see how the various groups of Block 3s fare. It is the mixing/mucking in/getting to know each other week par excellence. Camping is a highlight: sitting by my tent overlooking Ullswater, one hardy group is “bivvying” (so, covered from the worst of the rain but very much in the fresh air) and the other are more securely tucked up, I think that there are few better places to be. After we have packed up our camp and are all ready to walk back to the pick up point, the instructor asks each one of the students to go to a different part of the stunning area of ancient woodland that we have been occupying and to spend the last ten minutes of our time there, sitting, looking and thinking. Wordsworth would be nodding his approval.
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.