Monday, 18th July

And so closes the second sunny Monday at camp with more excitement than ever! The return to the dodgeball pitch had been greatly anticipated over the weekend and certainly did not disappoint. 

Our budding creatives took on the plasticine legacy of Morph by illustrating a backdrop for a stop motion film, creating figures alongside. Imaginations were running at the fast-paced speed of the tutors in dodgeball, and some super storylines were born. Imagination cannot be contained, and neither could our student’s creative genius. Even Freddie Mercury (’Queen’ star) complete with a malleable drum set made an appearance!! One could say they are the Champions!! 

Marco Polo? No. Water Polo! The swimming pool got to see some fast pace activity as water polo took over its depths. The children shed their mammalian skins and became one with the fishes as they streamlined through the water, scoring goal after goal. Great teamwork and competitive spirit saw a close leader board with only 2 points difference at the end of the match.

After awaiting years, months, and long-awaited hours, 

the big day finally arrived….the Open Minds camp out. The students were asked to prepare life stories relaying turning points in their lives, initiating their analytical thinking of their own experiences and sharing them within a safe space. Fingers crossed for their camp out tonight in the Yorkshire countryside, I hope they packed marshmallows!!

The children rode off into the sunset (or rather the picturesque blue skies of Bedale) atop the backs of Snowy and Flash as horse riding seasons began. The children washed and trotted atop the horses, many of our children displaying a true affinity for the animal treating them with consideration and kindness. 

The super duper extreme huge mega camp-wide water fight fought the intense 30°+ heat. The children were armed with weaponry in the form of water balloons, and course the water guns that they picked up in York. Forts were preconstructed with tactics in mind and sticks in hand as the teams strived to protect their flags with their lives (and their dry clothes). As the teams were drawn up, the head grew. ‘Go to Jail’ cards were pulled as the children were arrested for their water-based crime, and the afternoon was capped with a soaking of our beloved (and now soggy) tutors. 

The fun continued as open minds headed for their expedition, leaving the other campers to another round of icebreaker activities. Tug of war tested old rivalries, muscles and the iron-fist grip of the students as they beat the camp tutors in strength and arguably passion for their win. Iconic as this was, we cannot forget the Bin Bag Fashion show that rivalled the catwalks of Paris and New York, gracing L & E with its sass. Special mention to Bin-Bag-Batman came to stunt his style on the grassy stage, earning bronze on the podium.

Tuesday 19th July

Starting off the hottest day in UK with a dodgeball fight, the campers quickly got warmed up and ready for the day ahead. Nearing the end of both consecutive matches, Michael the last one standing in the court today. His quick reflexes proved amazing in dodging the unrelenting balls showered by the opposite teams. After that, we finished the rounds of dodgeball fights off with an ultimate round of staff versus campers.

We were happy to welcome Scuba Steve back today to lead everyone in sessions of scuba diving throughout the day for adventure. With the campers’ expertise from the session last week, not only did they have fun with scuba diving, but they also engaged in an exciting game of underwater frisbee.

Alongside scuba diving, the campers also had a choice of sports or creative. In the morning, the campers participated in a competitive game of badminton and volleyball for sports. For creative, they had the opportunity to make their own stop motions. Some of the campers made models that were out of this world (literally!). A remarkable one out of many was a star wars themed model of the galaxy.

Afterwards, the campers actively took part in a game of bench-ball in the afternoon for sports. They were split into three teams and the winning team could stay on and continue playing in the next round. Athletic talents shone through as the campers all charged quickly for the ball at the start of the game, before passing the ball with great aim to their teammates. Soon, the teammates began filling up the benches, signalling another step nearer to victory.

In preparation for the campfire in the evening, the campers prepared songs and performances in the afternoon creative session. Campers learnt how to play the ukulele for the first time and practiced hard for a captivating performance of Riptide. Around the campfire, some campers joined in with their lovely vocals and sang along to the song.

In addition, we also had a multitude of other performances from the campers. A camper performed a magic trick, some performed their national anthem, while our newest camp leader- Kenny performed the campfire song “There are no bananas in the sky”. As words were taken out one by one, it was a laugh to hear some people accidentally blurting out the word while everyone else silently did the action only. Of course, seeing that we had a campfire, we ended the night with highly anticipated campfire marshmallows and hot chocolate.

After such a busy day, the campers quickly headed up to bed for a night of well deserved rest, recharging for another action-packed day tomorrow.

Wednesday 20th July

After a marvellous British breakfast of muffins, marmite and muesli our campers made their way to the day’s first (and arguably biggest) event, the morning dodgeball, with one big question on their mind – could they beat the staff again. In 2004, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal went 49 games undefeated. Over the span of two decades the undertaker went 21 times undefeated at Wrestlemania. Yet today, after 8 imperious performances, our campers’undefeated streak came to an end. Celebration and jubilation filled the air like a choir of angels, and we moved onto a thrilling selection of morning activities.

Our tennis group were treated to a coaching session with Kenny, our resident tennis pro from down under, impressing him with their positive attitudes and commitment to the game. The team of future tennis stars worked on their technique through some classic crowd-pleasing games, including Jail Break and King of the Court, before engaging in a high-paced final tournament. 

The Open Minds groups, refreshed and invigorated after a night in their own beds following their wilderness experience under the stars, returned to the classroom to begin work on their final project. The class spent the morning reflecting on their time on the Open Minds course before selecting an area of focus for their project and beginning the initial research and creative planning stage. 

Over in creative the campers had a meditative morning, collecting materials from the natural environment to create some beautiful dream catchers that were then hung up in the campers’ dorms to add a personal touch to their living space. 

Once, twice, three times a kayak. That’s right, demand was so huge today that we did a triple adventure session over the course of the day. Marauding down the local waterway proved to be a supersonic hit with our camper crew – perhaps we’ve seen the beginning of the next generation of Steve Redgrave’s and Katherine Grainger’s take to the water!

Roast lunch on a Wednesday – we are a wacky bunch here in Aysgarth! After a lunch that was devoured by all it was all roads ahead to an amazing afternoon.

Take everything you’ve ever known about frisbee – scrunch it up, and chuck it in the bin. For this afternoon in sport, frisbee turned ultimate. Flying discs soaring into an end zone. Team work, camaraderie and a fantastic sense of fun were the recipe for a joyous afternoon of activity.

Across campus, our creative campers headed over to the theatre to tread the boards. The group had a go at some improvisational drama activities to hone their skills before creating a full scene in groups using a selection of stimuli. Feeling empowered after their turn on the stage, the group decided to form one super group to create a full mini-play to debut at the famous L&E Oscar’s night. 

After such a hectic day, an evening activity of popcorn and a movie was a great chance for a well-earned rest. The campers were treated to a showing of ‘Free Guy’ in preparation for an exciting videogame themed night of team challenges tomorrow

Thursday 21st July

It was a slightly sleepy start for the campers as they near the end of their second fun filled week at L&E. For many campers it was their penultimate day and, keen to end the week on a winning streak, the group came back fighting after their defeat in dodgeball at the hands of the staff on the previous morning. Today’s round of dodgeball had a competitive edge about it as one could see the vast improvements in our campers’ skills in dodging, ducking, dipping, diving and dodging. The young ones triumphed convincingly as it was clear to everyone that the tutors’ bodies could not maintain high performance for a second day. 

Football, kite making and climbing were the activities of the morning. Just like the dodgeball, the football session was a feisty affair. The international make-up of the group lent itself to the eclectic tactics on display; there was gegenpressing, tiki-taka and some good old fashioned route-one from the English contingent. The kite-making activity challenged our pupils to combine their resourcefulness with their design skills as they were tasked with finding materials within the campgrounds. Unfortunately, the light summer breeze was not conducive for kite flying but that only encouraged innovative thinking as some campers improvised with skateboards to create the necessary momentum to get their kites high in the sky. The morning’s climbers scaled the most challenging routes on offer, impressing the instructor and camp coordinator. The afternoon climbing group exhibited similar bravery, working hard to overcome their fears and encouraging one another through the final abseil. 

Baking headlined the afternoon activities with all the available places taken up by our avid bakers. Cupcakes were the order of the day and were decorated in a variety of ways; some reflected passions of the pupils, while some took the opportunity to gift them to others with special messages written in icing. Some tutors were the lucky recipients of the tasty treats and were able to really sample the culinary talents of our group. 

In the afternoon creative group, other campers worked hard in preparation for the weekly theme night. This week’s theme of videogames was a hit with all the campers, many of whom showcased their carefully designed costumes. Some of the kids dressed as characters from Team Fortress 2, Mario Kart and Minecraft to create quite the spectacle around the camp grounds. They were then confronted with a circuit of six different videogame related challenges which required collaboration and quick thinking – qualities not in short supply with this cohort. Even as the weather took a turn for the worse, those involved did not let the rain dampen their spirits as they endeavoured to finish all the outdoor tests. 

After the game was finished, campers retired to the dining hall for chats and hot chocolate before bed. Clear bonds have formed between our group over the past two weeks, and as the end ofthe L&E journey nears, many pupils took this opportunity to reflect on the new friendships they have made with one another. With the final day ahead our pupils looked forward to building on their new friendships and experiences.

Friday 22nd July

A fantastic final day for us at camp! The campers started their day with dodgeball, but to the staffs dismay we lost in the campers vs staff match. 

Our morning activities consisted a creative session baking some delicious cakes and decorating them to our hearts content! Being able to explore recipes and express themselves through the icing process, we sure weren’t short of sprinkles! In sports we had a great session doing the “Cha Cha Cha” and other dances which we could use on the dance floor! In adventure we did some archery that allowed us to practise our precision skills and learn something new while enhancing our coordination and strength. 

In open minds the groups took centre stage and presented their short films to the rest of the class. We were absolutely transfixed on the amazing debates and different mature discussions around topics taking into account different perspectives. 

As you can see the children may have worked up a spectacular appetite, but our lovely chefs cooked up a feast of fish and chips for us for lunch, followed by delectable delights of fajitas for dinner. 

After such a action packed morning we were followed by a full afternoon. The baking made such a egg-celent hit in the morning, we had to run a second session in the afternoon to fill the demand! Following this we had our world famous triathlon; which consisted of the group completing a swim further than the river nile, the craziest obstacle course one would ever see, and a run around the track to win gold! Congratulations to everyone who participated. 

To end our evening we had our Oscars awards evening, which was full of tears, laughter and goodbyes, but with friendships for a lifetime. We have had some amazing and well-deserved winners over the past week and it was an honour to nominate and award everyone for their efforts on making camp what it’s supposed to be! A place where we can all be and enjoy ourselves. After our awards we had a disco which was class, and went down with a bang! We had all the famous tunes which were played by the biggest DJ around, followed by some spectacular dancing which made the night. 

Although we are incredibly sad to see our group go, we wish them all the best for the future and maybe we will see them one day again soon!