Thursday, 18 August 2016

Summer is almost over!

Hi All,

It’s been a busy couple of months here at Adventure Plus! I for one have really enjoyed spending a summer in the sunshine delivering fun to people all over the country. Ashburnham Place became like a second home for some of us who seemed to spend more time there than we did at Windmill Farm. I’ll always keep hold of memories of time spent there running activities, late night swimming in the lake and the amazing hot chocolate!

Total Adventure Holidays are over for another year and preparations are already underway for ‘TA Reunion’ in a couple of months, ‘TA Ski’ in February and the other holidays throughout the year.
Now things are beginning to quieten down again, we see a lot more of the office team again. It has been nice to catch up with everyone here and find out what’s been going on with them.

The year is almost over for the gap year team and that means change is coming for everyone which is really exciting! Some of us will be moving on from Adventure Plus very soon, and for others a second year as part of the team is just around the corner… Those who are staying will be taking on new roles and responsibilities which I’m sure you’ll be able to hear about in upcoming blog posts.
Life to the Max! 

So, in our last couple of weeks as the 2015/16 Distil team we have a few more events, a handful of days sleeping in our own beds and a short time to relax before we finish off the year with our Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition next week! No sooner than we return home from the expedition we’ll be moving out of our rooms and making space for next year’s Gap Team who arrive on the 27th of this month.

Stay tuned to hear all about the DofE expedition as well as personal posts from the team about the year they’ve had!

I have really enjoyed coordinating the Blogs over the last few months. Thanks for supporting us by reading them,


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Total Adventure Week One.


Last week Distil members Ben and myself, as well as several members of Adventure Plus staff and volunteers, got together for the first week of Total Adventure! The week began on Sunday afternoon when all the leaders got together for a training day; we all got to know each other and got everything ready for the week ahead. We concluded the day with an amazing meal of curry and poppadoms.

The campers arrived early the next morning full of energy and anticipation. Once everyone had arrived the leaders had a chance to present an ‘advert’ for their activity in order to sell it to the campers and show them a little bit of what they might get up to in each activity. For me this involved getting covered in paint and water!

Once everyone had signed up we moved onto ‘It’s a Knockout’ challenge which allowed the campers to get to know their dorm groups during a series of team games. Then after a well-deserved lunch, it was time for afternoon activities. Emily C and I were lucky enough to be heading up Arts and Crafts so had a relaxing afternoon of that followed by band practice while the campers had ‘chill time.’ Next was a delicious dinner cooked by the Windmill Farm team followed by the Roadshow. The Roadshow was the highlight of the day, led by Simon and Dave and full of fun. It included hilarious games, the dorm challenge, worship songs and a talk from JP on this year’s theme ‘Space’, looking at the greatness of God. Once the Roadshow was over we split into out dorm groups for some time to reflect and talk about what we’d heard. In my dorm we got to know each other a bit better and shared stories, everyone had a chance to ask questions and give answers. The final part of the day was a game of Barnyard Scramble on the field before heading to bed.
Letter grid is challenging.. 

Robot Wars. 


The next morning we filled ourselves with breakfast in preparation for a full day of activities! Then some people headed to the river for kayaking and canoeing, some went on a bike ride, others headed to the copse for a bushcraft session and the rest spent the morning doing a mixture of archery, circus skills, playing dobble and eating biscuits! After lunch there were more activities followed by dinner and then it was back into the Roadshow. There we were joined by Graham who gave his exciting testimony which really got the campers thinking about the amazing things that God does in ordinary people’s lives.


Getting Arty.

Wednesday was ‘D’day,’ something that the campers look forward to every year, the whole day revolved around this year’s theme ‘space.’ It began with Dave and Simon explaining that the world had been invaded by cows and that we needed to evacuate our beloved planet and mooove on to pastures new. As the day unfolded and became more and more crazy teams built space ships, raced their space ships, played a unique and elaborated version of Barnyard scramble which became ‘Planetizer,’ went on a treasure hunt and finally battled the cows in a game of sock blizzard. D’day was a lot of fun which continued into the evening with a barbecue and the Roadshow around the campfire.

Ready to play Blizzard!


Thursday was the last full day and involved another full programme of activities and the now familiar evening routine. However after dorm time that evening it was time for ‘TAs got talent!’ Several acts took to the stage to impress the audience and make everyone laugh; one of the highlights of the evening was a special appearance from Ben who gave everyone a taste of his hidden talent which turned out to be operatic singing
Ready for action. 


Fun on the water!

Friday came around all too quickly but even though it was the last day it was full of fun. The morning was spent doing more activities and in the afternoon we had a final Roadshow and ‘Court in the Act’ during which campers could accuse fellow campers and leaders of bad things they had done throughout the week and watch as they received their punishments. After the Roadshow came to an end we spent the end of the day in our dorm groups before saying goodbye.
TA group photo!
My first experience of a Total Adventure Holiday was really great and I can’t wait to be part of it next year. Thanks for reading this week’s blog, come back next week and find out what went on the second week of TA! 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Long time no blog...

Hello readers! 

Sorry its been a while since you last heard from me and the rest of the DisTIL team! We’ve been super busy and away from home a lot, and therefore we’ve not really had time to blog… So let me tell you what we’ve been up to over the past couple of weeks.

Firstly, a residential Kingham Primary School at Windmill Farm. Over the course of two days we walked, climbed, did some archery, some bushcraft, played team games and ate a lot of good food. 

Over two weeks ago now most of the DisTIL team as well as Rachel, JP, Ben Biscoe, Simon, and Dave Waters headed up to Quinta for the Batt School residential where I've heard they had a lot of fun and enjoyed food cooked by Charles and Grace all week.

Meanwhile Ben O, Josh and I were at Ashburnham for a shorter residential with year five and six from London Christian School. These were a really good couple of days, with a much smaller group of kids that we were able to get to know and see develop over the course of the residential. One of the best things about this job is getting to see the change that happens when children spend an intense amount of time with each other in an environment that isn't school, as they learn independence and become better at team work. 
Improving team work on the group skis. 

The next residential was Kent College, we were back at Ashburnham with a group of year sevens from an all girls school. This group definitely had a different dynamic to a lot of the other groups we have worked with recently. The week was busy but surprisingly relaxed and turned out to be my favourite residential so far… despite being tipped into the river by group A and their teacher! The weather was really nice for most of the week and the Kent College girls always managed to find time to get some of our team to join in with their gymnastics on the lawn. 
Low ropes. 
The weekend disappeared in a flash and we found ourselves back at Ashburnham for the final school residential of the academic year with Swindon Academy. This much livelier bunch definitely kept us on our toes and the week was set to be very different from the previous one. Nevertheless fun was had by everyone in all of the activities. As well as our typical sessions of canoeing, archery, low ropes and biking the week also involved a water fight, wild swimming, various wide games, hunt the leader and Swindon Academy’s very own music festival. The music festival was a highlight for many especially due to Adventures Plus’ very special performance of ‘Where is the Love?’ This week was also tainted with sadness as it was James’ last event with us, but he most definitely went out with a blast having delivered a jam packed week of fun! 
Chilled end to a busy week. 
Be sure to come back soon and check out the posts from the first week of Total Adventure and read all about what we’re getting up to there! 


Friday, 1 July 2016

Kingham Primary School 2016.

This week we welcomed Year 5 from Kingham Primary School. They arrived on Wednesday morning with faces full of smiles and a lot of energy. We started the day with introductions from the A+ staff contingent and then the class split into their teams. Each team got issued a pair of instructors who would stay with them for each of the activities over the two days. This was good for us because we got to build up really great relationships with our group and got to see how they developed over the course of their residential.
The first activity was Icebreakers and Team Games. Ben O and I started with ‘gutterball’ and the initial impression we had was that our team members were going to learn a lot about teamwork from us! After a hectic morning of getting to know each other it was time for a delicious and nutritious lunch.
The afternoon involved different activities for everyone. We began with ‘hiking’ which meant a short walk around Clanfield. Some were satisfied enough by the walk alone while others found extra joy and excitement from walking through many of the muddy puddles. When we got back to Windmill Farm our group moved into the Sports Hall to take on the climbing wall.
After another well-deserved meal it was time for a campfire with songs and marshmallows followed by bed! We got to sleep in our own beds for a relaxing change while the group camped out in the field. Thankfully the thunderstorm that had been anticipated never showed its face!
The next morning we met up for breakfast and prepared for another day of adventurous fun. Our first activity was bushcraft so we split the team into two smaller groups and set them off to build their own shelters. After just a day together they were already working much better as a team. After the shelters were built and the team work reviewed we moved onto building mini fires. Everyone was willing to help each other out by offering advice and tips which was really great to see!
The next activity of the morning was archery which again saw great team work as well as little bit of everyone’s competitive streak. Archery is always a really good activity to see children develop in and improve with at every turn they have.  We then had lunch and thanked Matt for the amazing food he’d prepared over the two days. Following lunch we headed out to our final activity of the residential which for us was tricky trail. Ben headed up the course while I had the pleasure of teaching one girl to ride a bike! This, for me, was the true highlight of the two days!

Then the end of the day came around all too quickly and it was time to say goodbye!

Thanks for reading, 

Friday, 24 June 2016

St John's Hampton Wick 2016

Last Friday afternoon Emily, Ben O, Simon and I travelled to ‘St John’s Hampton Wick,’ a church in London, to run activities for their youth adventure weekend. We worked with 30 children, most of whom were in junior school and a few who were a bit older.
Trick trail on day 2.
Some serious biking. 
When we arrived we set up a few team games before joining the group for a dinner of hot dogs, fruit kebabs and much more. Once fed we ran the team games on a circuit in an attempt to tire out the youngsters before bed… but in actual fact I think we ended up more tired out ourselves! We then moved on to the house of the very hospitable Helen and Hamish Leighton where we spent the night; we were welcomed with open arms and treated to cheese and crackers, exotic juices and more.

Bright and early the next morning we headed back to the church where we were joined by Marc, Jon, Matt Wareham and Lucy Downer. We made our packed lunches and set up the activities for the day. Emily and I were running fencing, Matt and Marc ran tricky trail while Ben and Simon were on the climbing wall and Jon and Lucy were running sessions in the big canoe. Each group rotated around the activities and had a fun-fuelled day, even our last group managed to stay focused for a fencing session even if we had to end the day with a few games of sleeping lions to calm everybody (including Emily) down.
Sleeping Lions.. to the extreme.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Hollie's work experience.

Last week there was an addition to the team, Hollie joined us for a week of work experience, Here's what she had to say...

"I started my experience last Tuesday following a day of rest as I had just done a DofE expedition the weekend before, and a large amount of the Adventure Plus team were not on site the Monday. So on Tuesday morning I came in and met a lot of the team and joined them for ‘morning thought’ and prayer.

As Margaret was giving me a tour of the site Simon kindly offered for me to go with him and JP on a bike recce around a track in Shotover, to check that it was all okay for a later event. I really enjoyed going out and participating in an activity (even though I was knackered by the end of it!) Once we had arrived back on site Simon let me use the pressure hose to wash down the bikes because part of the track was extremely muddy. As the day went on in the afternoon I sat through a meeting and listened to how the team prepared for future events which was a good insight on how AdventurePlus works. Over the next couple of days I helped out with different practical jobs like cleaning up the shed where the equipment is kept and steam cleaning fencing equipment.

This week there were not many events or activities at A+ that I could help out with, so it was not the best week to do work experience. Despite this I felt like I learnt a lot about how the events were set up, how the organisation is run, and I really enjoyed my time. Everyone was so friendly and I would highly recommend that people who are interested in sports and activities consider doing their work experience here. 


Thanks for reading today's blog, come back soon to find out more of what's been going as things continue to get busier here at Adventure Plus! 


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

School Trips UK '16

Last week, James and the DisTIL team as well as JP, Rachel and Ben Biscoe headed to Ashburnham for ‘School Trips UK’ - an event with pupils aged 10-12, from an international school who were visiting England for the week.  We were there for 2 days to provide a range of activities and have loads of fun! After lunch and Ben Biscoe’s birthday celebrations on Monday, a van left Windmill Farm filled with kit, the scooter and five keen instructors and set off on the journey to Ashburnham followed a few hours later by a car containing the rest of us.

After dinner (priorities) we went about setting up the activities for the following morning. Once everything was done there was time to relax and prepare for the busy days ahead. For Ben Biscoe this meant a birthday swim while some of us settled for a hot chocolate (which pretty much comes out of a tap!!) and bed.

Life started early on Tuesday morning with a brief from James followed by breakfast with the group, who needed a bit of convincing about English food. Once filled and fuelled we headed to our activities.  For Ben and I this meant Tricky Trail (biking) while Rachel and Marc were heading up Archery. Ben Biscoe, Emily and Claire were on the lake and JP was leading Fencing whilst James ran Low Ropes.
Fun on the water!
We ran 1½hr sessions with a short break in between while the groups rotated around the activities. From what I heard, everyone’s sessions went well throughout the day and even though it was super busy, everyone had fun. It was great to work with a few different groups throughout the day all of which were really diverse. It was a new challenge to instruct through a language barrier but also came as a massive confidence boost.  I really enjoyed running Tricky Trail, which for those of you who don’t know, is a bike obstacle course; it’s always rewarding to see people progress each time they ride around the trail.
Low Ropes.
After a well-deserved dinner, the team headed down to the Low Ropes course. James wanted to show us all how it worked so while he did this we all had a go.  Then with the rest of the evening to spare, some of us decided to go for a swim in the lake. It had been really hot all day so this was a great chance to cool off.
Wednesday morning came around and it was all go again. There was no Kayaking or Fencing so Ben  helped James on Low Ropes and JP was free to scoot around (literally) and take photos. The rest of us returned to the activities which we had run the day before. The weather was hot and sunny again and everyone was in high spirits. Ben and I ran alternating sessions of Tricky Trail and, with every group that we led we felt a bit more confident instructing and learnt to be more flexible with the children and adapting the session to suit them.
Patiently waiting to take on the tricky trail course!

In the final sessions of the day, we used the remainders of our energy. Ben blitzed around the Tricky Trail course on foot, followed by JP on the scooter (he stacked it meters from the end,) I was chased by some children who had a lot more energy than I did and then we said our goodbyes and the sessions were over.

The car headed home first while the rest of us packed down our activities then we too hit the road!

Au Revoir, Adios, Ciao, Auf Weidersehen, Goodbye. 

Thanks for reading,