Tuesday, 21 February 2017

TA Ski 2017!

This week we welcomed home our skiers! Read about their exciting week on the slopes here:

Our Total Adventure Ski this year was quite special, one of the reasons being, unlike other years, none of our vans broke down! We set off on Friday the 10th at 18:30 and arrived in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland at 15:30 the next day.

Sunday was our first day skiing. Those who had been skiing before went off to do their own thing, whereas Jack and I went with the other inexperienced skiers in the group to be taught by Gold Hill Holidays. Skiing isn’t the only thing I learnt that day. I learnt that just because there is snow doesn’t mean that it is not hot you must drink plenty, because by the end of the day I had heatstroke and was out if it for the next day.
Tom on the slopes!

By day two Jack was quite confident. He managed to ace a blue run a couple of times. He was getting the hang of the parallel turns until one minor slip up cost him the rest of the week. Catching the ski on the snow he toppled over and landed on his shoulder re -breaking his collar bone that he broke back in October - but it did mean that he got to ride in the only Landrover ambulance in all of Switzerland! Despite such great efforts of breaking something, poor Jack did not win wipe-out of the day.

At the end of each day we have nominations to see who had the best wipe-out of the day (the biggest calamity). The winner has the privilege of wearing an embarrassing costume the next day consisting of a Ski Patrol jacket and a hula skirt. The Swiss do not understand our British ways, and we get many odd looks. Jon the boss man managed to win for the first time on day 4, so he decided to embarrass himself even more by playing the trombone down the slope. Who would expect to see that when they go out skiing?

Jon in the wipe-out outfit!

Day 3 and 4 everyone was really coming along - except for me. I managed to complete my first blue run (Blue is easy, red is medium and black is hard). Some of the younger ones were managing to complete black runs - Jack and I were really impressed. By day 5 I was really enjoying skiing. I realised that once I got the hang of it, it was an amazing sport, so I was regretting being a tourist instead of skiing on day 4. On day 5 we were skiing at Birg, just below the revolving restaurant and James Bond Museum. At lunch time a few of us decided to do the Skyline Walk which is a terrifying walkway on the side of the cliff with breathtaking views.

Don't look down!

In the evenings we had some life lessons and learned about God from our guest speaker Bill Prevette. Bill is an amazing guy and wanted to ski with everyone. We then split into groups and had some really good discussions whilst learning more about each other.

I think it’s fair to say everyone had a spectacular week, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. I hope you enjoyed reading about it – perhaps you might even want to join us next year?


Friday, 27 January 2017

Fencing Training!

For our DisTIL Team the training continues! A few weekends ago they had their fencing training here at Windmill Farm. Here are Tom’s thoughts about thegreat weekend they had:

On the 14 th and 15 th January, we welcomed a brilliant instructor from British Fencing so that we could become qualified fencing coaches - that’s not putting up fences but duelling with Foils (not rolls of kitchen foil but types of sword!).

A small group from Caldicott Xperience in Milton Keynes joined us for the whole time which made for a good range of attendees. We learned how to deliver a beginners fencing session as well as improving our own skills. It was all really fun and yet also really hot! After 5 minutes of fencing you want to be taking off your mask.

We got to know the guys from the other group and we all took a liking to the instructor’s Tesla (sports car). In the evening we all went out for dinner and got to know the guys from the other centre a bit more. It was lovely to get a chance to be ‘credible Christians’ with them.

On the second day we had more practice at delivering a beginners session and more time to improve our own skills. We also got to have a go at a different type of fencing called Sabre.

All in all we had a lot of fun and all managed to pass the training course.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Canoe and Kayak Training!

A couple of weeks ago some of the team went some canoe and kayaking training. Some have been on their Level 1 course and some on their Level 2 course. Here is what Tom and Marc have to say about their training!

Tom-Level 1:

Recently we (the DisTIL team) completed our Level 1 Canoe and Kayak coaching course. There were six of us altogether and two other groups from some other Christian outdoor centres, so we were able to make lots of new friends. We travelled down to Ashburnham Place (half an hour from Hastings) where we were greeted by the friendly staff there.

On day one of Level 1 we were thrown straight into the deep end …  literally! We started with exercises of all types varying from deep water rescues which involves getting out of the boat and getting back into it, to self-rescues and T-rescues where you fully capsize pull yourself back upright with the aid of another kayak. Most of us remained warm and dry as we used dry suits.

On day two we were taught about lessons and how to structure them by the three instructors. We all managed to learn something even though this was the coldest of the days. On the last two days we had lots of fun carrying out the lessons. A few people fell in and got quite cold but all in all many laughs were had.

Till next time, Tom Garry.

Marc- Level 2

The Second Years and Ben B had an exciting four days on our Level 2 paddle sport training at Ashburnham recently.

We left A+ the day before the course was due to happen and met up with our fellow trainees from Rock UK, The Caldecotte Xperience and an excellent freelance instructor called Stuart. Our course was mainly theory-based but we spent a couple of hours each day on the lake.

The course was primarily about learning the responsibilities and protocol needed to make the big step up from a Level 1 to a Level 2 coach. It was all pretty fascinating, but on the Thursday we took a break from all of that and headed down to Hastings beach to do some paddling in the English Channel.
Despite my frustrating thumb injury, I was excited to get one of the sea kayaks for the day, which was (in my opinion) better than the open canoeing. Five of us in single-manned sea boats headed a couple of kilometres out to sea to discuss navigating and group management skills on such open and wavy water.
The day was filled with networking with the canoeists, paddling around Hastings Pier and some rock hopping - basically dodging rocks around the shore as the current tried to push us onto the beach. It’s fair to say a couple of us got beached a couple of times!

Overall the hospitality from Ashburnham Place, the coaching from Jon Cox and Roger Wiltshire and the enthusiasm from the trainees was just fantastic. I'll remember that week for the rest of my life!   

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Saint Georges House Meet Up

Last week I went to Saint Georges House in North Devon, with Marc, Rachel and Emily. We were there for a meet up with some other Christian Outdoor Activity Centres (FACT, CYE and SGH) to have some fun, fellowship, discussions and prayer.

We got to Devon a little bit early, so we stopped for lunch and had a damp walk down to the beach.

After getting there and settling in it was time for our first activity. Most people opted for surfing and a little group of us did a walk to the beach. The walk was so wet that we could have almost gone surfing!! In the evening it was time for worship with a talk on Psalm 23 and how God provides for us.

In the morning it was time for another activity. The popular vote was surfing and this time Emily and I decided to have a go. There were three of us that had never surfed before, so after a quick lesson we were on the waves! I thought it was going to be freezing, but I was surprised how well wet suits work and I loved it. I managed to stand up briefly once and Emily a few times too. Rachel stood up for the first time as well in some of the bigger waves! Unfortunately, Marc was stuck to the sofa under strict doctor’s orders with an injured thumb.

In the afternoon we split into groups to discuss how the year had been (it’s a yearly meet up) and how things were going for us individually, with time to pray. Emily and I were in a group with most of the people we met on our Level 1 Canoe and Kayak Coaching week. This was really good as we were able to share quite easily and knew a bit about each other. After dinner and an engagement! (a couple from FACT), we had a time of worship and then split into different groups again to discuss Psalm 23 - what it means to us and then ways of applying it to our lives. The next day we had centre feedback, where each group shared a bit about what had been happening at their centre, future plans and generally how things were going. Then sadly it was home time.

I had a really good time away - I tried an activity which I was wary of trying and loved it and cannot stop talking about it! It was great to meet up with some of the people we met last year and meet new people that we share our faith with and who are in the same line of work.


Friday, 11 November 2016

TA Reunion!

October half term was chance for some of the young people that joined us in the summer for our Total Adventure Holidays to be reunited on ‘TA Reunion’!

They all arrived with us on Monday afternoon. Some were very tired and but excited to spend a few days catching up with each other and doing fun activities. After lunch we started our time together with a big game of My Chair, an A+ classic! We then moved on to do some climbing on the new routes set up in the sports hall. They all had a go at the different routes and looked at how to set up ropes.

We then had our Roadshow which involved some dry swimming and a bible talk by JP. In the evening we had planned for a bonfire, but it poured down and so everyone got into their sleeping bags and we all watched a film instead.

Tuesday morning came and after a bit of encouragement the young people eventually got up and we got ready for a canoe trip. We got all the kit ready and then set off for Lechlade. Our journey began and within 15 minutes we had our first capsize! Half way on our trip we found some inflatable boats, which some of the young people took a particular liking to and carried them all the way back. At the end Emily decided she wanted to see if it was easy to paddle in one of them and had a go in it!

The evening was dry (yay!) so it was time for a fire, some crazy challenges - one of which was getting a chocolate biscuit down your face and into your mouth - and another talk from the bible, this time from Emily.

On Wednesday the young people chose to do to slacklining, circus skills and archery. After a final roadshow and a talk from me, with chance to input into next year’s Total Adventure Holidays we said goodbye to everyone. I think lots of fun was had by all - especially seeing Emily’s silly faces - and we are all looking forward to the next TA! 

Til next time, Claire

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

CTS School Residential

Here is what Marc had to say about our residential with Christ the Sower School:

The past twelve months have flown by since we last ran the CTS residential, and what a crazy, quality year it’s been.

CTS is an abbreviation of Christ the Sower, a primary school in Milton Keynes, who have an annual Year 6 residential to Quinta Hall. We meet them there and run an action packed week full of activities, bad weather, amazing and insightful explorations of our Christian faith, fun games, good food and opportunities to make memories for life.

This year’s group had a very diverse mix of young people and were an incredible bunch to work with - certainly making the event easier and more enjoyable.

So, a bit about the week itself: every residential starts with a brief introduction of the team and a bit about the week itself, followed by some team building games which promote communication and working as one to achieve the best result. Tuesday saw the first full day of activities. CTS had booked us to run Climbing at Trevor Rock, Woodland Challenge, Low Ropes, Canoeing, Rafting, Fencing, Orienteering, Bushcraft and Archery – phewee!

I had been assigned to lead the Woodland Challenge and Archery. I’m sure you know what Archery involves so I’ll briefly explain the Challenge. In the woods of Quinta Hall are a series of obstacles including horizontal bars placed between two trees that differ in height, a rope swing with some marked areas to get your team from one side to the other and a big horizontal cross. The horizontal cross is a great activity tool - we ask the group to get them to stand on it in height order, age order, name alphabetical order etc etc… without getting off of the cross. It becomes very difficult/impossible to complete if you don’t work well together. The point is to help each other as a unit to overcome the challenge (which all of the teams excelled at when given the opportunity!!)

A fantastic part of each residential is sharing our Christian faith with the kids through evening ‘thoughts’ after a fun game or before the bonfire. This year, we’ve added interviews with some of the A+ staff which had some quick-fire silly questions before asking about why the individual follows God. I was blessed to be interviewed which enabled me to share a small slice of my story and a bit about what God has done for me. It was super encouraging to see them all listening intently. Hopefully the things we said to them resonated and will lead to them to explore Christianity in general and to investigate Jesus’ claims.

Every Quinta residential comes with the walk into Wales to see the Chirk tunnel and aqueduct, Steve the Hedge (see ‘Over The Hedge’ movie), the entrance to Chirk Castle and the infamous ‘cloud factory.’

For me, residentials are the best part of the work at Adventure Plus and I feel so blessed to have been a part of these young people’s lives if only for just five days. What a great group to work with and some amazing memories.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Welcome to Jack and Gary!

It is time to welcome the last two people that complete this year's DisTIL Team! Read what Jack and Gary say about joining Adventure Plus here.


Hello! My name is Jack Norridge, I have had my eyes on this gap year for around about a year and a 
half now before I joined the team. I finished my A-levels last year and really needed a break from education, so DisTIL was the perfect opportunity for me. I look forward to learning and developing skills in activities and working with lots of different people, whilst also learning about God and developing my faith in him. I really couldn’t ask for much more! I’m looking forward to developing
relationships with lots of new people. I also count on being adventurous, trying lots of new sports and activities and doing my best to excel in each. I really enjoy working with children and helping people achieve their goals - this really is a passion of mine. I’m looking forward to this year and seeing how it changes me as a person and how we grow together as a DisTIL team.


Hello, I’m Gary and I am just beginning a DisTIL year with Adventure Plus. It is very likely that I am the most mature (in years!) member that a DisTIL team has ever had, but I hope to keep up with the more youthful pace.

I have loved the outdoors since my first walk in the Lake District when I was 13 and since then have hiked and rock climbed in various parts of the UK and Europe. In 1997 I moved to Turkey with my family and worked for a Christian organisation where I supported the local church as well as organising mountain trekking tours as a small business. Since returning to the UK I have done various jobs and completed a degree in English literature and ESOL, and did part time ESOL teaching.

When I heard about A+ and the vision they have for the site at Windmill Farm I felt encouraged to perhaps be a part of it and hone some of my experience into solid skills and qualifications. I had never canoed until the beginning of my DisTIL year and, having enjoyed every minute of it, I am looking forward to more practice and passing the necessary assessments to become an instructor. I am also keen to gain the skills to become a mountain biking instructor and revise and update my SPA in order to take groups climbing. Most of all I am looking forward to being in the outdoors!

I hope to deepen my faith and trust in God so that I can combine outdoor activities and faith as a means of making a positive difference in the lives of young people.