A Year Long Adventure Programme The Whole School Enjoyed

Stubbers Adventure Centre

Stubbers Adventure Centre, Upminster

A year long programme of outdoor activities has helped students from an Essex school to bond and build their confidence – as well as wooden structures!

Gaynes School in Upminster has developed a partnership with local outdoor activity provider, Stubbers Adventure Centre, to provide their students with an invaluable experience over the course of the school year.

Students in years’ seven to nine took part in Stubbers’ Woodland Constructors programme, which saw the youngsters using hand and power tools to design and build wooden structures. Meanwhile, older students from years ten and 11 undertook The Great Escape challenge, which included pond crossings, raft building, tunnelling and an assault course with a 14ft wall.

Stubbers Adventure Centre is based on a picturesque 130 acre site and is a registered, not for profit organisation. In its 20 year history, the centre has helped hundreds of schools provide their students with the opportunity to learn and develop social and interpersonal skills and build their confidence through participating in adventurous activities.

The centre’s facilities include watersports such as kayaking, jet skis, sailing and raft building, as well as land based activities incorporating archery, orienteering, laser tag and rifle shooting. There is also The Towers section, offering climbing, abseiling, high ropes and zip wire, quick jump, vertical assault course and motorsports including quad bikes and 4 x 4 driving.

“We had been looking for ways to provide students with additional experiences outside the classroom and the Stubbers outdoor activity programme was exactly the kind of experiences we wanted for our students,” said David J Rogers, Chair of Governors, Gaynes Secondary School.

Bob Edwards, Centre Manager at Stubbers said: “We work directly with schools to deliver a programme of activity they want, so the objectives are met each and every time. We can tweak any part of our standard sessions to suit our customers – that’s the kind of flexibility and experience we offer. We were able to take Gaynes’ groups every week and were delighted to help build a fantastic partnership over the year.”

The Woodland Constructors programme was perfect for Gaynes’ year seven to nine pupils, requiring students to pair their imagination with construction skills and teamwork in order to design and build tree houses and other wooden structures.

With plenty of timber and tools, six hours and minimum involvement from adults, the idea behind the programme is to allow children the freedom to explore their ideas and make risk management decisions themselves. While given safety boundaries and supervised from a distance, the students were able to develop a new construction of their own design, improve an existing structure or work on a team project’.

“Our Woodland Constructors thrived on the freedom they were given and were able to show off their team work skills and imaginations in a way they can’t demonstrate in a classroom,” said David.

Older adventurers from Gaynes School took part in the Great Escape challenge set by Stubbers. The success of this activity is highly dependent on good teamwork, as participants become prisoners of war and need to make a bid for freedom. Pulling together during the preparation phase helps the team to free the highest number of prisoners within 45 minutes.

All students were able to take part in the challenge as it was recognised and accepted by instructors, teachers and the students themselves that not everyone is going to be happy getting muddy or throwing themselves over a 14ft wall! Those who preferred to skip a part of the challenge were not put under pressure but instead asked to encourage and support their gung-ho counterparts.

Within the Great Escape challenge, students were timed on five separate elements. Given just 30 minutes at each section, they completed an assault course, a river crossing using a self-built pulley system, tunnels or river crossing with a mine field, a water crossing in a self-built raft and finally that 14ft wall crossing.

David continues: “Some students were initially unenthusiastic about the programme (their boundaries were being pushed and they were outside of their comfort zone), but thanks to the way the event was designed and the knowledge and leadership of the Stubbers team, everyone returned to school and agreed it was an enjoyable time and felt positive about the experience.

“We feel the programme has enabled our students to build their confidence and develop their communication, problem solving and leadership skills.”

Bob added: “It’s been wonderful working with students at Gaynes School and we look forward to welcoming them in the new academic year.

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