The Perse School

PES Summit 11 practise their canoeing skills in Norfolk

20 Oct 2015

Members of the Perse Exploration Society Summit 10 group ventured to Norfolk over the weekend, for a busy weekend to test pupils’ canoeing and bushcraft skills, ahead of their summer expedition to Sweden. Fire Leader Elizabeth Stephenson wrote an account of this action-packed weekend.

“On Friday 16 October the 60 members of Summit 11 set off to Norfolk for a weekend of canoeing and bushcraft skills. When we arrived late on Friday evening we transported our group kit down the hill to our personal Fire sites (each Fire has six members with one Fire Leader) and lugged our group kit down. We only set up personal tarps and slept on the floor as it was too dark to learn how to put up our group tarps and hammocks.

The next morning, both groups got up at 7.30am to carry the canoes down the hill from the trailer to the shore. Once we had finished this, group one cooked a fry-up at their Fire sites (after we had put our group tarp up following a demonstration) using our fire boxes. Group two made some porridge as they needed to be quick to start their day of canoeing. Group one had quite a late breakfast as we were persevering to light our fire using a magnesium striker which is what we will be using in Sweden – some groups had an earlier breakfast than others!

After this we were taught how to put up our personal tarps and hammocks and learn the knots required, which we then transferred to our own camps. Lunch for group one was tomato soup with bread and some snacks which went down well, and we also fed our designated fire staff member who spend quite a lot of time with their Fire. My Fire’s staff member is famed for his amazing doughnuts which we are looking forward to making in Sweden! It’s great to have a staff leader with your Fire as they have so much knowledge and experience – we would definitely have struggled without Mr Painter’s guidance in putting up our tarps. Following lunch we completed two rotations for an hour and a half each: one was first aid lead by the expedition doctor Dr Jeremy Evans, and the other was cutting tools training and feather stick making and lighting with Pete Edwards. Both of these rotations were incredibly useful and informative as well as including some rather entertaining fake casualties on the first aid station! Dinner that evening was chorizo pasta for group one cooked on our fire boxes with steamed golden syrup sponge for dessert. Group two had hog roast cooked by Mr Parker when they got off the water after canoeing all day. The evening was spent socialising within our fires and getting to know each other better, accompanied with hot chocolate and biscuits. Sleeping in our hammocks was an exciting experience that night as for most of us it was the first time – I did feel I was going to fall out numerous times as I settled down but fortunately none of us did!

Sunday morning dawned cloudy but not too cold. The two groups swapped around so group one went canoeing for the day with Jim and Paul the canoe coaches, and group two completed bushcraft exercises. In the canoeing session we learnt how to paddle forwards, sideways using a draw stroke, how to do a stern rudder and how to turn using sweep strokes. After our sandwiches for lunch we canoed further down the lake to practise our skills. Some of the more experienced paddles also had the opportunity to coach friends and improve their skills. Our little journey took us around to the bottom end of the lake and was helped along by some very loud singing! Once we were back on dry land we carried all the canoes back up the hill before tucking into our delicious hog roast with apple sauce and stuffing. The evening was spent socialising and chatting round each other’s Fires which was nice and relaxing. Some Fires had some great drop scones whilst others heated up apple pies and custard.

Our final morning was spent packing up all of our kit and practising rescues one fire at a time; this is an essential skill to master for Sweden. The water was a little on the chilly side, however we all embraced it and had a great time. Cornish pasties for lunch were enjoyed by all after finishing packing marking the end of a great trip for everyone involved.

A huge the thanks go to Mr Parker and the other leaders, and Jim and Paul our fantastic canoe guides for such a great fun and useful weekend.”


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