On Sunday June 16th a luxury black, double-decker coach took our group on our rock tour of Wales. The activities at Rhos-y–Gwaliau for Year 6, week 1 included: 4-person canoeing on Lake Bala, learning coordination and teamwork, then banking up to light a fire from scratch wood and make popcorn the old-fashioned way. Walking or canoeing through the water-filled gorges in the mines and then climbing up and sliding up and down the slippery rocks and rapid gorge water: Mr Warmoth scored highly with the judges with his backward dive into the falls as his pupils looked on. Climbing and descending a 600-metre-plus mountain, clambering up and through a bore hole blasted by slate miners. Paddle-boarding, where a very local force of gravity or distant relative of Nessie in the water kept pulling Mr McBride in while the students elegantly oared away. Learning how our eyes adjust to pitch black in the local mines. Mr Webster told a few tales of the unexpected and on this trip there was talk of a dragon in the mines, which Tristan managed to outrun when chased, and as that is an indigenous creature to Wales, it seemed a plausible story!
Rock climbing up sheer angles with barely any foothold, where the students appeared to have cloven feet and the courage of mountain lions. Learning to sail, often with minimal help from the wind: a really impressive act of teamwork and intelligence on a first attempt.
Some of the children were trying these highly challenging activities for the first time and their practical intelligence, courage and determination was fantastic to see. There was lots of emphasis on teamwork and working out your own answers to problems from the brilliant guides and this was a steep learning curve, enjoyed hugely by every single person there. Rhos y Gwaliau translates as ‘Rest from the Moors’ and we got that back at the huge quarters in our comfy dorms. The emphasis on independence continued: making beds; keeping tidy rooms; keeping to morning and evening timetables and learning self-reliance to sort out our own lunches, drinks and do domestic chores such as kitchen-cleaning and boot-polishing.
It is a fantastic experience: if you have any doubts about your child going when it is their turn, please ask a Year 6 child or parent to confirm that Rhos-y-Gwaliau is an enriching experience which you would expect a child to remember for a lifetime.