Posts Tagged ‘Challenge Award’

Pigeon Pie.

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Those of us with children will be used to the school calendar. You know the drill; term dates, sports fixtures, open assemblies, Choral Day, Maths Challenge week – that sort of thing. So, it came as a little surprise to me when I spied ‘Survival Training’ scheduled on ours at the beginning of the Autumn term. Survival Training? Surviving what, exactly? But it’s part of an Outdoor Challenge award and I reasoned that it couldn’t be worse than the trip she did last term as part of it, which was a brief sojourn to the Brecon Beacons. This was cheerily sold to us as two nights of camping and a just a small 20k – or so – walk. Enjoyable, no? Smaller daughter arrived back from that one soaked through, muddy, exhausted and with a high temperature. That was the low point with this Award, we reasoned.

Initially, daughter was reasonably excited about the survival training. It was only an overnight camp in the school grounds with all of her friends. What fun! What’s not to like? Well actually, possibly this:

“We have to gut and eat a pigeon, Mummy. And build our own shelters.” Gourmet and luxury indeed.

“Really?” I took this with a pinch of salt, sure that it had been Chinese-whispered into existence. I mean, honestly, getting twelve year olds to gut a pigeon and build shelters? What could possibly go wrong? Well, the potential certainly begins with my daughter who has never constructed anything in her life, much less something she has to bed down in for the night.

But, she was excited as she packed up her kit the night before. The kit list was fairly extensive, and we had to plunder the camping equipment of my partner to get everything together. The only trouble with that is my partner is a huge wild camping aficionado, and most of his camping belongings come into the ‘a ridiculous amount to spend on a tent, we could afford a luxury holiday with that’ bracket. So obviously we couldn’t tell him that we were borrowing stuff. My poor partner. Before he met me and we moved in together, he slept easily and peacefully at night, knowing that his possessions were solely his possessions and in the morning they would be where he left them. Enter me and two daughters. I mean, we don’t TRY to appropriate his belongings, but it’s just that he has the best stuff. It’s good quality and he has lots of it. He does feebly protest when one or the other of us borrow a tent, a bike, a surfboard, some jumpers, phone chargers, but three years down the line I think he’s more or less accepted that his norm has – well – disappeared. We do give it back, obviously. Unfortunately, smaller daughter has a habit of obsessively labelling everything she takes to school so what he doesn’t know is that much of his precious camping equipment has glittery pink name stickers on it. As long as he doesn’t take it out for the first time in front of anyone, it’ll be fine.

Anyway, back to the pigeons. So, she went off for this overnight camping, keen to learn the skills they need to survive, should they ever become dangerously lost in the grounds of a very nice private school. There are two patches of woodland within the grounds and they were to camp in the further away one, which must be, oh, I don’t know, 500 yards from the school building, if that? But frankly, they could have been deposited in the deepest, darkest wilderness somewhere in Wales with poo shovels, so they lucked out staying in the grounds.

“Goodbye darling!” I waved her off cheerily, “Have a good time! Enjoy the building and eating, I’m sure you’ll love it.” I say this to her with all the confidence of someone who has an actual bricks-and-mortar house to go to, with a well-stocked fridge, cosy beds and central heating.

“I will. Love you.” Car door slams and off she goes. And off I go to my well-nourished warmth.

And then of course, it’s radio silence because they aren’t allowed their phones at school. My warm day drifted into my cosy night, and my cosy night drifted into my warm morning, and I woke up pleased that it hadn’t seemed to rain much. I was looking forward to collecting her and hearing about the camping tales, but the camping was Friday night and they have Saturday school, so I had to wait until lunchtime to do this. On this particular Saturday they had to conduct tours of the school which requires them to be in their very smartest uniform, with their very neatest appearance. Quite why they chose a motley crew of white-faced, wood-smoke-smelling and generally damp children with dark black circles under their eyes and bits of twig in their hair to represent the school is beyond me. They must have looked like something out of a zombie-apocalypse-meets-Addams-family spectacle to the visitors.

We parents were all waiting, keen to see our offspring after their adventure, laughing and chatting away, and then I spot a child out of the corner of my eye, who is moving very slowly and looking very sad. Yup, you’ve guessed it, that’s my one. The minute she set her eyes on us, she flung herself into my arms and burst into tears, “I’m just sooooo tired!” she wailed (oh dear, she does need her sleep).

“Oh no, but did you enjoy it?”

“Nooo!” (Oh dear)

“What did you sleep in?”

“A thing we made out of sticks.” (Good grief…..)

“What did you actually eat?”

“There was nothing but pigeon, so I starved.” (See above)

“How many pigeons were there?”

“I don’t know, loads. They were caught for us before though.”

“There you go! It wasn’t all bad then.” (Thank heaven for small mercies…………)

She got home and then proceeded to sleep for 16 of the next 24 hours. And though I am loath to say it, and only do so through gritted teeth – I was *whispers* wrong. Wales was not the low point.


Survival training – 1

Daughter – 0


PS. I do have to add that the Outdoor Challenge Award they do is a very worthwhile and important endeavour, and the school do a jolly good job of giving the children the best experiences that they can to prepare them for the challenges of the outdoors. It is simply that my child is not really up for the challenges of the outdoors; she’s perfectly happy in her warm, lamp-lit bedroom with plenty of cushions and soft blankets. There were lots of braver children that loved the camping!