Thursday 17 August 2017

Navigating Independence and Adventure – Making the Most of School Residential Trips

When choosing the best school for my son and daughter, I looked very carefully at the opportunities they would have. Opportunities not only academically but in extra-curricular activities, such as music, sports, languages and adventure. At St Joseph’s College opportunity knocks from every angle and, when it comes to adventure – school trips and residentials, as well as on-site events such as camping, concerts, creative arts and colour runs – we are spoilt for choice.

Residentials were a big talking point for my son’s class this year as the first overnight excursion in the St Joseph’s College Prep School planner was on the cards. The very eagerly anticipated annual barge trip, selected especially for the Year 4 children, takes place over a choice of either two, three or five nights and paves the way for a series of residentials offered to students as they develop through their school lives. My son, of course, chose six full days of fun.

Charting the Benefits of School Residential Trips

Tap into Google about the benefits of sending children away on school residential trips and you will have endless reading material at the ready. From delivering that first taste of independence through to gaining improved social interaction and self-confidence, it really is very clear that enriching your child’s learning experience with a residential trip is well worth the investment.

Teachers also gain invaluable insights into the children in their care as the formal pupil/teacher relationship takes a break, allowing pupils to engage socially with them.

The benefits to parents, though, are not quite so easy to research and, although always keen to allow my children the space to explore, learn and fend for themselves (to an extent!), when it came to packing my nine-year-old off, it was done with some trepidation.

Having seen several years’ worth of elated Year 4 children arriving home after their own barge trips, I knew that finding a student who hadn’t had the time of their life on the week-long voyage would be hard to come by. Actually, it is nigh on impossible! Having also spoken with numerous friends whose children had already been on the trip, I was reassured that not one had had a bad experience and they had certainly not had the time to be homesick.

I knew my son would come home with tales of exciting exploits, new-found independence and fresh skills under his belt. What I hadn’t expected were the benefits I found myself experiencing as a result. 

The Space for Independence and Self-Confidence

The fact is, independence is a two-way thing. In an era when parents are spending increasing amounts of time with their children, finding we can let our children go safely and without them discovering they no longer need us feels, somehow, uplifting!

So, at the end of a week of gnawing worry and endless questions (Is he homesick? Could he have fallen overboard? Will this independence have changed him? Might he need me less from now on?) I discovered that, of course, all the worry was very normal and totally unnecessary.

More than that, however, I found that I had taken the first of many steps to allowing my child to discover the world for himself. Steps that will, no doubt, continue throughout his education and adventure at St Joseph’s College.

Mrs Vicky Fox

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