After my amazing week long residential to London with the Year Six at my placement school, I was really lucky to be asked to go on another residential – this time with Year Two on a two night trip to Escot in East Devon.
My experience of Escot was watching a James Morrison gig in the grounds, and as a friend’s wedding venue and I didn’t even realise they offered overnight stays, let alone residential trips for schools! Our class was one of the youngest they have had to stay, and I was worried that, being Year Twos, they may struggle being away from home for two nights, but they did so well, with hardly any tears!
Escot’s residential offering is called “Camp Wild” – they run residential trips as well as day trips and summer camps. The whole residential is focussed on everything natural, staying in yurts, eating outside, having campfires etc. All of the activities are based in the grounds, making the most of the amazing opportunities for learning that they have there.
When we arrived we were taken to the yurts that we would be staying in – I had always wanted to stay in a yurt so was probably more excited than the children at this point! Our bus journey only took about 45 minutes and so the children weren’t too grouchy when we got there!
The children settled in to their yurts – two for boys and two for girls. I was expecting it to be more tent-like, but there was hardwood flooring, IKEA bunk beds and a wood-burner, making it really cosy and not like camping at all. The set-up of the yurts was a large one in the middle which was equipped with lots of games, toys and books to keep the children entertained during any free time. This had the only entrance and exit, and joined on to this central yurt were the four bedroom yurts. It was a great set-up as it meant that the children couldn’t leave without going through the central yurt, where two teachers also slept, meaning that they were safe and secure, even when they did sleepwalk!
We had some lunch in the great outdoor eating area – the food is cooked in an outdoor kitchen, and the children are split into teams to lay the tables, clear up and wash and dry at the end – I thought this was a great idea, meaning that the children worked together to make sure all the work was done (although the teachers mostly washed!).
We were then taken on a night-time walk – although it was still light! The grounds are full of interesting things to look at, and we made our way round going through trees and along muddy paths until we made it to Jurassic Pork! This is where the wild boars were which we would feed on the last day.
We then went to the drop slide and most had a go on that, before heading through a giant termite mound replica which was really interesting. Along the walk we were shown interesting trees, such as the cork tree and a tree that you can make a drumming sound on!
They have a great play park and rope swing part way round so we had a good play in there (adults included!) and then made it to the maze. The maze is right next to the yurt village that we were staying in, so we made our way through and then had a great view of where we were staying from the middle.
Back to the yurts and I was hoping the children would get to sleep early as they were tired – how wrong I was! The last were asleep by 12:30am and the earliest up were 4:45am! Luckily my yurt with a couple of other teachers was slightly away from the main yurts, but I still had a wake-up call of children playing!
After our early start and lovely breakfast, we made our way over to the Saxon Village. We were taught how to make name necklaces using hand drills and wooden discs – the children were amazed to learn I had a first name! After another trip through the maze, much quicker since we knew our way round, we were taken in to the woods to learn how to build a fire and a shelter.
We split in to two groups and began with learning how to light a fire. We used the flint and steel to make our fires after a great talk on the best way to build the base.
We then learnt how to build a shelter and why it is best to be built in a certain way. We had a go at building a shelter, although ours didn’t turn out great!
The children really seemed to love this and they made some great shelters and all of them managed to start a fire, even if with a little help – pretty impressive for a group of 6/7 year olds!
After our lunch we went on a walk to make a salad. We stopped at lots of different trees and plants and were taught about what is safe to eat and what isn’t, and what different plants can be used for – we all even ate leaves from a Lyme Tree which I didn’t see myself doing!
After some free time, we made it over to the swamp walk – the part of the trip that most of us were looking forward to the most! After donning our messy clothes and taking off our shoes, I was given the job of going first! The swamp started off being up to about my ankle height and was very squelchy underneath! Being only half a metre wide, we all made our way up the swampy path in single file, before I had to slide down a muddy bank in to a freezing cold pool of water! It came up to about my waist, so obviously quite high on the children. And this is where it got messy! 30 children had to come down the side in to the water and I think only about 10 managed to not cry – and I don’t blame the ones that did cry! The water was freezing and it must have been quite scary for them, not being able to see the bottom. So, we carried most of the children across in to the final pool where we all had a good splash around.
I absolutely loved the swamp walk – would love to do it again, and so would most of the children, despite all of the tears.
We showered off (lots of showers and toilets outside which are much nicer than the usual camping ones!) and went back to the Saxon Village to be taught how to toast marshmallows over a campfire.
Then we went on to a Jousting and Falconry show which was having its first display of the year. We only watched half but it really was amazing, with the birds doing amazing flying. The children were amazed.
Thankfully, the children were much more tired and so everyone slept well, including me! We woke the next day to bacon baps and then headed to feed the otters and the wild boars. Finally, we had a walk around the birds and were given a great tour and found out lots of interesting facts about the birds they have on display.
As you can see, we fit a huge amount in to 2.5 days and Escot’s staff were absolutely amazing with the children. The children all learnt a lot, as did I, and I would love to go back there on another school trip.