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Peterhouse Boys

D Block (Form 1) Basecamp 2021

Normally held after the first two and a half weeks of the year, the Basecamp ran from 24 to 27 March this year, which was only three days into the boys' Peterhouse journey! Nonetheless, there was a very positive vibe during the camp and the boys enjoyed a range of teambuilding and challenging activities … well, maybe they didn't all enjoyall the activities while doing them, but they certainly all have tales to tell about how heavy a backpack feels after about 25km of walking through some amazing Marondera countryside, and the potential hazards involving leeches when building a raft. There is a great sense of achievement after completing what is a challenging three days, especially for the boys who are not used to a rigorous outdoor lifestyle.

The overall aim for Basecamp is that all the boys gel, complete tasks together, learn to work together, leave together arrive together. It sets them up very well for life in Peterhouse, and indeed life beyond Peterhouse.

The Basecamp is supervised by an experienced team of instructors who have worked with the Peterhouse outdoor education programme for a number of years, and runs in two parts. Three houses embark on a hiking expedition while the other three complete a number of team exercises around Dombo Dam. Then they swap.


On the first day, all the boys cycle through a set of training sessions on how to light a fire, nutrition and meal planning, packing a backpack, navigation, first aid basics and how to put up a tent. This prepares them for the hike, which starts just after lunch one day and finishes at lunchtime the next.

The 12+km hike from Dombo Dam in Calderwood Park to our Ruzawi campsite, where the boys set up tent, start their fire, cook supper and roast marshmallows before turning in, starts after lunch and takes the boys through some beautiful areas (and increasingly uncomfortable shoulders and backs!). One of the highlights is a plunge in one of the farm dams a little way before reaching the campsite.

The return journey takes them on a different route, a little longer than the first day, and involving a few more ups and downs through slightly more challenging terrain. This is a good test of perseverance, and is part of the preparation for longer outdoor education events in upcoming years at Peterhouse. Arriving back at Dombo Dam in time for a cooked lunch is definitely a highlight for all involved!


The other half of Basecamp is a series of team activities run at Dombo Dam. Each house is led through raft-building, abseiling and zip wire flights, and team dynamics, a series of problems to be solved, such as getting the whole team over a two metre plus high horizontal log, solving an industrial size Tower of Hanoi and a few other challenges. These are designed to promote teamwork, strategising within the group, and recognising the diversity of talents amongst the boys.

There are some fabulous learning points for the teams, especially when a raft unravels on the dam or everyone gets soaked because they can't plug enough holes in a leaky pipe, or they fail to meet a target time … we encourage them that failure at a task isn't failure of the team, but reveals growth opportunities, an attitude I believe will serve the boys well in life. Sadly this year I didn't win any chocolate bars from the raft builders … my deal was that if the raft fails, I get a Lunchbar, but no.