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Peterhouse Boys

D Block Basecamp 2018

This year we again ran Basecamp early in the Lent Term, confident in the knowledge that it helps build understanding and strengthen relationships amongst the new boys in their respective Houses. Basecamp is the [D block] entry level Wilderness Teambuilding Programme at Peterhouse. This is part of a four stage “adventure based experiential learning” process that is one important aspect of the Infinity Programme. We ran Basecamp from the Picnic Site in Calderwood Park; the facilities are perfect for Basecamp and the new Lapa, toilets and awesome camping area now make this the ideal setting for this unique experience.

Once again we used the trustworthy, reliable and professional services of Outward Bound Zimbabwe to facilitate the teambuilding activities, canoeing instruction, abseiling and target shooting. These activities are all basically run as micro programmes where each House has a turn. Many thanks to Sam from OBZ and his team for helping run these elements of the programme so safely and effectively.
This year we introduced an extra night camping in Calderwood Park the night before the programme started. This proved a real hit with the boys as they had to muddle through setting up their tents and for some sleeping outdoors for the first time. With the wonderfully dry weather several boys opted to sleep “under the stars” (that’s not the “5 Star Hotels” many are used to these days!)

We start the programme with the six wilderness survival skills sessions. Basecamp always starts with half day introduction to various basic outdoor / survival skills. Specifically we cover orienteering, rogaining & bush etiquette; basic first aid; food preparation; packing and fitting a back pack; setting up shelter; and making fires & fire safety. This is much more structured these days and should give all participants the necessary basic skills to cope with all aspects of our outdoor education programme, and it covers all the skills necessary to partake in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Adventurous Journey which the boys will require in C Block.
After this, and a wholesome lunch, the boys spit into various groups for hiking and camping, or canoeing, pellet gun shooting; abseiling or raft building (to build and navigate a raft across the dam – constructed only from 10 gum poles, 4 large plastic drums and some tatty old rope). Not all the teams made the raft journey across Dombo Dam, but the team-working-skills (communication, creativity, collaboration) that come into play can seldom be replicated in any better environment! Whatever the result the experiential learning process is unparalleled.

All the boys had to walk to Ruzawi Camp Site with sufficient camping equipment, nutrition and water to sustain a (reasonably) comfortable life for a night and the return journey. The groups actually walk in a south westerly direction heading to Ruzawi Beacon and then stay the picturesque Ruzawi Camp Site. For many boys this was a first time experience and the navigation and distances (around 12.5km each way) pushed them out of their comfort zones. Many stories of fortitude and courage will join the folklores of the Peterhouse outdoor education programme, and everyone obviously coped. Most boys quickly got the hang of GPS navigation, but for those that did not, the 25km return trip easily turned into 30km, if not more.
Each hiking group was accompanied by their tutors this year, which was a great opportunity for the boys to get to know the tutors and more importantly for the tutors to get to know the boys.

The weather played it’s part, again – but unlike last year’s floods the pupils had very hot and dry conditions. The pupils all sweated out the 25km plus hike (which was particularly arduous in the draining heat), but otherwise we we were blessed with great camping weather. I accompanied both hiking groups: after having done the walk with both groups of boys from Tinokura I had no doubt that some of boys may be feeling like Mark Twain when he was quoted as saying: "I am glad I did it, partly because it was well worth it, and chiefly because I shall never have to do it again." That feeling soon passes and resilience, confidence and the collaborative and social skills gained by this experience will soon take evidence in the boys.

Once again the orientation (all by GPS) took the form of a rogaining competition were the Houses had to get to checkpoints and answer questions at these points. The idea of a competitive cross country navigation exercise certainly created enthusiasm – more so since the winner gets two large pizzas. This year Malvern won a hard fort battle in the rogaining competition and earned the well-deserved prize.

Many thanks to Outward Bound, Mr Davison and the Tinokura Tutors who all helped to make this such a successful trip. My thanks also go to Transport, Estates and Introwise for all they do to continually support these programmes.

Andrew Shoesmith
Leadership and Personal Development Director
January 2018

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