6.1 Conway Centre Residential Trip
Early in the morning at 6am, I had to drag myself out of bed for breakfast and briefing at the Dining Hall. Casey, the adorable cat of a Concord Boarding Parent also came to say goodbye. After loading bags into the bus, headcounts and last-minute toilet trips, students and teachers boarded the bus and embarked on a sleepy two-and-a-half-hour journey to Conway Centre, Anglesey.
Upon arrival, we sat on the grass field under the blazing sun for briefings about facilities and rules of the centre. After storing our rucksacks and luggage in the communal room, we enjoyed hot lunch with our allocated activity groups in the dining hall to fuel up for the afternoon’s activity. Students were divided into 14 activity groups, anticipated by an array of exhilarating activities including paddle boarding, sea level traversing, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. For day 1, my group went gorge scrambling where we climbed slippery rocks as cooling water from waterfalls poured into our faces. The excursion was made more fun with splashing battles, jokes and natural slides. I also had a collection of bruises printed on my legs.
In the evening, after showering and drying our clothes in the drying rooms, we savoured hot chocolate and pastries before going to bed.
We met our amiable instructor after breakfast who took us for a walk through the park to the dock where we would carry out our morning activity – raft-building. It was a sunny morning, so we put on extra sunscreen to shield our skin from the scorch of the sun. Before building our raft, we had to create a model of what our raft would look like, which was a piece of cake for our group of science students, some of which were aspiring engineers. Fastening heavy barrels to logs using ropes and we completed our sturdy raft, which carried our group over the waters and managed to stay afloat from beginning to end.
After lunch, we went mountain biking on the forest track at the centre’s vicinity. Apart from learning how to break, switch gears and a few tricks, we rode through bumps and had a little competition to see who could be the last one to stay on the bike with both feet from the ground while riding in a small area. It was exciting to get competitive while staying vigilant of our own bikes so as not to fall.
After dinner, students participated in a range of evening activities, of which I joined 5km beach run led by Mr Rawlinson and Mrs Ross. Running through sandy beaches, we paused to relish the spellbinding view of the coast at sunset, spotting a seal in the ocean. Continuing the run, we took the forest path, where we thought we were lost as we followed the way directed by Mr Rawlinson according to his intuition. Though running right after a full meal was probably not the best idea as the dinner in my stomach was churned into a new recipe during the run, it was nonetheless an enjoyable activity.
At 7am, I went for an invigorating run before breakfast with Beth, fellow students and Mr Rawlinson across the wet meadow where sheep grazed their grassy breakfast. Today, our group kayaked for the whole day along the Menai strait. Kayaking from the dock to the Menai suspension bridge against the current was so exhausting that was tempted to give up several times. With the encouragement of teachers and instructors, we made it to under the bridge and stopped for lunch. We also ate toasted marshmallows around a mini campfire before kayaking back to the dock. I also took the opportunity to jump off a ruined castle wall into the salty embrace of the cold seawater. To reward our hardwork, in rowing all day, we bought ice creams from a cafe next to the Plas Newydd House.
For the evening activity, our group went on a beach walk with Mr brown at Penmon Point facing Puffin Island and Penmon lighthouse. Stepping on rocks carpeted by seaweeds, Mr Brown didn’t miss the chance to give us quick biology revision by quizzing us on the species of the seaweeds. A few students were totally engrossed in their crab hunts. Always full of surprises, Mr Brown laid out a box of donuts on a huge rock and provided a jar of jellybeans for our enjoyment.
During the last day of our Conway trip, we had a competition between groups to collect points by completing obstacle courses. With brainpower and surprisingly amazing teamwork, our group completed all the obstacle courses. The most challenging ones included crocodile bridges where we had to move between points of different distances using a limited number of wooden planks without letting a plank or our feet touch the ground. At lunchtime, our group was announced as the second-prize winner. Though we weren’t first place, we were elated to have done all the obstacle courses with the combined effort of only 7 members which won us a tray of muffins. After a final check of items, we bid farewell to Conway Centre, thanking all the staff who catered for us before boarding the bus back to Concord College with a heavy heart.
Undeniably, the timing of the trip was not the most favourable, with some double mathematicians still having to take their A level Mathematics exam and many students amid a packing chaos. Nevertheless, the trip created indelible memories of hikes and rides with teachers and friends filled with vigour, laughter and joy.
Irisa – 6.1