Prior's Field September 2018

Oundle School MENCAP Holiday Outdoors

Published Tuesday 24th of September 2013 03:18:24 PM

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend, 19 young adults aged 18 � 28 with learning disabilities took part in OSMH Outdoors, a four-day camping holiday in Wadenhoe, near Oundle. They were supported by a 20-strong team of experienced volunteers, the vast majority former Oundle pupils, who had spent several months planning and executing the initiative.

The weekend�s activities included climbing, archery, horse riding, swimming in the Oundle School pool, canoeing on the River Nene, and several camp-based craft activities. Campers also carried out jobs such as preparing the evening meal, collecting firewood and refilling water containers. Every evening, campers congregated around the camp fire to sing songs, play games and share stories.

Started in 2012, OSMH Outdoors has now become an annual event. It builds on the 30 years of experience of the Oundle School Mencap Holiday (OSMH), run every summer in Kirkeby and Wyatt boarding houses at Oundle School. OSMH welcomes 40 children aged 8 � 18, looked after by 45 former Oundle pupils and 24 current Sixth Form pupils at Oundle. All are volunteers who offer their time and energy for a full week, and many return year after year.

OSMH founder and retired Oundle School Classics teacher Richard Andrews said, �The blissful expressions on the campers' faces told what an enjoyable and valuable experience it was for them, matched by the equally blissful expressions on the volunteers' faces, concealing the enormous effort of setting up a fully functioning camp in an exceptional beauty spot, remote from the road and a water supply. It would be hard to replicate the wonderful atmosphere between all members of the camp without finding tens of volunteers of amazing good nature, generosity and energy, who had previously won the love of their campers over decades of loving care. It is an utterly winning formula.�

Holiday Leader and parent of a former pupil, Kate Taylor said, �This is an amazing opportunity for young adults with special needs to make and develop friendships, learn life and living skills, and above all to have a great camping experience. I must add my thanks and gratitude to the many dedicated volunteers and supporters of OSMH who have enabled us to run both holidays. �

Former pupil and volunteer helper Tessa Stanley Price said, �OSMH Outdoors is the perfect follow-on holiday for �graduates� of our summer holiday for children. We are constantly amazed by the campers� resilience, their willingness to try new things and their total commitment to having fun, even while huddling under canvas eating eggy bread in torrential morning rain or cooling off with iced drinks on a sultry summer afternoon. It is a privilege to spend time with these young people, most of whom we have known for several years, and to watch them grow and develop into caring, generous and confident young adults.�

For more information please visit www.oundlemencap.co.uk.
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