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Oundle pupils host CCHF holiday

Published on isbi School News dated Tuesday 15th of October 2013

For a week in August, twenty Oundle School Sixth Form pupils spent a week volunteering for Children's Country Holiday Fund (CCHF), a charity that provides a countryside action packed holiday for disadvantaged children from London. The week's activities took place at Oundle School.

Pupil volunteer, Emily Cashmore (17) commented, 'When we arrived for our training we had no idea what to expect. Getting ready for the arrival of the children was exciting and when the bus arrived the following day, off stepped 26 children aged from 8 to 11 years old. Some of them looked absolutely terrified, whereas others seemed determined to make an impression from the start! After an evening of 'getting to know you games', which involved a human scavenger hunt in the woods, the house was filled with noisy and extremely energetic children.'

The first full day involved a visit to Sacrewell Farm, which for many of the CCHF children was their first experience of being around animals and they took great joy in stroking and feeding them. Afterwards, the group went bowling, bringing out the children's competitive streaks with plenty of cheering and screaming. That evening, the children were amazed by a circus skills workshop - the professional performers even managed to get holiday organiser and Head of Biology at Oundle School, Penny Rowe, involved in their club throwing tricks!

The following day, after a swim in the School's pool, the children travelled to Rutland Water for further water encounters including raft building.

Emily continued, 'Our group built what we thought was a sturdy raft out of barrels, rope and planks of wood, however it could not withstand the 'cheating' of the other team, whose tactics of crashing into our raft, meant it fell apart. After some kayaking and canoeing games, we dried off and spent the afternoon enjoying team building land games which proved to be almost impossible, but the children worked hard and succeeded eventually.'

That evening some of the children played ball games whilst others enjoyed the craft tent - creating paper name plates for their bedrooms doors.

Wednesday was spent at Warwick Castle watching jousting and taking a scary tour through the dungeons - some of the volunteers were much more scared than the children!

Emily added, 'One comment that I will never forget came from one of the more outspoken and confident boys, who said in the dungeons 'I'm not scared, I'm just emotional!' The evening was spent with the volunteers dressing up in a variety of homemade outfits, such as Siamese cats, superman and an old lady, for a game of real life Cluedo. It was during this evening that we saw such a difference in the children as they all worked properly in their teams for the first time and for some of them it gave them a big confidence boost for their ideas to be heard.'

On the final day, after a swimming session on the Treasure Island inflatable at the School pool, which involved most of the volunteers being pushed off or squirted with water by the children, the group went to Wickstead Park for a fun filled day on the rides with the main rollercoaster and the pirate ship being big hits.

Emily concluded, 'When we had our group meeting that night after the children had finally gone to bed, we all realised how much fun the week had been not just for the children, but for us as well, although it was extremely tiring! There certainly were a few tears when the children had to leave on Friday, but they all assured us that they would definitely come on another camp again. The change that we saw in their behaviour from when they arrived to the end of the week, and the way in which each individual character shone through at certain points in the week made it so worthwhile, and I will certainly be volunteering again for CCHF next year.'
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