Following on from our inaugural ski expedition last year, we have just returned from our latest adventure, this time to Bansko in Bulgaria.
As with last year what seemed a reasonable proposition a year in advance began to take on a different prospect as D-Day approached and all the possible ways things could go wrong steadily took on a looming reality!
Suffice to say, we went, we skied, we returned...and what a fantastic time we had.
We took 8 young people, 4 of whom had skied last year and all of whom had had lessons on the Kendal dry slope. (This was more than fortuitous because the quality of instruction at the resort was best described as Боклук - rubbish).
As such any development was in the hands of the only person on the trip who has never had a lesson in his life (blind leading the blind did I hear you say? No change from the Principal there then!).
Nevertheless we did some great skiing, everyone conquering blue runs and the hard core getting down reds and blacks. The swimming pool and sauna were well appreciated at the end of each day and no-one had a problem sleeping.
The sun shone all week and there was great snow cover on well-groomed pistes. Everyone improved, coped well with tiredness and overcame big personal challenges. For staff though, the biggest satisfaction came from seeing lots of healthy, smiley faces and the teamwork, self-reliance and friendship that was honed through the week.
Bulgaria is certainly culturally different and there is a lot of travelling (and planning) involved. Supporting our young people to access things they may never otherwise do, be it coping with air travel or shopping in a foreign country is immensely rewarding. Although the staff all skied (some for the first time) it was no holiday and they all agreed it was the hardest week they had worked since joining Whinfell. Tellingly they all said they wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
The benefits and learning opportunities were immense and last year we saw real long-term benefits back in school. Shared experience bonds and does an enormous amount to cement friendships and build on relationships with staff. I fully anticipate seeing the same impact this time. All in all a great success and a tribute to the immense effort put in by the staff who made it work.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, all the boys came back in good working order and I only broke one of the staff. Could have been worse...