Our location, close to the Forth and adjacent to local parkland, gives us easy access to a wide range of adventure sports including; mountain biking, climbing, skiing, kayaking, sailing, survival skills, hill walking and team building activities.
These activities are designed to promote team work, communication, leadership, resilience and fitness in a variety of outdoor environments. Although some of the team building activities will take place on the school site, there is no restriction on using local venues such as the Dalmeny Estate, Cammo Estate, Union Canal, Ratho Climbing Centre and parts of the Almond Valley and Forth shoreline, including Cramond Island.
We hope that this programme will offer a challenging alternative to traditional team games and be available to all those who are interested in trying something different.
It is widely recognised that Outdoor Education can provide skills for life; a recent conference in Edinburgh highlighted the impact of adventure activities upon personal and social development at Gordonstoun School.
Many old boys and girls pointed to the positive impact that “Out of Classroom Learning Experiences” had on their confidence, resilience and teamwork, leading on to success in their chosen fields later in life. We also hope that our children will enjoy and benefit from their experiences in a similar way!
Having the Climbing Centre at Ratho so close to us provides lots of opportunities for our keen climbers to head over twice a week to improve their skills on what is Europe’s largest indoor climbing wall. It is marvellous to see so many children keen to test themselves and develop the skills to unlock the many testing boulder problems. Although strength and agility are core to becoming a competent climber; determination, courage, teamwork and problem solving are also qualities which are developed in a sport which has been likened to “vertical chess”.
In addition to bouldering (low level climbing above crash mats without ropes), children can progress to roped climbing and are entered into the NICAS scheme which monitors and certificates skills and progress. Working together, supporting one another and learning new skills are key aspects of the outdoor pursuits programme here at Cargilfield and climbing is always a very popular past time with lots of children eager to take part and challenge themselves.
Mountain biking takes place every afternoon and groups of children head out in to the countryside which is just around the corner from Cargilfield, be that down to the beach at Cramond, up the River Almond or even further afield to the Dalmeny Estate and South Queensferry. The children thoroughly enjoy these sessions, giving them the chance to keep fit and encourage each other when the going gets tought. We are fortunate to have a large fleet of bikes here at school, suitable for all ages, and on return from muddy adventures, children even get to clean, oil and maintain the bikes too!
There are lots of opportunities for hill walking on the many camping trips which take place throughout the year; from low level climbs to bagging munros, to the annual school sponsopred walk round the Pentland Hills to climbing Scafell Pike, there is something for everybody, and that sense of satisfaction on reaching the top and admiring the view is a feeling like no other!
Paddling has become one of the fastest growing adventure activities in the U.K in recent years, benefiting from improved television exposure and British success in various Olympic disciplines. Although our children have a little way to go before Olympic success beckons, I am always impressed at the speed with which they develop paddling technique, boat handling and team skills on the water. In addition to the obvious fitness benefits that paddling brings, the children learn to manage on water incidents safely and how to cope with other craft. We are fortunate to have our own kayak fleet and trailer within easy reach of local canals, lochs and the Forth, which gives us the opportunity to explore the area and, to paraphrase Mr Rat, “there is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”
This is another sport which has been boosted by significant Olympic success and by improved access for children at an elementary level. We are fortunate to be so close to the RYA sailing centre at Port Edgar (below the Forth Bridge) which gives us access to an extensive fleet of dinghies. Children as young as 8 are able to handle the smaller dinghies which are simple to rig, light to launch and comparatively easy to sail. As skills improve, children can progress to performance dinghies which develop strength, core fitness, boat handling and racing techniques. Next stop – Tokyo 2020!