At the very end of the summer term, a group of 40 intrepid Year 9 pupils set off for a six-day trip to southern France, staying in a beautiful, secluded part of the Cevennes National Park. The objectives of the trip were to learn about a range of geographical aspects associated with the region and to challenge every participant by doing something new.
The group left the College on Saturday evening and travelled by coach and ferry to the Eagles Nest Field Studies Centre, some 30 minutes’ drive from the regional centre of Mende. They were warmly welcomed by the wonderful staff at the centre and tucked in to some delicious food before embarking on an action packed few days.
During their stay pupils competed in team building and strategy exercises, studied the impact of tourism on the mediaeval site of Sainte Enimie, walked through part of the Tarn Gorge (France’s limestone equivalent of the Grand Canyon), honed their map-reading skills during an ascent of Mont Lozere and gazed in wonder at the sheer size and scale of Aven Armand cave (an incredible geological feature, with a collection of the largest and oldest stalagmites and stalactites in the world, set within a cave in which the Parisian Notre Dame Cathedral could easily stand).
They enlivened their olfactory senses with a visit to a Waste Disposal and Recycling Centre (an eye-opening exposure to the by-products of modern living), scaled the heights of the High Ropes course above Mende (a personal challenge for many, a walk in the air for some), soaked their feet while investigating the River Souteyran, played a version of the Hunger Games to enhance comprehension of the local ecosystems, and played some football, petanque and volleyball in front of a stunning natural backdrop. The visit culminated in a quiz and disco, with a tasty barbecue served up to send the group on their way with fond memories and full stomachs.
In summary, pupils gained a tremendous amount from a very full few days and returned with a broad smile beneath some bleary eyes from the overnight travel back to Eastbourne.