First Year Trip to the Burren

The 2013 annual overnight trip to the Burren is a much anticipated event in the First Year Physical Education Programme.

In total 65 students went on the trip. The groups were split over two days, one group going on Wednesday 8th arriving back to on Thursday and the other leaving Thursday 9th arriving back on Friday 10th May 2013. Each group set off in high spirits to The Burren Activity Centre, Co. Clare. The teachers accompanying students on the trip included Ms Creed, Ms Quaid, Ms Ryan, Ms Cregan, Ms O Callaghan, Mr O Brien and Mr Bourke.

The activities depended greatly on weather, and as we neared the Burren the weather did not look good with dark skies overhead. Windy weather was forecast so the planned kayaking had to be cancelled however an exciting alternative was offered; Caving. Students were unfamiliar with what was involved in Caving so the anticipation for this activity was high, a mixture of apprehension and excitement. This new experience for students proved to be a highly adventurous activity which offered students a rare opportunity to explore the underground stream ways of the Burren. The students got to see underground waterfalls, stalactites and stalagmites; squeeze their way through narrow gaps to reach further caves and use specialist equipment including helmets and lights provided by the Burren Outdoor Education Centre.

Students also participated in a number of land based activities including a hill walk up through the rocky limestone landscape of the Burren to a steep rock face where students took part in Rock-climbing. After a safety talk from the instructors, students had the opportunity to use ropes and harnesses to help each other climb the rock face. This was a real team working exercise which promoted trust, motivation and confidence in the group. Although it was a major personal challenge for each student, the help and support of the instructors and their peer group successfully helped each student to succeed to their own personal best. As students reached the highest they could go, they got to sit back and abseil back down the rock face with the help of their peers below. It was great to see students work so well together, guiding one another, communicating with each other and most importantly having fun on this rewarding activity.

Once back at the centre students got to relax, shower and change for dinner. Dinner was a great opportunity for students to share stories of their activities and the events of the day. Evening activities included orienteering, table tennis, soccer, and board games such as twister, and just before bed students got to unwind and watch a DVD. Over the two days, each group of students experienced new activities and challenges which the majority of students would not previously have tried or participated in. Students involvement in the activities helped strengthen team work, problem solving, co-operation and leadership within the group. Each group returned home to Newcastlewest after their overnight trip tired but happy.

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