8th – 12th April 2019: A full recount of a very special Sports Tour
Travelling day. A 03:30 am alarm call for all involved. Meeting at an airport by 05.30am is no mean feat when you are 12 & 13 years old. A few wibbles and wobbles about liquids in hand luggage and a lot of learning about the workings of an airport. For some of us who do not fly regularly it can be quite a daunting task. Support between friends was endearing to watch from the get-go; reassurance and explanation aplenty. With a “Just follow what I do and you will be fine.” We knew at this early point that the children on this tour were not in it for themselves – it was clear they understood us to be on a sports tour with a co-operative streak and a team game attitude. What a squad.
With 33 bags stored in the smallest luggage room at the hotel and we were ready for a nice early walk around Jersey.
“Hang on a minute,” shouts our guide, Sam, “wouldn’t you like a breakfast before you go out and about?”
“YES…are we allowed? We have not booked this within our package?”
“Absolutely; help yourselves,” comes the answer.
Well, the children (and staff) did not need to be asked twice. 33 piles of cooked breakfast later and we were “full”. If the standard of breakfast was anything to go by on this first morning then food was certainly going to be a highlight of the trip. Delicious and plentiful does not do the hotel food justice.
We split into our groups for safety and walking about. These groups were then set with silly challenges for each: pegs, shower caps, bunny ears and dummies. Again, groups were set enabling age phases to mix and unusual friendships could be given every chance to ignite.
After brekkie, we checked out our local area and got our bearings. Early on in the tour staff had explained to pupils how far they could explore inside and outside of the hotel. (Inside hotel – an impressive amount of freedom, outside of the hotel unsupervised …. just NO)! Our walk was promptly followed by a morning of beach games. By 10:00 we were playing cricket, rounders and tennis organised by Mr Ball and Mr Harris. Activities brought pupils together as a whole group; staff splitting up predictable friendships and teams and introducing an early friendly competitive nature with new friendships blossoming from the off.
The man in the sweet shop (on the beach) was delighted with the volume of produce St Peter’s managed to wade through. His comments included: “We have school groups all the time – if they all behaved like this lot then our job would be a lot nicer.”
Well done team – great start.
Back to the hotel across some busy roads where our groupings really helped us to cross safely. We went to check into our rooms and find out who our roommates were going to be for the next week. Always a make or break moment for any staff on a tour or trip. Announcements made: no fuss made. No questioning the room decisions. No moans about the split of rooms for groups of 2’s or 3’s. No comment. Just good-natured friends making the most of their time away. Unpacking took approximately three minutes and we were ready for our evening meal followed by some disco dancing in the hotel’s Star Bar.
Up early and down to another fabulous spread of food. With all pupils making sensible food choices and sticking to the St Peter’s food choice charter, the hotel catering team said to staff: “Your children are the first group we have had in who really understand the need to have carbohydrates, proteins and veg/fruit options in their diet – it is good to see and rare”.
Again, nice one St. P’s!
Few nerves this morning in preparation for our first training session. Girls off to Les Ormes for Netball training by a brilliant team of Jersey Netball coaches. Boys off to Jersey Rugby Club for some Coaching Clinics with a team of coaches. Mr Harris was heard to say: “Very high quality coaching this morning, could not have done better myself!” High praise indeed, Jersey!!!
You may notice in one of the pictures that all of the boys have their hair tied up on their heads – this was in honour of ‘Dave (Ewan!),’ who in particular worked hard with the boys’ squad to stretch and extend their rugby skills. Archie set off the trend of emulating his hairstyle which caused much amusement amongst ourselves and touched Dave very much. “What a great bunch of fun kids.” Once again, St. P’s children, without necessary explanation, you have totally understood and mustered the magic of sports tours.
By the afternoon, following a sandwich lunch, we went to Durrell Zoo – the only zoo on Jersey. Pupils were agog that staff gave them total freedom to move around the small zoo by themselves. They later told zoo staff that they had really appreciated being trusted to move around in small groups. (Especially when other school groups were being quite tightly reigned in). Pupils were quickly informed by zoo employees that their behaviour had been so good, so far … that why would we not trust them? Jersey Zoo staff came to find us to let us know that they had been “So impressed by our pupils in the restaurant, enclosures and grounds that they were welcome back any day of the week”. (Come on kids stop it now – the compliments are becoming embarrassing now).
In the evening, 33 tired bodies went across the road to the Aquadome facility. Connected to the hotel we were welcome to use this swimming resource as much as we liked – we certainly did! Aquadome disco party, I hear you say?!
“Yes please.” Tiredness means nothing to St Peter’s children – re-fuelled and determined to make the most of every second on tour – we swam and partied!
Tired bodies this morning! This is where resilience kicks in and temperaments are tested. Breakfast followed by a second training session in different locations led to us focusing on our gameplay and tactics for tomorrow’s matches. A busy morning of sport that tested all of our skill sets. Sophie was heard to say “Hey Mrs Ball, I have learned more in four hours this morning than I have with you all term.” Well, not quite what I was expecting, but those Jersey coaches were pretty exceptional – Mrs Ball responded with “I have made a note of all the drills Sophie, we will let Mrs White know them too. We are all, always and eternally improving!”
The afternoon was perfectly planned and timed. We reconvened with all pupils in Liberation Square. Retail therapy was the order of the afternoon and my goodness St Peter’s children can shop! Presents for grannies, grandads, neighbours, siblings and parents were aplenty – although there were a fair few trinkets for personal consumption too. More compliments from staff in shops. More freedom for the children who could not believe that we now trusted them to shop in Jersey in small groups and check in with us every half hour. Even a free chocolate bunny from Hotel Chocolat staff who were so impressed with the manners and decorum of our pupils that they gave everyone some freebies as recognition of their politeness.
(What a bunch of goody two shoes!).
More delectable food in the evening and more fun in a hotly contested quiz and bingo night.
Each evening we also held a ‘Kangaroo Court’, ably organised and run by Mr Harris and Mr Ball. All misdemeanours and mistakes were logged throughout the day and lost items stored in Mr Harris’ Mary Poppins bag. Monetary fines applied each evening before our evening meal. This ranged from 10p for a forgotten shower cap to 20p for a mislaid boarding pass! Hilarity at its best – also a good opportunity for the pupils to laugh at themselves and realise that everything has a consequence! No teeth were allowed to be shown to the ‘Judge’ and proper addressing of ‘Your Honour’ used. Taken in the best spirit – this really gave the Tour a community feel. Poor Freddie B was possibly the most heavily fined pupil – this was due to two lost boarding passes!
Some news came in the previous evening that the boys would be playing in Guernsey and not Jersey on Thursday, meaning that we had to alter our itinerary suitable for the day. As a result, the girls and boys headed off in different directions. Bereft at not being together, but with cheers of “Good luck” and “See you later” and “Show ‘em what we’re made of” came from both genders out of hotel windows and doors!
Matches went well. Netball was incredibly hard and seventh place was awaiting us – the competition was well fought by the girls and Lauren (our head coach) was delighted with our scores through all six matches – tough opposition indeed – Jersey is doing something very good and exciting with Netball on the island we would suggest. Rugby was incredibly well matched and saw St Peter’s come home with the Jersey Games trophy for a well-executed win. Strong squad with the right attitude for great success was what was seen. Job done! After Aquasplash with water flumes and wave machines, all that was left was a disco night to end all disco nights. There were tears and cuddles for all. Everyone involved knew that they had just been a part of something very special indeed. Pure magic! (And please note the only school still standing at the end of the night – parents, your kids really are brill)!
Packing is an interesting thing for children. Absolutely NO CLUE at all! None of them. Things were just slung in cases – we are so sorry for whatever appeared at home. So packed, last kangaroo court session with fun prizes for everyone (and more fines!), last swim, last meal, last transfer coach travel, last goodbyes, last thank you’s and home… with ‘birthday boy’ Dan S being treated to a cake for everyone to enjoy and then having to wear a birthday hat complete with candles on top all the way back to Exeter!
You were magic staff (and a tip of our hat for Mrs Squance who was on her first St Peter’s tour – AMAZING)
You were magic kids.
It was magic Sweet Chariot.
It was magic Jersey.