Outdoor Education Centre: update September 2021 – Windows of Opportunity

Welcome to our centre newsletter. May we start by wishing you all well as you return from the summer holidays. Hopefully this term will be a steadier and safer experience for all! The centre is making positive steps forward as we emerge from the pandemic. Our recent news and requests include:

Holidays and Food Courses: We delivered three residential courses during the summer holidays that were kindly funded by the Holiday and Food Initiative. Children from New York Primary, Percy Main Primary and Battle Hill Primary visited the centre for holiday fun and to discover more about healthy food and exercise. We had a range of KS2 children visit, but a real highlight was to see Y3 children here coping well with the residential experience. These two-night mini visits provided many with their first nights away from home.

We need your old trainers or thick socks! Old trainers and thick socks are really helpful to kit out our younger visitors. If schools or parents have any outgrown trainers that need a new home please bring them when you visit.  Spare thick socks are useful as well! It’s always good to reuse and recycle. Thank you.

Group numbers increasing: During our re-opening phases we have followed Government guidance and limited our residential courses to circa 30 children from a single bubble. We have worked with the Health and Safety Team to explore a cautious release of the centre’s control measures. From the start of this term our group numbers have returned to 36 as a maximum. All our bookings currently provide sole occupancy of the centre. If all goes well then, we plan to resume our fourth group option of up to 48 children after the October half-term.

Our new Housekeeper/ Cook: We are pleased to announce that Michelle Finnigan has been appointed as the latest member of our domestic team. Michelle brings some great catering experience having cooked in both school and outdoor centre kitchens. We look forwards to welcoming her onto the team later this month. She apparently produces some serious puddings… we will undertake some research to see how they compare to Stan’s Sticky Toffee pudding!

Funding for the building: The centre has been kindly allocated key funding by the authority to look after the structure of the house. Survey work has been undertaken to help prioritise these works and the focus will be around the roof, windows, external walls and electrics. We look forwards to working with the Property Team on these projects which will happen over the next few years. We all need some good news now and this investment in our   service is just that!

Kayaking on the Tarn: Our new fleet of sit on top kayaks have proved to be a real hit with customers. They are smaller craft and offer users some very different learning opportunities to our traditional canoe sessions. Many, including me, have been impressed at how stable the boats are whilst being easy to paddle and manoeuvre for novice paddlers. We have had virtually no accidental capsizes yet, but plenty of voluntary ones in the summer sunshine!

Bookings: Thank you to everyone that has returned their booking forms for your forthcoming courses. Debbie, our administrator is adamant that I must become much firmer in following our bookings procedure and insist that we only hold a provisional booking for two weeks. A provisional booking is just that. After two weeks we may offer the dates to a different school. You wouldn’t expect to book your own holiday without completing the required paperwork … so be prepared for ‘no more Mr Nice Guy!’ On a serious note, confirmed bookings help us to plan financially and improve our viability. We generate the income to provide your service. We still have some weeks and weekends available for this school year. Please get in touch if you are interested. Remember we offer much beyond our traditional school’s residentials:

Revision Weekends?  Split weeks? Shared weeks? Family Camping? Curricular        Focus? Birthday Celebrations? Christmas Dinner Celebrations? Family Weekends? Staff Training? Adults? Technical Skills … Learn to Navigate, Climb, Winter Mountaineering, Canoe, Cave or Orienteer….? What do you want to do?

Weeks currently available: 25th October (Half Term), 22nd November, 13th December, 10th January, 17th January, 31st January and the  21st February (Half Term).

Weekends currently available: 15th October, 29th October, 19th November, 26th            November, 3rd December, 10th December and 17th December. We have lots of weekend availability in the Spring term.

At this point in time our bookings terms and conditions continue to be supportive of a Covid related cancellation. We are not taking deposits and will invoice as courses happen. We won’t see customers out of pocket for a Pandemic related cancellation. Our other terms and conditions still apply.

We look forwards to welcoming old and new faces to the centre this year. Follow us on Twitter @HighBorrans and the new centre website www.highborrans.org.uk to keep up to date.

Please get in touch if we can help.

Kind regards

James Bumby