Many thanks to Mike Peck at Peponi House for sharing...
It was with great excitement and anticipation that the Year 7s boarded the school busses at the customary ‘early o’clock’ for their steady plod to Rift Valley Adventure’s, Forest Camp. For this Year 7 group it was their first experience of outdoor adventure activities with RVA and, having heard plenty of stories about previous trips from other year groups, expectations were high. The children were not disappointed and as soon as we arrived at camp we split into two groups to begin an intensive programme of challenges. Over the next two days the children rotated between a night in RVA’s main Forest Camp, which is actually located just outside the Ngare Ndare Forest boundary fence, and a night in the Forest Trust’s campsite, located deep in the woods. From these two bases the children pushed their bodies and minds out of their comfort zones as they took part in rock climbing, canyoning and the canopy walk.
The view from the rock climbing site is stunning, stretching for many miles into the distance towards Meru and beyond. The climbs themselves are challenging and many really pushed themselves to reach the top of the pitch under the careful guidance and instruction of the RVA staff and the encouragement of friends below. Whether you reached the top or simply managed a couple of feet off the ground was irrelevant; that you tried your best and had a go was key to personal success.
The canyoning was equally exciting with the greatest initial challenge being to simply enter the rather chilly waters! Once acclimatised the thrill of leaping from rocky outcrops and ledges into the deep pools below seemed to take the edge off the cold a little. Once again the support and guidance of the RVA staff was exceptional, as was the encouragement between the children and the Peponi spirit was clear to see. This activity also offered the opportunity to practise safe water and recovery skills; an excellent addition to the children’s life skills and personal development.
The canopy walk is a little more sedate but still a challenge for those who suffer from vertigo. Again we were very impressed by the Peponi spirit and sense of encouragement and the success rate for all 3 activities was extremely high. A small group of us were lucky enough to hear elephant pushing over trees in the distance although they remained elusive enough for us not to be able to actually see them.
A wonderful night in the Forest Trust’s campsite, sat around a roaring fire and learning about the surrounding environment, its communities and the fantastic work that the rangers and Trust do to preserve the Ngare Ndare forest added extra mental simulation to our physically demanding days. The highlight of the trip for the group that I accompanied at the forest campsite was being woken at 4:30 am to the sound of lions roaring. We later discovered their paw prints a mere 30 metres from camp; an unforgettable experience.
For the final day and night of the trip we regrouped at the main RVA Camp. RVA put on a magnificent barbeque and the group was treat to a large cake or two and a soda for Niah’s birthday celebrations. Activities from this camp involved a rotation between mountain biking, Tyrolean, first-aid and GPS navigation; a fine combination of activities and skills to further enhance the children’s experience and knowledge of valuable life skills. The children also took the opportunity to produce Kandinsky inspired landscapes with the magnificent Mt. Kenya as their inspirational backdrop.
A big thankyou to the staff of RVA who, once again, provided exceptional leadership, guidance and organisation. Also a big thankyou to the Year 7 form tutors, Miss Donaldson, Mrs Mathenge and Mr Tetley for their support throughout the trip. But, most of all, a massive thankyou to the children of Year 7 who showed true Peponi spirit, determination and encouragement throughout the trip.