There were many downsides to the pandemic, but for me a major one was that it denied me the opportunity to join my schools on their annual residential visits. I have been extremely lucky throughout my governing career to have worked alongside headteachers who have always encouraged children and governors alike to embrace such trips and push themselves to their limits.  
It was with great happiness therefore that I made the trip to Plas Gwynant not once, but twice within the last few weeks to join circa 60, 10- and 11-year olds as they discovered a whole new world. 
"The second week enabled the children to see that adults - especially chairs of governors - get scared too" 

I'm in the centre - in the bobble hat! 

Over those 2 weeks we climbed up some things and down others, we waded through rivers and waterfalls and we of course attempted to rescue stranded Jellyfish on the beach – not put off at all by the fact that they were unfortunately already dead. 
The second week also enabled the children to see that adults – especially chairs of governors – get scared too, as a Plas Instructor and an extremely nervous looking newly appointed Headteacher attempted between them to peel yours truly off a rock at the top of a mountain that was the only thing in my view saving me from certain doom. 
As we left Plas at the end of the second week a child informed me that whilst he would be checking his phone when he got home, he thought he would definitely go out to play first. I haven’t seen him since to find out if he did, but I hope so, such is the magic of Plas. 
For there is something truly magical about witnessing children who have never climbed a mountain before take in the view from the top, and in seeing the face of a child who has never actually paddled in the sea experience just how cold it can be in February. 
Over the years I have also seen staff leave their own comfort zones, not to mention fellow governors, one of whom abseiled for the first time at Frank Chapman Centre in honour of her 70th birthday. 

Hamstead Junior School pupils leave their mark in North Wales 

Accompanying our schools on a residential trip is an opportunity to see them in a different light. A chance to look away from the data and all that that we do quite rightly have to concern ourselves with at the self-discipline and self-belief that our schools instil in our children, to marvel at the curiosity and sense of adventure that they inspire, and to appreciate the care and encouragement so freely given by staff being passed around and shared amongst children, but also given back. 
To see your schools at their absolute best there’s nothing like it. 
Go on, ask if you can go on the next one! 
Lynn Howard is Chair of Governors at Lyng Primary School and Hamsted Junior School 
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