"The constant assessment of each child's skills and subsequent adaptation of the programme is an area of good practice to share"
Key Stage 2 Teacher
At any of our centres, the activities are simply a vehicle for a learning opportunity. First, we work with you to understand the context of the group and the individuals, and then we work out a programme to meet your outcomes. The programme at Plas Gwynant is pretty fluid; we take in to account the changing weather conditions, the group, their energy levels and their progress. If they can be challenged further, or if we need to pull back a little we'll speak with you about adjusting the programme.
The activities will be delivered by a learning professional with the appropriate technical skill and qualifications, they will be fun, progressive and educational.
The options for hill walking and mountain scrambling are endless thanks to our spectacular location. For some groups, a gentle mountain walk is appropriate. For others, they might be keen to test themselves on some of our more rugged and rocky scrambles; Snowdonia's mountains are a magnificent asset, and we are ideally placed to take full advantage of our location.
Delivered well, mountain walking gives young people a real sense of achievement, knowing that they have accomplished a real personal challenge through their effort and determination. It places young people in a unique wilderness environment that can fill them with a sense of awe and wonder. We think that it's so special, and with such valuable learning moments, that we encourage groups to have a full day out in the mountains.
We take primary school groups as well as secondary schools and adults on a mountain adventure day that includes climbing a peak, rock scrambling, walking in streams, exploring small underground mines, and gaining a sense of achievement.... and thoroughly enjoying the day.
Snowdonia is one of the most popular climbing regions in Britain, and a course at Plas Gwynant is ideal for people to either take their first steps on the rock, or to challenge themselves further.
Rock climbing is an exhilirating and rewarding activity. When climbing with groups, we encourage individuals to "look after the ropes" for each other - actively involving all students rather than staff taking the lead. This provides an opportunity to develop trust and confidence in each other as well as working more effectively as a team.
There are a several crags available to us, with climbs of varying levels of difficulty which means that everybody can achieve success, regardless of starting point and confidnce level. It also means that those that demonstrate an aptitude for the sport can be tested to their limits!
At Plas Gwynant we can provide both canoeing and kayaking from a wide range of venues. For a novice year 6 group we might raft together open canoes at a sheltered location, providing a stable craft for those who are a little anxious. If the weather and tides are suitable, we can provide either canoe or kayak experiences on tidal estuaries. Slightly older or more confident students might undertake a kayak surf session at a nearby beach, or paddle down one of our local whitewater rivers.
Canoe sports offer a wide range of learning outcomes, from the team-building benefits of students paddling rafted open boats, to the independence and confidence gained from kayaking in a solo boat.
The Centre is only a 20 minute drive from the north Wales coast, and a trip to the beach has a lot to offer a wide range of ages. There are a host of rock climbing challenges close to the sand, from a simple traverse to tricky boulder problems. The nature of the rocks also allows for a wide range of whole team challenges to be undertaken.
The coastal environment also encourages exploration of the natural surroundings, from the flora and fauna of the rockpools to the geology of the beaches. It is an ideal venue for field studies, as well as complementing the John Muir Award courses that we offer at Plas.
Abseiling is walking backwards down a cliff using a rope and harness to slide down. Sometimes we abseil as part of a rock climbing session, but we regularly deliver it as a session on its own. There are venues very close to the Centre that are ideal; from small slabs perfect for first timers, to much bigger, overhanging cliffs that provide a real adrenaline rush.
As well as developing coordination and self-awareness, abseiling is a great activity for encouraging confidence. Once people have made that initial step over the edge, they invariably want to come back up for a second go. Oh yeah, and it’s great fun!
North Wales is well known for its mines and quarries, and the mines provide a unique environment for challenges and exploration of a very different nature. Students are kitted out with helmets and headtorches and invariably spend most of the day exploring underground.
Firstly, there is the physical challenge of navigating through the underground environment. Different mines and routes are selected with the group’s ability carefully taken into consideration; with relatively simple walking routes for less confident groups, and more technical climbing with the use of ropes for those that want a little extra!
Secondly, groups learn a little about the industrial history of the area, finding out what the mines were for, how they were mined, and some geology which is unique to the subterranean environment.
Gorge scrambling is essentially climbing waterfalls. Sounds like fun? It is! But we don’t always climb them – sometimes we slide back down! Again, Plas Gwynant is ideally located so that there are several gorges within a short drive or even walking distance.
There are different ways to gorge walk, depending on the group, the weather, the gorge, and the water levels. Sometimes we put on wetsuits and get wet from the start. Sometimes we use climbing skills to avoid getting totally immersed (although it usually happens in the end!)
As with all our activities, we tailor the gorge walking to the ability of the group, and different venues offer different challenges depending on the students. It is a great activity to encourage not only confidence and independence, but also team skills and empathy.
TEAM BUILDING & PROBLEM SOLVING
Many of our groups ask us to work on aspects of team building with the students. This might be communication, trust, empathy, problem solving or something else? While the adventurous activities above can all be tailored to suit such learning, a dedicated session devoted to team building can also pay dividends.
We have several challenges around the Centre grounds; some utilising natural phenomena such as small cliffs and trees, and others more contrived with other resources. All of these encourage groups to work together; talking, listening, and contributing ideas to achieve the common goal of solving the challenge.