On Saturday 19th July, 28 excited Prep boys arrived at Camp AzuRivage in southern France. Depsite the 11 hour journey, the boys were in high spirits as they were shown to their 'luxurious' tents by the Rockley staff. After a light supper everyone was ready for bed and it did not take long for the excited whispers to be replaced by the sound of crickets chirping.
The boys awoke eagerly on Sunday to perfect sailing conditions. In fact, the boys were so eager to start sailing that many decided to save time and eat their breakfast with their wet suit already on! Nevertheless, after a thorough ‘Sun Cream 101 Lesson’ by Mr Toose and ‘Why Water Is Important” speech by Mr Marrow, the boys went off on their first sailing session. Everyone began by being split into ability groups. For some this was their first time rigging a boat. For others this trip was becoming an annual trip so it was important that all levels of sailing could be supported. Regardless of which group they found themselves in, every one returned from the first morning with an enormous smile on their face and, more importantly, holding an empty water bottle!
The afternoon was equally enjoyable and after hanging up their wet clothes to dry, Mr Halls and Mr Houghton took the boys for a competitive game of football against French holiday makers on the purpose built 3G pitch. Just before supper the boys had their first, of many, tent inspections. Led by Mrs Quanrud and Mr Toose every tent was marked on cleanliness, tidyness and presentability. This quickly became a daily tradition and by the end of the week boys could be seen trying to bribe judging officials with Harribo, write personalised welcome notes into the ground in front of the tent or attempt to sway opinion by strategically placing music speakers and playing popular music.
The first few days followed in much the same way. Every morning Ms Cornevin would greet the boys with Bonjour and their responses would vary between an energetic “Bonjour Miss”, a sleepy “Bonjour Miss”, a sleepy “Good Morning Miss” or simply a grumble... (we tried). The weather remained ideal with sun shining and a prevailing westerly wind. On Wednesday the boys had a day off from sailing and were taken to ‘Aqualand’. Despite leaving under heavy rainclouds they arrived with blue skies. After another ‘Sun Cream 101 Lesson’ and ‘Why Water Is Important’ speech the boys sped off in groups of 4 exploring the countless rides. As boys intermittently returned to ‘check in’ with staff, they excitedly shared their ever changing hierarchy of ‘The fastest and scariest ride’ (for those who want to know it was a close draw between ‘Boomerang’ and ‘Black Hole’...).
That evening the boys played mini golf on the course next to the camp site. Everyone split off into groups and tried to complete the 18 holes. That evening we all lost track of time and as we walked back to the tents happy and laughing it became clear that this residential was quickly becoming a memorable holiday.
The final two days went quickly. Unfortunately the wind fluctuated between being too fast or non existent. Despite this, the Rockley staff were excellent at using the inclement weather to go over theory whilst maximising the good conditions by going on the water. By the end of the week every single boy improved their sailing skill. Whether that was the the novice who learnt how to sail or the proficient sailer who reached the next level.
Each boy will undoubtably have their favourite memory. As staff, we cannot help but feel enormous pride in the group of boys we took out to France. Not only did they all come back having achieved something new, they were a credit to the school from start to finish. Their good manners were noticed by all the Rockley staff as well as the staff from other schools. Their behaviour was impeccable throughout but most of all they worked as team and helped each other. Whether that was the experienced sailer giving advice to a struggling novice, or using their individual strengths to ensure their tents were harmonious and clean. It was a fantastic week for the boys and one which they will hopefully remember for many years to come.