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St Thomas Aquinas

Year 6 Transition

A great experience at Alton Castle

On Wednesday 30th March 80 year 8 went to Alton Castle for 3 days on a religious retreat. Students came into school in their own clothes with their luggage, prepared for a retreat of a lifetime. The students left at 9:30 for the coach; it was a 2-hour journey. Once the students got to Alton Castle, they went to a discovery centre and were welcomed warmly by the team.

The students were spilt into two groups to do some team building activities to get accustomed to their new home for the next few days and each other. We were split up into our respective venues: boys into their dorms, girls into the Pugin room. In the Pugin room the girls had their welcome assembly where they were introduced into the religious aspect of this retreat and what they would be doing there; then the children switched places, enthusiastic to begin activities.

After lunch, we were introduced to our groups: Pugin, Talbot, Kenelm, Scahill, De Verden, and Carmel. Each group was set onto their main activities: Survival, Low ropes, Trekking, and Mountain Biking.

The survival activity consisted of three main parts: making a fire, making shelter, and learning about the unsafe water sources for many refugees. This was followed by some meditation much like all the other activities. Another main activity was low ropes; low ropes are a course designed for kids that has a series of puzzles that requires tactical thinking to pass, and the children had great fun working things out. The two-hour trek tested our pupils' perseverance and their sense of fun. This trek provided beautiful scenery and gave us a chance to focus on Gods beautiful creation. Our students got nice and muddy as they travelled along the track. We returned to base not only with smiles but with clay on our faces.

Prayer and meditation
We were all introduced to new, more unconventional means of praying. Every day was started and ended with a prayer. Meals were ended with a chant which put a smile on everyone's faces.

Meditation was practiced every day and we were challenged with big questions letting us reflect on who we are. Children were taken before, after or during the activities to sit down and have a moment of peace. A piece of scripture was read out and we reflected upon what it meant for us as humanity and Gods on creation.

The students enjoyed a range of meals and drinks throughout our retreat. There was a different variety of food at Alton, there were vegetarian options and more and it was very healthy.

Merryl - 8MA