BB Junior Section Weekend to Ardanbannon 2017

Junior Section at Ardnabannon

Last Friday myself and 3 other brave BB officers took on the task of taking 20 Junior Section BB boys on a trip to Ardnabannon Outdoor Education Centre. With P5’s only just back from a school trip, we didn’t quite know what to expect. And when our bus wouldn’t start at Granshaw, we feared that the rest of the weekend would follow in a similar fashion.

I’m glad to say it didn’t. After an almost miraculous recovery from the bus, we took off to a mediterranean Castlewellan. The weekend was full of fantastic activities which included; bouldering up Bloody Bridge, abseiling and rock climbing, orienteering, archery, high ropes, zipline, and of course a camp fire with smores. Not one minute of the weekend was wasted.

The boys were brilliant all weekend. Not only did they all learn how to make up a bed (kind of), they also pushed themselves out of their comfort zones by climbing 30ft poles, abseiling off quarries and belly flopping into rock pools (Luke G the belly flop king!!). Personally, to see boys face their fears and reach personal achievements was my favourite point of the whole weekend. They proved to themselves and to their friends what character and courage they all had.

It is always a pleasure to take kids from Granshaw away on a weekend; to see them grow and experience new things. It’s encouraging to watch them look out for one another, and cheer each other on in the scarier, more challenging moments. And it makes the officers proud to see them behaving so well and treating the staff at the centre with good manners. They did our BB company and our church proud.

Finally, the whole weekend wouldn’t have been the same without the fantastic staff at Ardnabannon OEC. The ladies in the kitchen catered for every need that our group had, and did it all with a smile. Simon and Martyn our instructors went over and above the call of duty in offering activities for the boys and keeping them all safe and having fun.

Unfortunately, the Education Authority has made the decision to close Ardnabannon in the near future. During the weekend, we as officers found ourselves reflecting on what a shame it is that such a brilliant facility is going to be closed down. The services it offers allows boys and girls of all ages and backgrounds to experience outdoor activities in a residential context for a very reasonable price, and I believe that our kids develop character and a sense of adventure from the experience that Ardanbannon offers, something a text book can't offer. I would encourage you to take 2 minutes of your time today to sign the online petition below to save Ardnabannon from closure.

https://www.change.org/p/save-ardnabannon-outdoor-education-centre-from-closure

I, and the rest of the BB officers want to thank all the boys for being such great kids this weekend. For throwing themselves into every activity and for having lots of fun. I also want to thank the staff of Ardnabannon for catering for us. And finally I would like to thank Gavin, Rod and Graeme for volunteering to make the weekend happen.

I look forward to many more weekends in Ardnabannon.

AK