Bright and early on Monday 27th March, 27 students from Merchants’ Academy and MHS, accompanied by their teachers, boarded a coach destined for the Outward Bound camp in Aberdovey, Snowdonia, all feeling excited at the prospect of spending a week in the great outdoors. But, how did it all begin?
Earlier this year, a group of students from across Merchants’ Academy and MHS were invited to take part in an incredible opportunity delivered by the Outward Bound Trust. The week-long adventure, referred to as ‘Marvin’s 100’, came about after Mayor Marvin Rees created a challenge to send 100 young people from Bristol schools on an Outward Bound adventure. Marvin himself took part in an Outward Bound course as a teenager, an opportunity that he describes as a key factor in helping him strive to reach his full potential by escaping the city’s physical and cultural boundaries, climbing hills and mountains and experiencing awe.
With a desire for all young people in Bristol to have access to opportunities and adventures that could change their lives for the better, Marvin teamed up with Bob Jennings, the chair of Avon Outward Bound. Bob also happens to be the teacher who encouraged Marvin several decades ago to sign up for an expedition to Scotland and then the Arctic.
Alongside a subsidy and grant from the Outward Bound Trust and Avon Outward Bound Association, full financial sponsorship was secured, primarily from donations given by several members of SMV. Crucially, this meant that the opportunity could be offered at no cost to the schools or the families invited to take part. To students who were considering whether to take up the offer, Marvin told them: “You might get wet, you might get cold, you might get tired and feel outside of your comfort zone. But you will overcome the challenges and feel great”.
The outdoors programme has been designed to build the self-confidence and self-esteem of each participant, based on the belief that young people are able to learn and embrace opportunity when they feel well, safe, happy and confident. The other schools taking part are Bristol Brunel Academy, City Academy Bristol, Oasis John Williams, Bristol Metropolitan Academy and Bridge Learning Campus.
Outward Bound is an educational charity that inspires young people to take on adventures, overcome challenges and develop confidence and self-belief. With outdoor learning courses designed for every individual group, young people are given the confidence to tackle the real world head on.