Q&A | Mclean Primary School at Fordell Firs
It’s not just Scout groups which enjoy the outdoor adventure at Fordell Firs National Activity Centre, our residential experiences also benefit schools. We asked McLean Primary School in Dunfermline to tell us about their recent trip to Fordell Firs.
What age group did you take to Fordell, how long did you stay and what did you do there?
We took 48 Primary 5s to Fordell for a two-night residential trip. The children took part in a wide range of activities including abseiling, caving, the 3G swing, grass sledging, Didi cars, bungee trampolining, archery, bushcraft, night-walk, orienteering, the challenge course and climbing.
Why did you choose Fordell Firs National Activity Centre?
Last year's Primary 5s had previously attended a two-night residential stay and we had been really impressed by the range of activities and quality of instruction they received.
For this year's group, it was the children’s first experience of a residential school trip so the proximity of Fordell was also a key factor in our decision. The young people were able to gain experience of staying away without being too far from home. This also helped us to plan the trip with an ethos of inclusion. A small number of children were unable to stay overnight so being local meant that they were able to attend for the day and participate in most of the activities with their classmates, rather than missing out.
What were you hoping to achieve from your outdoor residential?
We wanted the children to gain experience of a wide range of physically and emotionally challenging activities to help develop their coordination, fitness, self-esteem and resilience. We also wanted them to gain some of the skills and confidence necessary to participate in a range of outdoor activities, such as walking and camping, and to develop an appreciation of spending time outdoors. Perhaps most importantly, we wanted them to have the opportunity to develop their thinking, communication and team-working skills in a fun and healthy context.
In what ways did Fordell Firs meet your needs?
Fordell met our needs very well. The children were encouraged to work together, problem solve, try new activities and to push themselves throughout their stay. The staff were very knowledgeable and were able to quickly establish trusting relationships with the children, which were particularly beneficial in helping them to continue with activities when they were feeling unsure. The accommodation provided in the new Sir Garth Morrison Lodge was lovely, and the children were very comfortable throughout their stay.
Why is it important that young people have access to outdoor residentials like this?
We believe that outdoor residentials are very important for young people. Many young people now spend a large proportion of their time indoors and are not getting the opportunity to hone their outdoor skills or develop an appreciation of being outside. Residential experiences, like the ones offered at Fordell, allow them to develop a wide range of skills in a challenging, but supportive, natural environment together with their peers.
What did the children learn from their residential?
Many mentioned that they had surprised themselves, both in terms of their ability to participate in the activities offered and to overcome their fears in certain situations. Most said that they were really pleased that they had pushed themselves to go further than they expected they would and that they had learned to take the opportunity to try different activities, even if they felt unsure about them. Hopefully, these are skills that they will take forward and apply to their studies and other areas of their lives too.
Scouts Scotland has been delivering outdoor learning to young people for more than 100 years. As a Learning Away partner, we support the Brilliant Residentials campaign to encourage more young people to experience high-quality residentials, which can lead to improved resilience, relationships, achievement and brighter, brilliant futures for young people.
We do this by delivering our residentials to the evidence-based principals set out in Learning Away’s Brilliant Residentials study, and by offering a wide range of outdoor learning support for schools.