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Adventurous Bristol children with wind in their sails

A Bristol school is leading the Wettest Classroom on Earth, a project seeing more than 100 children wave goodbye to the classroom and sail to Sweden

Posted by Julian Owen | August 04, 2018 | School life

An exciting new venture called the Wettest Classroom on Earth is set to see students from across the country, representing mainstream and special schools, sailing around the British coast and across the North Sea and the Baltic to Stockholm. 

The voyages are scheduled to take place from June 23 to August 5, 2019, setting sail from Liverpool. Students will take part in four-day legs, averaging 200 miles each, meaning that in total 108 shipmates will be involved. 

The project is a collaboration between the Bristol-based Venturers Trust and three other organisations: Whole Education, Extreme Classrooms, and Kunskapsskolan, and is being led by the principal of Venturers’ Academy, Trystan Williams, and Bristol-based polar explorer Alan Chambers. 

Mr Williams has been involved in similar education-based challenges, including the 'Highest Classroom on Earth' in the Himalayas in 2014. “New experiences on this scale, managed and delivered by professionals to ensure the safety of everyone involved, can quite literally be life changing for young people,” he said. 

“Our motto at Venturers’ Academy is ‘Where Everything’s Possible’ and, when young people can experience this for themselves, their day-to-day goals - as well as their aspirations for the future - are transformed.” 

21 secondary school pupils from Venturers’ Academy, a school in south Bristol for children with a primary diagnosis of autism – together with five ten-year-olds from a mainstream primary, The Dolphin School in Montpelier, also part of Venturers Trust - took part in a selection camp in Snowdonia during July, alongside other students from around the country. 

 

A total of 166 children, including some from Knowle DGE school in south Bristol, were involved in the selection camp. This included sleeping under canvas and tackling a mountain scramble, orienteering, a coastal walk, swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding on one of the deepest lakes in the country.

“Everyone who took part in the selection has the potential to make it to the next stage,” said Mr Williams. Those selected will take part in sailing and other training activities. 

The Venturers Trust students who participated in the selection camp were funded by the Trust’s Endowment Fund. The Trust is sponsored by the Society of Merchant Venturers (SMV) and the University of Bristol. Simon Cooper, a member of SMV and a governor of Venturers’ Academy, joined the trip for two days. “The depth of commitment required to bring together an event like this is extraordinary,” said Mr Cooper.

“Students embraced every challenge with such enthusiasm, encouraged every step of the way by their peers and the highly experienced staff team. The expedition next year will be incredible.” 

Mr Williams added: “We are extremely grateful to all our supporters and we welcome input from any other businesses or individuals who would like to get involved with this project.”

 

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