I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but news from my old school recently has had me reminiscing and beginning to feel old. Firstly the last teacher who taught me (and was still at the school) retired this summer, and today I heard that the founder of the Adventure Training that constituted my annual holiday for two or three years died last week.
There are bits of my youth that I wish I had captured on film to assist my fading memory, and Adventure Training is one of them. As it is I just have my memories of riding large distances in a old Bedford army truck (with the hole in the floor which came in handy if you’d had a beer too many – much to the surprise of the people in the vehicle immediately behind). Of pitching camp, getting the Tilley lamps going, and making a brew over the Primus stove. And of the pain of getting to the top of Cairngorm, and down the Lairig Ghru in near white-out conditions, but how the scenery, the camaraderie, and the sense of achievement made it all worthwhile.
And yet, sadly, kids today are “protected” from schools organising much of this sort of stuff on the grounds that it is too dangerous. This is wrong in my view. When run properly adventure training is a great way to develop both peoples’ self-reliance and their teamwork, and also for them to learn how to be properly prepared when going out in the wilds. Yes, we had an occasion hacking up a stream bed on the slopes Mt Snowdon in winter when the diabetic member of our party fainted and went face down in the icy water. But we had the gear and the training to deal with it, a couple of people got a bit of extra exercise running down to alert the Mountain Rescue who came and took him off, and he was none the worse for wear. It sure beats spending hours in front of video games.
So to WMT: I wish you a long and happy retirement; thanks for the teaching in the Physics lab, and the encouragement on the hills – they are much appreciated.
And to the family of REH: my condolences; there are hundreds of people for whom Roger was a major factor in establishing the balance of self-reliance and team spirit that is a key part of growing up. We all owe him a great debt.