Our OPC Experience
With thanks to student reporter, Ryah Chandler and Matthew Ellis
Excitement. Anxiety. Expectation. More excitement!
Before heading down, all of us had heard amazing things about OPC. There was a mixed feeling of emotions as we departed from College but all twenty students were buzzing and, by the time we arrived, the mood was electric! We were early to bed for an early start with the knowledge that a day of adventure was to follow.
Of all the activities at OPC, caving probably challenged us the most; it required a lot of mental strength before we could begin to enjoy being underground with running water in enclosed spaces! We crawled, climbed and clambered through rock and earth, squeezing through very tight spaces and holes. It was little short of terrifying, having to take off our packs and push them through the water in front of us, owing to the fact that we wouldn’t fit through with them on.
And then there was the high ropes course - not easy for those with a fear of heights but what a fantastic feeling when you manage to climb to the top of the infamous 20 metre pole and conquer your fear to jump and catch the trapeze hanging a couple of metres away! Abseiling over a 30 metre cliff (once you’d overcome your fear of the cliff edge) was peanuts in comparison - well almost!
Whilst not as physically challenging, some of the team building exercises challenged our thinking and required plenty of co-operation in another confined space - six people, three planks and a lot of swampy water to cross without getting anyone wet!
It was the day of the tramps that we faced our biggest challenge of all. The two groups headed off to the mountains, planning to climb the ‘devil’s staircase’, traverse across a mountain top using our pickaxes, and slide down the snow to finish. However, after an hour of walking, we were called to a halt. One of our friends had developed a severely painful stomach condition. The next few hours were a time of intense physical effort as we all worked together to manoeuvre her on a stretcher down the mountain to a point where search and rescue could take over and transport her to hospital. This was an intensely physical and emotional day as we worried for our friend’s well being.
OPC was an amazing experience. The role modelling from the OPC staff was incredible and we learnt a great deal not just about outdoor pursuits and leadership but also how to cope in a real emergency situation. We would like to thank the staff for their wonderful organisation and for giving up their time to allow us this opportunity.