On a rainy Monday morning in September, the Fourth Years gathered outside the school, excitedly awaiting their first ever school trip away. Packed with clothes and sweets and some more clothes, our bags were so big that they would surely put first years to shame. We set off at 10.15am for our hour and a half long journey to Carlingford, Co. Louth. The time passed quickly as we kept ourselves occupied singing (‘Call Me Maybe’ featured heavily!) and chatting the whole way down.
On arrival, we were greeted by the instructors. Our head instructor, Liamo, explained the rules and guaranteed us all that we’d have a “brillo pad” time. We were then escorted to our rooms. The rooms ranged from high end apartments, complete with a TV, kitchen and living room, to basic, cupboard sized rooms with little more than a pair of bunk beds and a sink! We were, however, kept busy all week and therefore didn’t get to see much of our rooms. We then got our first taster of what our meals for the week would entail-chips, beans and a meat of some description, or for the vegetarians among us, a lovely fried aubergine. It tasted surprisingly good after spending the whole day outside in the wet, the wind and the bitter cold!
It wasn’t long before we were out in the pouring rain doing wild and wonderful things. We started off with zorbing. Two girls strapped into a giant inflatable hamster ball and pushed down a hill–you can imagine the screaming and shouting (and the odd obscenity)! This was definitely the most exciting if not the scariest activity of the trip.
Our next challenge was the high ropes. We had all heard about them and very little could have prepared us for what lay in store. The fact that we were completely harnessed in, with helmets on did nothing to still our shaking hands and jelly legs. The course consisted of three different challenges, two of which were team building exercises. We started off on ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, where we had to hang on for dear life to people on our team, as we tried to scale the giant swinging ladder. Next was the incline log and tightrope. This simply involved walking across a log-easier said than done when the log is situated 20 feet above ground. But that was nothing compared to the next obstacle. Sitting on a long wooden pole that was 35 feet tall, a square piece of metal the size of a pizza box was used as a platform upon which, four girls had to stand, link arms and lean back as far as they could, we’re sure the screams could be heard for miles.
The idea of water activities brought great excitement; we had an amazing time raft building, kayaking and Canadian canoeing. From doing the Macarena standing up in a boat, to jumping from boat to boat, nearly everyone had fallen out of their kayak by the end of the day. One of the highlights of the water sports was pier jumping. For anyone who’s been to the 40 foot in Dublin, you’d have a good idea of what it’s like. But for those of us who had never jumped off anything before it was a shock to the system, but great craic, although
some people chose the smaller jump. Everyone dived in about once or twice, except for Kelli Tate, who took the plunge six times!
The nights, even though there were no activities, were just as fun. Every night fun, Chinese and parties were on the menu. On the last night, the attempt to have a rave in the downstairs common room was an epic fail, lasting for no more than thirty seconds of Steve Aoki’s Turbulence before it ‘got out of hand’. Martin, one of the instructors, ended up chasing us all back to our rooms! We had a good last night, despite making such a racket and almost driving the teachers insane, (which we’re very sorry about, by the way!).
On our final morning in Carlingford, the mood was mixed as we anticipated our departure. Some were excited to be going home, while others would have loved to stay for another week. After another predictable lunch we gathered in the courtyard for the final goodbyes and a group photo. On the return journey, the atmosphere couldn’t have been more different than on the way down. There was snoozing and plenty of yawning as we headed home. We’re sure the teachers preferred this to our brilliant, yet admittedly loud singing on the journey to Carlingford. As the bus pulled up outside the school, we were brought back to reality and normal life resumed.
Many unforgettable memories were made during our five day trip to Carlingford. We faced fears, learned new skills and generally became closer with our whole year. It was definitely one of the best experiences we’ve had in Our Lady’s so far.