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Boys enjoy Swedish sea kayaking adventure of a lifetime

July 17th, 2015

Adventurous pupils from Monmouth School learnt about the importance of team work during an exciting five days of sea kayaking in Sweden.

The group of 13 boys from Year 9 and Year 11, have just returned home after taking to the seas to explore the wonderful Archipelago region during a fun-packed trip they’ll never forget.

Matt Peake, head of art and design and coordinator of CCF adventure training, led the group with Doctor James Harrison, head of history and coach of the School’s canoeing club.

Following their extremely early flight from Stansted, the group was met at Skavsta airport, about an hour away from Stockholm, by Thomas from ‘Do the North’ who offer self-guided kayak tours of the Archipelago region.

Monmouth School boys Sea Kayaking

An hour’s minibus drive took them to the small bay of St Anna where they were briefed and provided with their kayaking and camping kit, ready to depart on their sea adventure.

Mr Peake said: “Boys paddled in large, incredibly sturdy double kayaks with an impressive load-carrying ability.

“Pupils had to carry all of their camping kit, food and water to last them for the five day adventure.

“We thought the area was well-suited to such an expedition, as it comprises of over 6,000 islands to explore, most of which are uninhabited.

“Apart from yachts passing through the central navigational canal, we saw no other people and had a real sense of remoteness and freedom but also had the reassurance that support, if it was needed, was only a phone call away.”

Boys were able to navigate amongst the islands, often using them to shelter from strong winds.

“There were some quite exposed stretches of water to cross, with high winds and even a thunderstorm causing choppy seas,” Mr Peake continued.

“All of the boys showed character and determination, making amazing progress with morale barely dipping in testing conditions.”

Normally during the summer months, the weather in this area is settled, warm and sunny and the boys did have a few days of sunshine where they enjoyed some cliff-jumping and swimming.

Mr Peake said: “Boys had a romantic image that they would be living off freshly caught fish each day, cooked on open fires each evening.

“This was not to be the case.

“Without a single bite, they had to open their emergency tin of tuna!

“Food was planned and ordered in advance and each tent group cooked as a unit, giving consideration to the foods that were perishable and plan accordingly.

“There was a competitive edge to their evening meals, with lots of creative cooking with egg and bacon triple sandwiches along with marshmallows being a big hit.”

The pupils also learnt a new respect for their surroundings.

“With Sweden having a ‘right to roam’, pupils were able to explore and camp on most of these islands,” added Mr Peake.

“Some of the islands were nature reserves and the boys were lucky to see a large variety of sea birds, as well as osprey.

“Boys had to be sensitive to environmental issues, leaving each island exactly as they had found it, with no trace of their visit being visible.”

In preparation for the expedition, boys had enjoyed a bonding and planning day, which included sea kayak surfing at Ogmor beach.

Gavin Christmas, Monmouth School’s wonderful design and technology technician, also ran a workshop on camp-craft, safety and fire lighting skills.

Mr Peake said: “The opportunity to plan and prepare for an overseas sea kayaking expedition offered something a little bit different, and I believe this was the first expedition of its kind run by Monmouth School.

“Pupils returned to shore tired, with aching arms and a little bit smelly.”

The group enjoyed a few hours of exploring the historical textile town of Norrkoping and a well-earned visit to McDonald’s, before grabbing a hot shower and a few hours’ sleep at an airport hostel in preparation for their 4.30am flight check-in.

“All of the boys seemed really positive about their experience, having hopefully gained organisational and planning skills, an awareness of ecotourism, navigational and camp craft skills as well as realising the importance of team work,” said Mr Peake.

“I believe this was an adventure that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Click here to see all of the Swedish sea kayaking pictures in our Flickr gallery

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