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Andy Hutchinson - Rhowniar, Wales, 1976
The corporation of my home town (Letchworth) used to sponsor local children to attend Outward Bound courses and, after an interview at the corporation offices with my mum, I was awarded with one. My parents drove me to Rhowniar, which was a fair old drive. My memories of the course itself are still quite vivid. I was a very pompous young boy - full of myself - but I had a reckoning on the course and came to terms with myself. I remember our instructor Doug and also some of the boys in my group and I also remember the trouble we got into for messing about after lights out. I was a heavy snorer even at that age and I snored so loudly that a couple of the boys put dead moths in my mouth while I was sleeping. I still have my diary from that course, 40 years ago and it makes me laugh how my hand-writing gets progessively worse and worse throughout it. Here are a couple of entries, "Saturday 14th Aug Today we left for Rhowniar. The family came to give one of those farewells that everyone dreads. The journey was fairly typical of journeys. Anyway we arrived at Rhowniar and I met my group for the first time. There are 13 in our dorm and as usual there are the jokes, the leaders, and the followers. I'm on a bottom bunk. The group are alright but there are teh usual clowns i.e. Errol. After putting my luggage in a cupboard and getting introduced to our instructor Dough, we went down to the pool and practiced capsizing. The group are Rus, Jim, Juan, Errol, Jez, Neil, Phil, Pete, Dave H, Dave C, Sean, Mike and me. We went to bed and promptly got our torches taken and Errol told jokes until 1 o'clock at night when he finally fell asleep." "Wednesday 18th August. Today we walked all day for 15 miles across 7 peaks, in a circle, which was knackering. Then we pitched our tents in a field." "Sunday 22nd August. Today we went surf canoeing which was brill. We used surf shoes for the canoes but after a while waves got too big, so we did some body surfing. In the afternoon we had our first aid workshop in which we played trust games like falling into each others arms. Then we did the 'come on' game. "Tuesday 24th August. Today we spent the day rock climbing at Barmouth, but the worst bit by far was when we did a 70ft abseil, and this was really bricking then we waked across the railway bridge over the estuary, to our camp by the sea. That evening we had a fire on the beach." "Saturday 28th August. Today we did community service on the Tallylyn Narrow Guage Railway. We arrived and all piled into a work train, which took us down the line to where we were to work. We got out and piled up some sleepers by the side of the track, then we set to the task given us. This involved digging out all of the old balast and throwing it to one side. We did 350 yards of the pick and shovel work, with a stop every now and then for a train coming past or bringing a crate of Lilt. After this we went to Tywyn. Dough was in a bad mood, so he gave us exactly 15 minutes. After buying all I wanted I went back to the minibus to find that I was the only one back in time, so I got a minibus trip home on my own and the others got a 1/2 hour wak from Tywyn. In the evening we played dorm 2 at volleyball and beat them 15-8. Dave left." "Thursday 2nd August." Today we got up and walked home to Rhowniar, really hard work, but we back 2nd out of us all, after walking the furthest (57k). We all got in and collapsed. In the evening I had a chat with Doug. He said I well desrved my badge and that I had done a very good course."