Sunday, 07 August 2022

Children’s challenges continue virtually

CHILDREN from the Henley area have been taking part in virtual competitions against other schools.

Stephen Lamacraft started the Children’s Challenge three years ago, taking groups of children on expeditions to places such as the Brecon Beacons.

Since then he has expanded it by establishing expedition societies at schools across South Oxfordshire and he has taken advantage of the coronavirus lockdown by organising a series of online challenges to keep children active.

For each activity children are asked to walk, run or cycle a certain distance, such as Land’s End to John o’ Groats (1,047km) in seven days.

Pupils from Shiplake Primary School achieved the biggest total distance of 3,829km, with Sonning Common primary (3,340km) and Peppard primary (2,555km) all beating the target easily.

Peppard (25.8km) and Shiplake (23.8km) achieved the best average distance per pupil.

Mr Lamacraft said: “I wanted to think of what we could do given the current situation and kids love a reason to get out and push themselves and competing against other schools.

“Everyone can go out for a walk and it doesn’t matter if you just do 2km, it is about how many troops you can mobilise.

“I have had such positive feedback from the schools saying the children were excited on a daily basis to see where they were and it got quite competitive towards the end.

“The more schools that are involved, the more kudos there is for being the best and I want it to be as competitive as possible.”

Mr Lamacraft, who lives in Shiplake with his wife Andrea and four children, organises the annual Children’s Challenge, a cross-country race on the Culden Faw estate, near Hambleden.

He had planned to hold expeditions to Exmoor this month and the Peak District in June but had to cancel these.

Mr Lamacraft said: “It has been quite tough because we have had to issue refunds and it was not the most auspicious start for the expedition societies.”

Other primary schools taking part include Woodcote, Nettlebed, Kidmore End, Crazies Hill Primary, Sonning Common, Stoke Row Primary and Trinity in Henley as well as Robert Piggott Infant and Junior Schools in Wargrave.

Mr Lamacraft said the best performing school was Shiplake primary, adding: “The school has been a pioneer in the concept of expedition societies for primary school families.

“Given many of the families are veterans of 24km hikes on Exmoor and six-hour winter ascents of Pen y Fan [in the Brecon Beacons], the school’s ability to dig deep and revel in the challenge comes as no surprise.

“Thank you very much to all schools, families and members of staff that took part. It was an incredible event and all schools approached it with real enthusiasm and gusto.

“It was a tremendous undertaking and one that the children should remember for a very long time.”

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