TY trip to Carlingford

A First Hand account by Katie Sinnott and Donabelle Chiong

​We​ ​met​ ​that​ morning​ ​ outside​ ​ the​ ​ ​school  ​​at ​ half​ ​ ​six, ​ unable​​  to​ ​ see​ ​ due​ ​ to​ ​ the​ ​ ​darkness​  ​and the​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​none ​ of​ ​ us​ ​ ​were ​ ​even ​ nearly​ ​ awake​ ​ yet.​

There​ ​were​ ​three​ ​coach ​ buses​ ​ waiting​ ​ ​for​ us,​ ​ once​ ​ ​we ​ were​​  assigned​ ​ our​ ​ seats​ ​ we​ ​ all​ continued​ ​on​ ​with​ ​our​ slumber.​ ​ Somewhere​ ​​along​ the​ ​​border​ ​of​ ​Meath​ ​blue​ ​morning​ ​light began ​trickling​ ​ ​through ​ and​ ​ our​ ​ eyes​​  began​ ​ to​ ​ open.​ 

Soon​ ​ enough​ ​ the​ ​ sea​ ​ came​  ​into​ ​ view​ ​ and​ ​ we​ ​ arrived​ ​ in​ ​ ​the ​ quaint​ ​ town​ ​ of​​  Carlingford.​ It’s​ unapologetically​ ​ bright​ ​ colours​ ​ struck​ ​ us​ ​ mixed​ ​ with​ ​ ​the ​ old,​ ​ ​crumbling ​ remains​ ​ ​of​ ​a castle. ​ It​ ​ was​ ​ oddly​ ​ very​ ​ beautiful.​

Once​ ​we​ ​arrived​ ​at​ ​Carlingford Adventure Centre​ ​we ​​were ​​welcomed​ ​nicely,​ ​and​ ​were​ ​given​ ​a​ ​run-of-the-mill lecture ​ on​ ​ the​ ​ area.​ ​ Everyone​ ​ stayed​ ​ in​ ​ the​ ​ sports​ ​ hall​ ​ where​ ​ we​  ​we​​ ​were​ ​told​ our​​ ​activities for ​ the​ ​ day​ ​ and​ ​ the​ ​ groups​​  we​  ​were​ ​in.​ ​We​ ​all​ ​had​ ​different​ ​activities​ ​on​ ​at​ ​different​ ​times​ ​but​ ​our​ ​group’s​ ​first​ ​activity​ ​was​ ​the Sky​ ​Park, ​ we​ ​ walked​ ​ a​​  long​​ ​time​ ​through​ ​the​ ​muddy​ ​pathway​ ​which​ ​was​ ​surrounded ​ ​by thorn ​ bushes.​ ​ Even​ ​ though​ ​​our ​​newly​ ​bought​ ​clothes​ were​​ ruined​​ ​in​ ​a​ ​matter​ ​of ​​minutes​ ​we all ​ had​ ​ fun​ ​ trying​ ​ to​ ​ get​ ​ by.​ 

Lots​​ ​of​ people​  ​​did​ ​not​ ​warm​ ​to ​extreme​​ ​heights,​ ​fortunately​ ​there​ ​was ​a​​ ​good ​​mix​ ​of high ​ and​ ​ low​ ​ zip-line​ ​ courses​ ​ ​to ​ suit​​ ​the​ ​majority.​ ​Before​ anyone​ ​​was​ ​allowed​ ​to​ ​take ​ part​ they ​ had​ ​ to​ ​ wear​ ​ a​​  hairnet​ ​ ​and ​ ​sooner ​ then​ ​ ​later ​ all​​  you​​ ​could ​ see​ ​ if​​  you​ ​ looked​ ​ up​​ ​were dozens​ ​of​ ​dinner-ladies ​ hurling​ ​​through​ ​the​ ​sky ​on​​ ​cables,​ ​which​ looked​​ ​really ​​funny. 

When​ ​ we​ ​ returned​ ​ to​ ​ the​​  centre​ ​we​ ​ had​ ​ a​ ​ lunch​ ​ of​ ​ sausages​ ​ ​and ​ chips,​ ​ we​ ​ had​ ​ ​meals ​ ​in between​ ​all​ ​activities.​ We​​ ​would​ ​also​ ​have​ ​two​ hours​ ​​of​ ​free​ ​time ​ of​ ​ the​ ​ day.​​  They​ ​ would​ then​ ​announce​ ​different​ ​groups​ ​for​ ​the​ ​rooms.​ ​Each​ ​room​ ​had​ a​​ ​number​ ​of​ ​bunk​ ​beds​ ​and an ​ en​ ​ suite.​ 

​After​ ​lunch​ ​we​ ​grabbed​ ​our​ ​day-bags​ ​and​ ​headed​ ​down​ ​to​ ​the​ ​water. ​ We​ ​ were​ ​ each​ given​ ​a​ ​lukewarm ​​wetsuit​ ​and​ ​guided​ into​​ ​a​ ​changing​ ​room​ ​(which​ ​which​ ​was​ ​actually​ ​more like ​ a​​ ​cubbyhole ​ especially​ ​ when​ ​ you​​  put​ ​ ​thirty-odd ​ people​ ​ in​ ​ it).​ ​ Eventually​ ​ ​we ​ all​ ​ made​​  it​ into ​ the​​ ​water,​ in​​ ​twos​ to​ ​​a​ ​canoe.​ We​ ​ rowed​ ​ around​​  Carlingford​ ​ Loch​ ​ for​ ​ half​​  ​an ​ hour,​ shivering ​ as​ ​ we​ ​ sailed.​ ​ Finally​ ​ ​we ​​made ​ ​it ​ to​ ​ a​ ​ floating​ ​ platform.​ ​ There​ ​​was​ ​a ​​floating trampoline ​ attached​ ​ to​ ​ the​ ​ platform​ ​ which​ ​ ​the ​ instructor​​  would​ ​​pull ​ inwards​ ​ and​ ​ allow​ three-to-four​ ​people ​ to​ ​ jump​ ​ onto​​  at​ ​ a​ ​ time​ ​​before​ ​they​ ​would​ ​have​ to​​ ​submerge​ themselves​ into​ ​the​ ​icy​ ​green​ ​sea​ ​and​ ​swim​ ​back ​ to​ ​ the​ ​ ​safety ​ ​of ​ the​ ​ platform.​ ​ Some​ ​ brave​ ​ souls​ ​ dived​ straight​ ​into​ ​the​ ​sea​ ​and​ ​straight​ ​into​ ​regression.​ ​Although​ ​it​ ​was​ ​cold​ it​​ ​was​ ​really​ ​fun​ ​,​ ​we gathered ​ together​ ​ like​ ​ penguins​ ​ in​ ​ the​ ​ arctic.​ 

Soon​ ​enough​ we​​ ​returned​ home​ ​ ​for ​ a​ ​ hearty​ ​ dinner​ ​ of​  ​​spag-bol ​​and ​​garlic ​bread,​ ​​there ​were​ two ​different​ ​ evening​ ​ festivities​ ​ after​ ​ dinner,​​  our​ ​ group​ ​ had​​  ​to ​ divide​ ​ itself​​  into​ ​ teams​​  and​ take​ ​part​ in​ ​​a​ ​series​ ​of​ ​challenges.​ ​The​ ​series​ ​of​ ​challenges​ ​included​ building​ ​ a​​  tower​ ​ out​ ​ of​ team​ ​member’s​ ​shoes, ​ odd​ ​ balancing​ ​ acts,​ ​ a​ ​ relay​ ​ ​race ​ ​of ​ blowing​ ​ ​a ​ ping-pong​ ​ ball,​​  jumping​ really​ ​far​ ​away​ ​and​ ​worst ​ ​of ​ all;​ ​ their​ ​ most​ ​  inhumane​​ torture​​ ​known​ ​to​ man;​​ ​eating​ a​ Weetabix ​ dry.​ 

When​ ​all ​​the​ ​groups​ ​united​ ​later​ ​that ​ night​ ​ at​ ​ ​around ​ ​10 ​ p.m.​ ​ we​ ​ as​ ​ a​ ​ ​unit ​ begged​ ​ and​ pleaded ​ to​ ​ our​ ​ supervisors​ ​ ​to​ ​let​ ​us​ ​out​ ​to​ ​town,​ after​​ ​a​ ​long ​ time​ ​ they​​ surrendered​ ​ ​and​  ​let ​ us​ out.​ ​150​ ​teenagers​ ​lined​ ​up​ ​outside​ ​the​ ​smallest​ ​chippers​ ​in​ ​the​ ​country​ ​was​ ​either​ ​the lottery​ ​or​ ​the​ ​death ​ penalty​ ​ for​ ​ ​the ​ ​person ​ behind​ ​ ​the​ ​counter. 

Our​ ​ first​ ​ task​ ​ ​on  ​​our ​ second​ ​and​​ ​last ​day​​ ​took ​​place​ ​in​ ​the​ ​forest.​ Before​​ ​we ​were​​ ​let off ​ up​ ​ the​ ​ mountain,​ ​ we​ ​ had​​  to​  ​be​ ​ fitted​​ ​with​ ​the​ ​correct​ attire;​​ ​oversized ​​camouflage​ ​overalls and ​ a​ ​ gun.​ ​ Like​ ​ soldiers​ ​ heading​ ​ off​ ​ to​ ​ battle,​​  we​ ​ marched​ ​ up​  ​the​​ ​vertical ​​slope​ ​and ​​into​ ​the woods.​ ​There​ ​we​ ​were​ ​given ​ a​ ​ lesson​ ​ on​ ​ how​ ​ to​ ​ correctly​ ​ use​ ​ our​​ ​laser ​ guns,​ ​ split​​  in​ ​ half​ and​ ​sent​ ​out​ ​to​ ​kill​ ​each​ ​other. 

After​​ ​lunch,​ ​we​ ​had ​ ​our ​ activity​ ​ of​ ​ the​ ​ ​trip, ​ our​​  group​ ​ had​ ​ a​ ​​mash-up ​ of​ ​ archery,​ trampolining ​ and​ ​ then​ ​ an​ ​ odd​ ​ sort​ ​ ​of ​ ​thing ​ in​ ​ ​which ​ everyone​​  ​was ​ shut​ ​ into​ ​ ​a ​ shed​ ​ with​ ​ three​ shallow​ ​floors,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​dark​ ​and​ ​forced​ ​to​ ​find​ ​their​ ​way​ ​out. 

Finally,​ ​ we​ ​ trekked​ ​ ​the​ ​muddy​ ​trek​ ​back​ to​​ the​​ ​centre​ ​and​ ​to​ the​​ awaiting​​ buses,​​ ​ready to ​ take​ ​ us​ ​ home.​

It​​ ​was​ ​a​ ​really​ ​enjoyable​ ​trip, tiring,​ ​as​ ​so​ ​much​ ​was​ ​packed​ ​in​ ​but​ ​overall​ ​really​ ​fun. Sometimes​ ​the​ ​best​ ​things​ ​about​ ​these​ ​adventure​ ​holidays,​ ​that​ ​place​ ​you​ ​in​ ​a​ ​field​ ​of​ dirt,​​ ​or a ​​salty, ​ cold​ ​ ocean,​ ​ that​ ​ take​​  you​  ​​miles​ ​out​ ​of​ ​your​ ​comfort​ ​zone​ ​is​ ​the ​​coming​ ​home​ ​part. Which ​ sounds​ ​ terrible​ ​ but​  ​it’s​​ ​truly​ ​not,​ ​when​ ​you’re​ ​somewhere​ ​doing​ something​​ ​that​ ​scares you, ​ it​ ​ makes​ ​ things​ ​ seem​ ​ easier​ ​ ​back ​ at​ ​ home.​​  Whether​ ​ that​ ​ be​ ​ settling​ ​ into​​  a​ ​ new​​  class,​ developing ​ confidence​ ​ among​ ​ ​those​ ​around ​ you​ ​ or​ ​ just​ ​ pushing​ ​ yourself​​  to​ ​ try​ ​ something​ you’ve ​ never​ ​ done​ ​ before.​  That ​ I​ ​ think​ ​ is​ ​ the​ ​ ​best​ ​thing​ ​you​ ​can ​​get​ out​​ ​of​ ​a​ trip​​ ​like​ Carlingford.​  

A great time was had by all!!!