07 Oct Three Types of Fun
Do you know that there is a fun scale? That is, at least when it comes to the spending time in the great outdoors. Enthusiasts will tell you that there are three types of fun.
Type one fun, put simply, is fun – before, during and afterwards. It could be a walk on a summer’s day, when everything seems to be going your way, the weather is perfect and the company convivial. Great times, good memories, but the film rights are unlikely to be snapped up anytime soon.
Type three fun is at the other end of the spectrum and is generally best avoided. Type three fun is at no point, fun – in anticipation, in retrospect, and certainly not during it. This is the stuff of failed polar expeditions, or of kayaking solo across the Atlantic. You’re likely soaked to the skin, in constant discomfort, with a permanent and justified sense of impending doom. Even when you get back to civilization, type three fun brings with it more of a sense of relief rather than a warm glow of achievement. Of course, many of the greatest human endeavours and expeditions fall into this category, at least to some degree, but it’s not something most of us would voluntarily immerse ourselves into.
"Aspects of Activity Week are demanding, unfamiliar and will at times include periods of discomfort. But this is true of almost anything that takes us out of our comfort zone and proves to ourselves what more we are capable of."
Type two fun is the interesting one. At the time, it doesn’t feel very much fun at all. You’re pushing yourself to the limits. There are a thousand other places you could be and things you could be doing which would be more comfortable. But afterwards, as you admire the view after an arduous climb or a long day rafting downriver, and reflect on the day’s achievements, you’re engulfed by a tremendous sense of accomplishment and wellbeing. And by the time you’ve made it home, the effort and aches are all but a distant memory and you’re planning your next adventure.
In a week’s time, around 500 students and 80 staff will be heading out for Activity Week, experiencing everything from the challenge of trekking through the Himalayas, to an immersive week living and learning with local rural communities. Honed over many years, these age-appropriate activities are designed not just to be enjoyable, but to build resilience and foster personal growth and development. Our alumni look back at these experiences as some of the most memorable and character-forming of their time at Woodstock.
Make no mistake, among the adventure and excitement, there will be times when the fun will definitely be of the type two variety. Aspects of the programme are demanding, unfamiliar and will at times include periods of discomfort. But this is true of almost anything that takes us out of our comfort zone and proves to ourselves what more we are capable of.
"Enabling students to try new experiences and go beyond the realms of the everyday is a powerful opportunity for learning. This approach is not just about teaching new skills and knowledge, but building the foundations on which they can grow to be confident, resilient and well-rounded adults."
Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is someone who’s well versed in both type two and type three fun. He has said, “Whenever feasible, pick your team on character, not skill. You can teach skills; you can’t teach character”.
On one level I would agree with him. Character is not something you can teach, but something that has to come from within. What you can do is provide a safe and structured environment in which students can test and build character, often in ways they may not fully realise the benefits of until much later.
The challenges of the outdoors can help develop some of the most valuable aspects of one’s character – confidence, determination and teamwork, to name but a few. Our Activity Week adventures have been deliberately devised to bring out the best of these traits in our students. Enabling students to try new experiences and go beyond the realms of the everyday is a powerful opportunity for learning. This approach is not just about teaching new skills and knowledge, but building the foundations on which they can grow to be confident, resilient and well-rounded adults.
Activity Week is also of course, fun, with plenty of the type one variety (and none of type three). But there will also be some type two fun – and this, perhaps, is where the magic happens.
Dr Craig Cook, Principal
Photos: Top: Kedarkantha trek, 2018
Middle: The 2018 Friendship Peak expedition, Faisal Qadir, Class of 2019.
Bottom: Spiti Valley mountain biking, 2016.