Bristol CC Outdoor Education Centre situated in the village of Parkend in The Forest of Dean

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

DFSC Spring 2018 Update

 Spring 2018 brought its challenges with snow and cold weather at times. And when it melted our pond flooded!
Despite this we carried on running some very successful outdoor learning courses, predominantly with Year 4 groups, who got on with things despite the weather. They had great fun and dealt with all the challenges with great resilience.
 A lot of our developments over the last few months have been the sort that don't visually stand out but are nevertheless important maintenance and upgrades, particularly for safety. E.g our main fire staircase has had new landing platforms installed and has been completely painted. It has gone form being white to black, to be less intrusive to the architecture of the building.

Also just visible, top right, is a new upgraded lightning conductor and surge protection device that have been installed to comply with new regulations.
 The stair treads all have new high visibility non-slip plates on them so that they can be easily seen.
 Also related to fire safety, we have been replacing all our bedroom fire doors with new more modern fire doors. There are also some new emergency lights in the building and again we have spent £000's upgrading some of our lighting to be more efficient and offer greater security and safety.
Another small electrical addition has been a new water boiler to the kitchen in the Garden Room. This now greatly facilitates making hot chocolate for 60+ students when they're having their disco or talent show evening. 
 In February we ran a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Inspection Training Course. This was attended by 12 Instructors from various Outdoor Centres around the country. It provided useful additional training in the best ways to inspect and record checks on all climbing related equipment.
 Every item is individually coded and reference to its serial number for inspection twice a year in addition to its pre-use check.

Obviously safety is a key priority when looking after our groups but we do still try to keep our activities exciting and adventurous and sometimes there remains an element of risk that is integral to the challenge. Our crate stacking is a good example of this and we have recently uploaded a new You Tube video of this in action - see below. Our risk/benefit assessment manages the main hazards but there remains the possibility of being hit by a falling crate or getting bumped when the stack collapses. An element of unpredictability keeps the activity exciting for all concerned. The benefits in terms of developed teamwork, communication skills, trust and cooperation etc. outweigh the risks and provide learning outcomes that would not be so easily attained with a mundane non-adventurous challenge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq3s_CPQQgQ 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Winter 2018 Update

The beginning of January saw us busy with the usual Winter jobs of painting and filling in potholes in the carpark etc.

We've also been making some welcome new developments at the Centre

The dining room now has special acoustic muffling panels installed on the ceiling to reduce the noise of voices in the room. So far visiting staff are very pleased with the improvement!

The dining room also has a nice new heater on the wall that even just visually helps to thaw you out after a chilly morning outside!

We've added some new emergency torches to all the staff bed rooms that are on a constant top up charge and flash on in the event of a powercut

We've already welcomed our 9th group of 2018 to the Centre and groups have been enjoying their activities and getting back to a warm and cosy house. Spring however  is hopefully just around the corner...

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Christmas 2017 Special

In our last week before Christmas our resident group arrived to a snow covered Forest of Dean

The Centre Grounds had a good covering of snow

Team Challenges continued as usual

We got our High Challenge Course cleared so that all the groups could still Zip, Climb and Leap

We did however make the most of the snow and walked a short way to a snow slope to do some sledging

Back at the Centre we thawed everyone out in our 5 star Dining Room! - we've yet again just been awarded 5 stars by the Food Standards Agency

Click on the link below to see a new short video of our lovely kitchen staff preparing Christmas Dinner for a hungry group of 80 people

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Autumn 2017 Update

Autumn is here and the Virginia Creeper on the outside wall of the Centre is turning its beautiful red colour again.

Also colourful are the 10,000 colourful soft play balls that we have now put inside one of our Tunnel chambers. This has created a ball pit 'sump'.

The Ball Pit Sump is proving to be a very popular challenge. Click on the video above to see a short video of what it involves

We have also been busy creating a few more bed spaces for the occasions we have some extra large groups staying. There are now a few rooms which now include a triple bunk that can be used when the house is full with up to 95 people residential. NB Our normal maximum group size is 72 which allows one sitting for meal times instead of two.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Summer 2017 Update

Since our last post we've welcomed many more groups of young people to the Centre

 We now have a new sign up in the backyard and it is proving popular as a good place to take a photo of the whole group underneath it. The wild flower roof above is at it's best at the moment!

Also looking good is the wild flower meadow roof on the Garden Room across the road.

The garden itself has had some work done including a new BBQ area and 'Altar' fire pit, that are being regularly enjoyed by groups.

The new fire was used at a recent wedding reception held here

Behind the wedding party you can just make out a new willow hedge and archway in the photo below

we have added a few new videos to our You Tube Channel like the one above showing a group doing a stream study

We have also added our first video tour of part of the Centre. The one above showing the lounge, visiting staff kitchen and tuck shop. We hope to add further orientation videos over time.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Spring 2017 Update

 We've been very busy over the last few weeks with building work at the Centre. It's all now finished and ready for our residential groups to enjoy.

We have 3 very able caretakers / maintenance workers who can turn their hand to many jobs including building work. We now have two very well appointed showers in an area of the Centre known as the Flat. Pete's 'block-work style' tiling is second to non as users will appreciate in these modern and functional showers rooms. They even have a heated towel rail, a folding seat and a sink to brush your teeth! Mirror also installed since photo.

The other big project completed by our in-house maintenance team is a refurbishment of the visiting staff kitchen off the lounge. It now features a water boiler for making hot chocolate drinks for groups before bedtime along with a dishwasher to put the mugs in afterwards.

Cupboards are well stocked with drinks and biscuits and there are also ample spare cupboards to store personal items in. Notice boards provide easy reference for information about the centre and there are plenty of power sockets to charge up electrical equipment.

In the Winter Blog post we included a cryptic photo of a £100k refurbishment project underway. We can now reveal the completed project. Our ground floor shower room has been completely gutted (new walls, ceiling and floor) and fitted out with toilets & 10 shower and changing cubicles. Photo's do not really do it justice as they can't show it's entirety.

We now have 10 new showers and integral changing cubicles plus two toilets. With two entrance doors and a lockable partition door these can be used by mixed genders and different schools at the same time on appropriate occasions.

Now that the shower room is finished and the cubicles are all up it's difficult to photograph this and appreciate what a dramatic change it makes to our showering facilities.

Meanwhile we have of course been running some excellent outdoor learning courses as usual!
The group above enjoyed following the new Gruffalo Trail at Beechenhurst and getting their augmented reality photos taken with the Gruffalo & friends.

A group of 6th Form students enjoyed a journey of a more adventurous kind down the River Wye from Kerne Bridge to Bibblins, including the famous Symmond Yat rapids, in fairly high water. Just one boat capsized. Unfortunately it was not caught in the video above as we were too busy rescuing them and getting them into dry clothing before getting them back in their boat to finish the trip!


 Do you remember "Cracker" from the Winter Update? well Mike's Bengal Eagle Owl is now full grown and also has some companions. Talking of birds we should also mention that we have bluetits once again nesting in one of our nestboxes with the live camera feed. Presently 8 eggs being sat on.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

DFSC Winter 2017 Update

As mentioned in the last update we have now had a couple of weddings in the Garden Room and have another two booked in. People are appreciating the benefit of a comfortable building and beautiful outdoor surroundings for this type of celebration. Our work on landscaping and outdoor lighting etc. over the last couple of years (see previous posts) has really enhanced this provision.

Meanwhile inside the Garden Room the warm comfortable environment has recently proved popular for a course of baby massage lessons. We also still host the NTC Parent and Toddler mornings every Monday.

We have also added some further disco lighting including a rotating glitter ball for student discos and evening dances in the Garden Room

The Common Room (Games Room) has recently had the addition of a second new arcade quality air hockey machine. The bowling machine which we've now had for a while but hasn't previously been mentioned is also proving very popular. All are for use free of charge.

Meet "Cracker" a baby Bengal Eagle Owl! His owner, Mike, is one of our caretakers and is also a Falconer.

In the main house we have a lot of building work that is nearing completion. E.g. above a refurb' of our visiting staff kitchenette. We look forward to showing you photos of the finished room which will include Hot water boiler for making Hot Chocolate drinks etc. in the evening + a dishwasher and sink etc.

The photo above is a cryptic view of the present state of a £100K refurbishment project we presently have going on! Our largest capital works for sometime. We look forward to 'unveiling' the finished result in a few weeks time when it is completed.

Meanwhile spring is just around the corner and the spring bulbs are about to bloom. We look forward to giving you a Spring update soon.