You would think that this year, being the 6th year, the Salamander course for our young people would start feeling like – “been there, done that” – but nothing could be further from the truth. This year, as you all know, is especially hard for me and my boys but, just to reassure every single one of you, it is exactly what we need. I need to keep busy and nothing gives me more pleasure than for me to see my boys having so much fun with their friends who also care so deeply about them too. Now that’s out of the way, let me tell you about our day.
An early start but everyone ready to go. First things first – time to get into their teams and start building their team spirit and identity.
Nicole, Louis, Lane and Myles
Support staff – Ben – young carer, Cassey – PCSO
Firefighter – Fraser
Jamie, Luke, Josiah and Sophie
Support Staff – Katie – young carer, Alex – PCSO
Fire fighter – Sean
Charlie, Seamus, Michael and Sam
Support staff – Cory – senior crew, Tom – PCSO
Firefighter – Nev
Zachary, Rhys, Frazer and Oliver
Support staff – Phil – Ambulance service
Abi – ambulance service, Jo and Nicky – you know us!!
Firefighters – Dave and Lee
Salamander Commander – Mark Evans
Not forgetting an afternoon visit from our Salamander friend Rachel – PCSO
Our first timers got to experience the Salamander breakfast for the first time. Louis gets the prize for the widest smile and most enthusiastic choice maker – “two of everything please!!” Sheila, our cook, is marvellous and excels herself each year with the “full English” which is guaranteed to set them up for a hard morning’s work if they don’t doze off first!
The pole drop comes next and nearly all succeeded with great enthusiasm. Three found the challenge just too much after that enormous breakfast but don’t discount them yet…it’s only 9.00am.
Now is the time to wander around the station getting familiar with the smoke house, the fire engines and the fire engines and the fire engines – the rain will stop in a minute wont it??
Nev introduced his team to the axe – yes, I did say the axe – they carry on the trucks. Quite impressive looking too and the lads really liked that bit.
The Red Team were first to go round the smoke house and timed their exit perfectly to fit in with the most torrential downpour but that is half the fun isn’t it? Well, not according to Blue team who decided that the bench team building exercise should take place under the canopy of the appliance bay and that Firefighter Dave had the biggest muscles so could fetch the bench all by himself as it is wet out there! Seamus and Michael shared a definite “moment” on the bench and it was so, so funny. The bench, for the uninitiated, is where they all stand on a bench and have to change places without falling off – the penalty? A run round the yard but it was tipping it down so no-one fell off!! Steve, I will not forget the quip about my age!! You are supposed to respect your elders!! Was going to say “and betters” but not true in this case…at the moment!
The other team building exercises were Shark Infested Custard – excessive cheating from Luke – and leading a blindfolded team round the cones – Frazer an example to all as the blindfolds ran out and he walked round with his eyes shut and no cheating – yes, Zac I could see you had one eye open and Jamie that you didn’t even try to keep yours shut!!
Can you believe that it is already dinner time? Chicken fillets, chips, salad and coleslaw. Vast amounts of food consumed, yet again, and then a fabulous chocolate cake, after a tuneless rendition of Happy Birthday, as today was Myles’s 20th birthday.
No pole drop now as it will be a separate activity this afternoon.
A little free time to watch some DVD clips. The first was of the Bradford City Football Stadium fire – lots of intelligent questions and comments – then clips from previous courses – nothing can match Gangnam Style for dance-ability though and the lot of them got up and joined in. The Travelling Wilbury’s had them dancing and screaming out names as their team mates appeared.
An afternoon experiencing ladders – excellent Rhys, to the top of the ladder and climbing over the top – hoses – Sophie, yes it is really, really funny soaking Katie…but not me, okay!! – and the pole drop – Nicole, who ran up to me tapped me on the shoulder and shouted “I did it, I did it”. This morning there was no way anyone was getting her to go down that pole so they sat her on top of the lockers and she leaned over and, well-supported, she dropped the final couple of feet thereby giving her the small amount of confidence boosting she required so that this afternoon she came down two poles with little support. She shuffled her bottom along till she got to the edge and, helped along, she descended the pole, twice. How proud was she?
Charlie also did the locker bit and managed the final couple of feet. Jamie managed the top pole but the bottom, more open, pole was too much of a challenge. He’ll get there though, if courage and determination have anything to do with it.
The day finished with Myles, blindfolded, sat on a chair and soaked by two hose reels to celebrate his birthday and…have you ever seen anyone enjoy a soaking more??
What a fabulous start to the week. If they are this good on day one, you are certainly in for a treat on Friday. Looking forward to another action packed day tomorrow.