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Salamander Day 4 2015 Nicky’s blog

Have to admit I am a bit weary today. I hardly sleep at all Salamander week. It’s not a lack of trust or worry it is excitement, making sure I have remembered everything I need to remember and pure joy and wonder as I experience everything alongside your child. I am still at the WOW stage!!! And I hope it never ceases. They continually amaze and surprise me and that’s the instructors and as well as the young people. I still feel as I did that very first day 7 years ago when they said we are now going to cut up the cars and they put the Holmatro cutting gear into their hands and said just twist the handle and the jaws will close, let go and it will stop and they then cut the roof off a car. Incredible then and incredible now and I thought I believed that our young people could do anything. This team have taught me so much more about expectations and achievement but don’t tell them I am learning from them as it will go straight to their heads!!

First things first. A secretive start to the day as everybody knows it is someone’s birthday and they are all sworn to secrecy till 3pm. Zachary can’t contain his excitement and a Happy Birthday bursts from him as he arrives but a lot of distracting noise and his quieter voice lull our Commander into a false sense of security.

Breakfast, clearing and the pole drop. More firsts on the pole drop Luke, Nicole and Charlie all did their first pole drop today whilst standing. They usually sit on the floor and are helped across to the pole by Sean whilst Mark and James are standing the next floor down with arms extended so they can hold their feet – yes, Sean must have some muscle and Mark and James have long arms – quite an achievement. We have also seen Lane, Charlie, Stephen and Nicole grow in confidence each day and are barely recognisable from the terrified young people of 2014 when faced with a pole and a drop.

Now over to get changed as we have a busy day ahead of us. A Round Robin of three activities:

RTC – Road traffic Collision – Cutting up the cars – Steve and Sean aid them in breaking the glass on all windows before cutting the doors and roof off a car. They all still show the shock and thrill of breaking the glass and then the power of using the cutting equipment but every last one of them remained focussed, listened to instruction and were safe and sensible whilst participating in this activity. We don’t get any silliness or attention seeking behaviour when using this equipment. The gravitas that the instructors impart concentrates their minds and behaviour and serious, attentive and patient young people emerge as they await their turn.

DVD’s – they watched Freddie and Filbert teach them all about Fire plans and then listened and answered questions from Freddie. They also watched Francis the Firefly tell them all about the danger of playing with matches and the very serious consequences that could occur.

Smokehouse – the first time with smoke! It is just cosmetic smoke, as you would get in a disco or at the theatre – but they still have to find and rescue the baby. A dark, smoke filled, two storey house and no idea where that baby may be so they search and they find and they crawl out through tunnels.

Lunch-time and Luke for a second time today starts the two flights of stairs near the back and ends the two flights at the front. Food is at the top!! Chicken fillets cooked by Fire Mark, Chips from the Chippy – except gluten free of course – and the most delicious salad expertly chopped by me.

Another two pole drops before this afternoon’s Show practice. I may be writing this with a glass in hand but I still remember that I am not allowed to tell you so fast forward to 3pm. A beautifully loud rendition of happy birthday and a gift and card from us all – didn’t open the card, no manners – but proud of you all for keeping the secret so well and now he will have to buy cakes every year he works for his birthday as they now all know xx