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Jess Stainsby describes her first few days in Lapland

Jess Stainsby describes her experiences so far for her and the group during their first few days in Lapland (Finland). Jess is one of the volunteers from the Tamar View and Barne Barton Youth Club who have gone on the expedition to support the team and children. 

Lapland first few days, snow

Like something out of a story book, waking up in Lapland, Finland has been a mind blowing experience for our group of children, young people, teachers and youth workers from Plymouth.

Blankets of vast glistening white, snow-covered ground with green shoots of life and endless dazzling blue sky meet our gaze at every turn as we embark on an adventure of a lifetime that has included ice fishing, a snow mobile sled ride, lunch by fire, a stay in a cabin in the wilderness with no access to electricity or technology and messing about in the snow.

17499159 1544218268951106 7843798971776027454 nWith each fun and unique activity, new experiences are gained alongside learning fascinating facts about life in the polar world. The favourite activity amongst the group on this expedition so far has been playing in the snow: falling in the huge, deep mounds of snow that cover the ground, throwing snowballs and especially building snowmen have been especially popular with more fun yet to come. Finley and Tomacee, two Marine Academy Plymouth Primary School students, shared their opinions on playing in the snow as being "an amazing, fun and a good experience". This is a common thought. During this fun they were taught about the structure and different types of snowfall by lead instructor Paul Hart from Education Through Expedition (ETE), who also shared his stories and experiences of avalanches as a way to engage with the children and also teach them about the risks and dangers of the conditions.

Alongside playing in the snow, we each had an exciting opportunity to stay in a wilderness cabin in the woods near a large frozen lake with no electricity or technology; even no lighting, running water or heating! Throughout the day, we rode a snowmobile and sled and took part in ice fishing - this is where a narrow hole is drilled through the thick ice to allow a fishing line to be dangled down - and was described by all the children as "fun and exciting", and although no fish were actually caught, we still got to try a traditional Finnish recipe of salmon and potato soup for lunch. In the evening in the wilderness cabin, all of the students and teachers sat around a table playing card games, which was described as a favourite by one student from Marine Academy Plymouth Primary School (MAP), Ruby, who said: "My favourite was the card games because we were all together and enjoying ourselves." This shares how the children have not only been directly taught, but are also taking charge of their own learning; gaining knowledge in confidence through interviews, as well as teamwork and friendship.

On our journey to the wilderness cabin, we were lucky enough to come across some reindeer, in which Charlie Smith, a year 5 teacher from Riverside Community Primary School shared as her favourite part of the day: "I really liked finding the reindeer as they were unique and different."

17554134 10158409214955716 3718778769841819379 nAlongside the educational experiences of the children from both MAP and Riverside, two young people from the Tamar View Community Ambassadors project, Jess - who is being educated in interview tactics and blog-writing - and Brendan - who is being taught in interviewing and camera technologies - were able to learn useful skills. Brendan said: "At first I had no idea what I was doing, but now I am much more confident doing this work."

So far this expedition has been an amazing experience for all involved, and nobody can wait to see what the next few days hold before our return home on Thursday. In the meantime, we will continue to learn and flourish throughout this once in a lifetime opportunity.

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