A Different Weekend

Weekend in Sussex

Everything started from an invitation from the Shpresa Programme on spending a residential weekend in SUSSEX. I was so happy getting to know that we will have a different weekend starting on the 24th of October. Me and my best friend Ariana started to pack our things and get ready for the weekend ahead. We all met up at London Victoria Station and everyone was carrying big bags full of clothes and spare shoes for the weekend. We arrived at the place in about 1 hour after we left London Victoria station. We were heading towards the location of the house where we will be spending our weekend. The car was going through the middle of trees, it looked like a forest. A very calming view which was giving me a fresh breeze of calmness. Time spent amongst trees, it’s never a wasted time I told myself. We got off and slowly started to organise ourselves in the rooms. I could start to feel the excitement and the fun that we were going to have. The people at the place were so welcoming and clearly explained to us the activities we were going to do this weekend.

Me and my friend were running with excitement to see our bedroom and unpack our stuff to get ready for the night walk in the forest.  We were given a map and some torches and off we headed into the endless darkness of the forest. I was so excited and nervous at the same time. I was squeezing my best friend’s hand and walking to where the team leaders were heading to.

The guys were constantly making a lot of jokes trying to hide and scare us in the darkness of the forest. It was so funny, and I would start laughing without stopping. There were parts of the forest covered in the mud, but we luckily had our wellies on. Time after time we would stop and consulate on the map, to make sure that we are heading in the right direction. The forest had red arrows that would guide us to make sure we do not get lost. The walk lasted for about an hour, and after we got back to the place. It was the time when we would sit around tables, playing cards and listening to Albanian traditional music. It felt so good while seeing everyone having fun and laughing in loud voices.  Everyone deserves some good times and especially some good loud laughs, I thought with myself.


Tomorrow morning everyone was up and around early. We all sat and had breakfast together and got ready for a day full of challenges. Our leader for the day, Cat introduced herself and explained what we will be doing during the day. It sounded so fun, and everyone was just so ready for it and could not wait. ‘Let’s go’” More ready than ever”, these were some of the background voices you could hear. We all wore appropriate clothing provided by the centre, got the needed equipment and headed into the forest. Cat said, “Are you happy to start with an easy or challenging activity?” Everyone was up for a challenging one.

 “Catch the ball”. our first challenge which required a lot of teamwork and verbal communication. The purpose of this game was to pass the ball to the finish point without the ball touching the ground. The game started and the ball was going around in our hands. Everyone was running and Instructing each other on where they needed to go next and finally, we succeeded with the first try. Cat was so impressed to see that we completed the challenge in the first try. The next game was to cross the obstacles. The aim of the game was for all the teams to cross the obstacle in the most possible period of time.  

Heading further into the forest, more challenges were about to come for our team. This next one was about walking into a rope with a teammate and making sure you keep the balance till the finish point. Everyone was so excited and nervous. We also did timing races. The competition between teams was unbelievable, everyone was rushing to go through the obstacles to the finish point as quickly as possible. “Escaping from prison” , this challenge included a small window that could help us escape from the prison BUT we are not allowed to touch the corners of the window otherwise the guards would come and push us back into the prison . We had a wooden plank and a big cylinder which would help us escape from prison. We managed to figure out a way to escape by putting the wooden plank on top of the cylinder. We were all helping each other to get to the other side without touching the sides. The challenge succeeded in the end, feeling so proud of our teamwork we headed back to the house to eat lunch. After we all had a break, we went to the back of the building getting ready for climbing. 


We had an amazing time climbing as high as we could and doing races between each other. Later in the afternoon, the most exciting part was when we went hiking where it was very muddy. The forest was full of fallen trees which made it challenging for us to walk. It made all of us feel like we are on a mission where we need to go through all the challenges in order to survive. We were all helping each other if anyone was struggling. Kat said that  the challenge is to swim or jump in the mud. We were all laughing and saying that we would not want got muddy but after one of us jumped, we all followed. It was an unbelievable experience.

Everyone was filming and making jokes of people jumping on the mud. It reminded me of when I was a little kid and I believe it felt like that for most of us. I felt so good that this residential bought a lot of smiles in our faces. It was time for us to get back home, eat dinner, have showers and get ready for the campfire. It had been a long day, full of activities and challenges but no one was tired. I was looking forward to what the evening would bring. We got our torches. Scoot was the team leader which would help us set the fire camp. Everyone remembers the cool autumn nights snuggled around the campfire with his / her family. My first campfire was with my teammates this weekend in forest row.  It was late October, and the moon was full. The air smelled fresh and healthy.

 Maybe it is the blanket of warmth that shields your body from the crisp night air, or the thought that we 

have some control over one of the world’s most uncontrollable elements, fire. Whatever the reason may be, I know that sitting beside a campfire with my friends is so relaxing that it is beyond my power to explain how good it makes me feel. It is one of those things that do not need to be explained, the happy memories are written all over my face.

The next morning morning, we did Archery and zip wire.  I was one of the young people that never had done archery before and this was a new exciting experience. As well as the zip wire, you could feel the tension in the air. We all motivated each other to do it and it’s amazing how teamwork can make things happen. “We go to nature to be soothed, and healed, and to have senses put in order”. That’s how this weekend made me feel. It made me relax my soul, clear my mind from unwanted thoughts and come back to face any challenge life brings.

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