So much going on at Ard Whallin outdoor activities centre

By by Chelsea Woodward Twitter: @iomnewspapers in Feature

Ardwhallan has been empowering young adults to realise their full potential through adventure since 1979.

The outdoor activity centre is now looking to encourage more primary aged children to experience its large and varied programme of outdoor courses and clubs available year round and adults seeking an exhilarating residential getaway.

Nestled in the slopes of West Baldwin with Injebreck reservoir just a few metres away, Ardwhallan offers the ideal location for a safe and fun outdoor activity centre where visitors are encouraged to take risks and push themselves.

The centre is part of the Department of Education and Children as well as being a registered charity.

Paul Melling, head of the centre, explained: ’The department is the trustee of the charity and therefore in terms of the way we work around 40 per cent of the finances come from the Isle of Man Government and the rest is earned through the charity offering various activities such as kayaking, sailing and mountain biking.’

The charity does a lot of work within schools helping with physical education classes for IGCSE and running the BTEC level 2 in outdoor sports which is offered through the University College Isle of Man.

The site also supports young people with challenging behaviour and those who may be disadvantaged.

Paul explained why this kind of learning works in such situations.

He said: ’It’s about getting young people to find what their learning preference is and then applying that to situations that are going to help them learn.’

He added: ’Everyone is telling you you need GCSEs and A-levels to get on in the world but I’m stood in front of you as head of centre with nothing to my name - there are other levels into employment.’

For those looking for an alternative getaway there is an on site residential hostel available for rent.

The hostel can sleep 30 people and boasts excellent facilities as well as stunning location.

The charity is now looking to run the hostel to its full capacity as it predominantly sits unused midweek.

Paul said: ’There is so much potential there for the retired and older generation of people to come walking.

’They can come here and stay the night - a big attraction is the Millennium Way, we are right in the centre so you could do half of it, stay the night and then leave the next day.’

The centre is LOTC (learning outside the classroom) facilitated and this year the team at Ard Whallin is looking to focus a lot more on their role within primary schools.

This makes learning more hands on for the pupils and gets them to apply their knowledge in an outdoor environment enabling them to learn outside the classroom.

Students will develop their maths skills by adding up their archery scores or measuring trees using applied maths and immersing themselves in the outdoors to inspire creative writing.

Paul said: ’There is nothing better than jumping into some freezing cold water and then thinking of the describing words for the activity at that moment in time while you’re actually doing it.’

Ardwhallan has done much to develop its facilities over the years.

The authentic reconstruction of a Viking longhouse remains popular with budding Vikings of all ages.

Since the five-year project was completed about seven years ago, young participants of ’Viking days’ have enjoyed activities such as making their own battle shields and baking bread on the open fire.

The centre’s latest investment has been on its assault course, which has been updated and expanded.

These are clearly exciting times for Ardwhallan.

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