School’s out for summer, so what are the students getting up to?

We visited Firestarter Festival which is held at the Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre in West Baldwin where teenagers experience camping, water fights, kayaking and paddleboarding.

It is run by volunteers many of which are Christian and some are doing it for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award (DoE).

’It’s three days of doing something completely different and is a complete break from everything,’ said Ramsey Grammar School pupil Jon Gray, 16.

This is the second time he’s been a ’reveller’ at the festival. ’You get to do whatever you want. You’re not forced to join games or anything except showing up for meals,’ he said.

’I love the Viking long house and I took part in the talent show. It’s really an opportunity for anyone - especially those who have not been on stage before - to show what they’ve got. It helps some kids by boosting their confidence.

’I’m going to ask to come back as staff because I really enjoyed it and the staff seem to have a lot of fun themselves.’

When asked if there are a lot of events for youngsters, he replied: ’I think there are a lot of sport camps and festivals for people our age over summer like Dark Horse, but Firestarter... there’s nothing like this anywhere in the Isle of Man.’

Jean Quaye and sisters Brooke and Grace Harrison are volunteering for their DoE.

The Harrison girls are daughters of festival manager Tommy. Brooke, 17, said: ’I’ve been going for 17 years. My favourite activities are the water war and kangaroo court.’

Grace, 16, added: ’Kangaroo court is so funny - revellers and crew get stupid punishments with no way of getting out of it because they’ve been caught for something silly.

’For our DoE we have to do a night of security each, which is basically sitting on the field with other crew and making sure the revellers are all okay. Plus we work in the kitchen and hospitality team. I also helped with the 24-hour cafe.’

Jean, 17, said: ’I’ve been a reveller twice. Being part of the team you see it from a whole new point of view. It’s a lot of working and cleaning.’

Queen Elizabeth II High School student, Artia Bawden, 16, said: ’I’ve been going to Firestarter for three years.

’My favourite thing is the talent show. This year I did a song from a musical called Words Fail by Dear Evan Hansen. I came second. Camping has been all right. The other campers have been pretty quiet. I’ve done the assault course and I’m not sure if I’ll do the water war.’

Games team leader, Michaela Moffet, is studying children and youth studies at Edge Hill University. She organises the water war, gunging, human battleship, and many other activities.

She said: ’Firestarter is a great experience. I’ve been going for six years and started as a reveller. Volunteering means more because I don’t get paid so it doesn’t feel like a job. It’s something that I enjoy.’

When asked what she has planned after the festival, she replied: ’I’m recovering.’

Isaac Heaton has been on games crew for two years. ’I really enjoy Firestarter and volunteering as I want to help young people,’ he said. ’I especially like the team and the water war.’