Combining Fun and Learning in the Outdoors: Aquatic Adventure Centre Sri Lanka (AACSL) is launched by The Great Outdoors and Sanctuary House
November 25th dawned as a cloudy and windy day. It was the ideal setting for 36 cub scouts aged 8 and 9 years and their three Akelas to commence an overnight camping adventure at the AACSL located at Sanctuary House retreat and training centre, Kupungoda, Pamunugama.The group was warmly greeted by the staff and served a refreshing drink in the unique open-air restaurant area.
CAMPING IN TENTS
After welcoming them and sharing the general rules and guidelines to ensure their safety as well as an enjoyable stay, the guests were escorted to the camping area. Eight tents were laid out in two sections: five tent were on an island surrounded by canals, three were on a narrow spit of land between the pond and the lagoon. The group was divided into six groups and they excitedly unpacked their belongings in the tents allocated to them.
LEARNING TO USE KAYAKS
The afternoon was allocated for kayaking as well as archery and rifling. Half the students were trained in paddling, wearing life jackets and then allowed to learn in the safety of the canals, with trained staff prepared for any eventuality overseeing the activity. Four kayaks with two kids in each were soon sailing around the canals surrounded by greenery as well as in the large pond area. Some of the kids found it hard to paddle, but they all persisted and enjoyed the activity immensely.
ARCHERY AND AIR RIFLES
The second group were taught the basics of using an air rifle as well as a professional archery set, and taught life values and principles as well. Many of them enjoyed handling an air rifle for the first time, and they all enjoyed shooting arrows at the target.
After about 90 minutes, the two groups switched activities. The afternoon was filled with shouts of laughter as the kids though wet from kayaking continued happily. The activities were ended at 6pm. Thereafter the kids all showered and freshened up using the brand-new washroom section.
DINNER AND CAMPFIRE
Dinner was served at 7.30pm. Almost all the children were hungry after their afternoon’s exertion and the tasty meal of noodles and devilled sausages were enjoyed immensely. Dessert of yoghurt and jelly was also a hit. After dinner, the children had a camp fire and sent an hour performing skits and songs in their groups. Dismissed to their tents at 9.30pm, the kids settled down for the night. But they were too excited; Sleeping in a tent was a new experience, as well as recounting the day’s events too time. Finally they fell asleep.
Next day, the children was all awake by 5.30am and were ready for the day’s activities by 6.30. After a cup of tea, the group was taken on a nature walk through the jungle area. The kids were tasked to spot at least three birds, three trees, and another three living things ( flowers, plants, insects, fish etc). All of them enjoyed this experience and made notes of what they observed. Some of the children has a list of over 30!
LOW ROPES CHALLENGE COURSE
Breakfast followed. After breakfast, the children were divided into two groups. One headed for the Low Ropes Challenge Course, the other for the water. The entire morning from 9.00am to 1.00pm was spent learning to complete challenging balancing and stretching activities on the Low Ropes course. The children also learnt the importance of supporting and encouraging others, the power of focus as well as cooperation and teamwork.
RACING IN KAYAKS AND DINGHIES
On the water, the children were allowed to paddle to their heart’s content using the four kayaks as well as two rubber dinghies. After practicing, each group raced across the pond. The children learnt how to learn new skills, to persist in face of challenges, to be mindful of safely, to encourage one another, to work as a team, to work to achieve goals and more.
SKITS AND SONGS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
Lunch was enjoyed by all. After Lunch the children performed songs and skits for a group of senior citizens who were visiting Sanctuary House for a day-out. The children’s performance was warmly appreciated by them.
USING A COMPASS, KNOTS, CRAWLING, LEAP-FROGS AND RUNNING
The afternoon was spent learning specific skills. The children were taught how to use a compass to find North as well as the eight points .They also learnt how to tie a reef knot. Next was crawling through a tunnel and leap-frogging. Finally The six groups raced each other several times and ended the day with a discussion on their experiences. All the children shared their experiences. Some of them wanted to stay longer. By this time, many of the parents had come to collect their charges. At around 5pm the group left the venue waving to the staff.
Aquatic Adventure Centre Sri Lanka ( AACSL) is a joint venture of The Great Outdoors and Sanctuary House. The vision is to help children and their parents learn to enjoy the outdoors. The mission is to use the wetland restoration area at Sanctuary House as well as the adjoining Negombo Lagoon and Muthurajawela Sanctuary as a venue for camping in tents and aquatic activities including Kayaking, Sailing, Fishing, Nature walks, Expeditions as well as Archery , Air rifles etc. Sanctuary House also has a fully-fledged Low Ropes Challenge course.
IDEAL FOR TRAINING EVENTS
In addition to families and children and youth group, the venue is also an ideal location for corporate teams to combine camping with specific training using the outdoor training components and activities available onsite. Sanctuary House also has Air conditioned accommodation for 160 in Dormitories as well as Eight Air conditioned triple/double rooms. The food served at Sanctuary House is second to none in terms of both quality and quantity. Several Air conditioned halls are also available for indoor sessions. The venue is located 20 minutes away from Colombo via the Airport expressway.