Lulworth Cove 2020, Dearly Missed…

Today should be the day we headed down to our annual trip to the Jurrassic Coast for a weekend of open water snorkelling and life experiences… Sadly due to the Corona Virus, the club had to make the difficult decision early on in the pandemic to cancel the trip… Something, which I never thought I would see happen…

Lulworth Cove from the Sea

So in the absence of the trip, I thought I’d share what Lulworth means, both to me and the students of the club. A reminder to those who have been, and an encouragement to those who are yet to go…

To my knowledge, the club has never missed an annual trip to Dorset in its entire existence, certainly I have only ever missed one (when on an Army Selection course) since 1988… So, as you can imagine the location is dear to my heart. In fact, I would even go so far as to say, for me it is a home from home…

Diving to depths unknown

We are unusal as a club too, insisting that we take the students away with us, not that the students meet us at the dive site… Most clubs around the UK, will have their students meet them at the site, insisting parents bring them, and then camp, or stay locally. We are one of the few if not only clubs, that organise the whole weekend for the students. Its something which I think makes the weekend that much more special….

Lulworth Youth Hostel… Our Home from Home

The Lulworth Cove trip as it is known has almost exclusively been based from the Lulworth Cove Youth Hostel, and whilst the dive locations vary year on year along that stretch of beautiful Jurrassic coastline, the format has remained the same throughout my time at the club.

Travel down in minibuses

Travel down on the Saturday Morning to a local dive site, dive, back to the Youth Hostel for showers, dinner, debrief. Then an outward-bound experience of various forms, finishing at the pub for a lemonade and a bag of chips till the sun goes down…

Kimmeridge Bay

Sunday, clean the hostel head to toe, load up and head to the next dive site, dive, debrief, wander around the local sights, lunch and then head on home…

It may not seem much, but it is amazing what can be packed into two days… Not just in diving experience but in life experience…

For me, and to the staff who came before me. The weekend is not just about the diving. Don’t get me wrong, the diving is amazing, the water generally clear (if a trifle cool), teaming with life, and bountiful with challenges and excitement. However, there is more to be achieved in Lulworth than just diving…

Taking on new challenges

Lulworth is about growing. Not just as a student of the fine art of snorkelling, but as a person. Something, which many children, in this X-Box generation, fail to get the opportunity to achieve.

Its not necessarily something, which the students know they need, and many certainly think they dont want, but if they want to take part, in the weekends diving, then it is our ethos and expectation that everyone takes part in all aspects of the trip.

Inside the hostel

It is expected that the students run and manage the weekend themselves (with our guidance obviously). They are expected to clean and tidy up, lay tables, serve the staff their meals, take responsibility for their kit, help their friends, and generally assist where they can. In return, the staff will provide the greatest possible diving experiences they can. It’s a fair exchange, and without a doubt, makes a massive difference to all concerned.

Having fun in the sea

It’s not about “slavery” as some of the kids have put it in the past. It’s about learning to take personal responsibility for themselves and others. It’s about learning to be more than an insular teenager, as well as learning valuable life skills and standards like cleaning, team work and caring for your fellow snorkeller. It is a challenging and rewarding experience.

The Castle Pub, the end of day rest in the garden

The feedback we get from the locals, both hostel staff, dive site management and even from the local Pub staff, is that of a well organised, well behaved group of children. Who give more than any other group who come to stay in the area. It’s something I am very proud of. Every year we get special thanks from the staff at the hostel, for leaving the place cleaner than when we arrived… To me, that is a credit to both the students and staff and makes me proud to be the head of the club.

Stair Hole & Cathedral Cavern

SO, why is the place so special? That’s a good question… Maybe its the beautiful location. Surrounded by amazing rolling hills, with rounded pebbled beaches, and stunning rocky cliffs, filled with dinosaur fossils. Is it the old-world charm of the village…? Could it be the friendliness of the hostel staff, lending a home from home atmosphere to the location. Or could it be the simple reassurance of being somewhere which brings so much joy to so many… Who knows? BUT the place just is special…

Benefits to young and old alike

On arrival, you melt into this world of relaxed excitement. A contentment of knowing what is to come, but still not knowing what could happen and what you might see when out in the big blue… Either way, and for whatever reason, the place just makes you happy… and I’ve seen it on the face of every kid that I’ve taken down there…

Swanage Pier

The weekend is exhausting but rewarding… For the staff, it’s the months of pre planning, getting the kit ready, the kids ready, planning the dives, working out the tides, the weather and the opportunities. Then the driving, the diving, and the corralling of 20+ kids over 48 hours…

For the kids, its the excitement, the diving, the cleaning, the walking across the hills. The staying up late talking to your friends… Making new friends, building on old ones, and the doubtless shenanigans that they get up to without the staff knowing (Or at least they think we don’t know)

Jumping from the Pier at Swanage

I’ve seen students come back changed from timid souls to confident young men and women. Achieve things they never thought possible. I’ve seen students terrified to do something, but with the support of the staff and their friends, have jumped in (sometimes literally) with both feet and achieve what they thought was impossible. It is a wonderous place.

No matter the reason, everyone comes back from the weekend, tired but happy… Ive heard tell of some students sleeping through to Monday night after their trip away… and to be honest, its totally worth every minute… The value of the experiences you gain in these two days is worth a week of school in my opinion.

Learning new skills, trying new kit

I just hope that this pandemic doesn’t change the way we will have to run the trip in years to come too much, if at all. As it would be a crying shame for students to miss out on these valuable experiences.

I hope that you can see that our annual club weekend trip away is more than just a club trip. It means so much to staff and students. Its builds character, shares experience, gives opportunity to grow. It is a valuable life lesson to all those that have come before, and hopefully will continue to come and thrive.

The Team Lulworth 2019