Stay tuned for what has been an absolutely packed day. That seems a strange way to start when the students enjoyed what was, in fact, their first and only “late morning” sleep in, dozing to the luxury of a 10:30 start.
The first treat of the day came after this late start, as [email protected] welcomed thespian John Bowles to the campus to talk about to power of storytelling. This lecture was different to anything the students had experienced before, all benefitting from a true specialist in the arts of delivery, voice projection, and capturing the audience. Not exactly what they were expecting from a Saturday morning, the students stood up to the task admirably when invited to come to the stage and speak publicly in front of their 90 strong colleagues in Amphi B. John’s key lessons were captured in understanding the how, the what, and the why of storytelling and public speaking. “How” referred to the importance of body language, enunciation and voice projection. “What” referred to a proper consideration of the message that the deliverer wants to get across. Finally, the “why” referred to appreciation of the true purpose of what the speaker is doing, and an acceptance of the importance of authenticity and “realness” when delivering the message. Kudos especially to those who spoke publicly in what was not their first language, and well done to all for engaging so well in what has been spoken about as one of the most intimidating but enjoyable sessions so far.
After lunch, the cohort set off for some more outdoor activities, this time taking on Fontainebleau forest’s offer of aeroplanche and paintball. It’s fair to say that after a week together, there was an understandable need to “blow off some steam”, which counsellors and students took advantage of in great style. Perhaps the most worryingly enthusiastic among the paintballing contingent was counsellor and birthday-girl Augusta (see extract on army bootcamp), whose menacing warcries, military background, and largely counsellor based team set the tone for what was to be a very interesting afternoon.
As a member of this counsellor team, I was left frustrated from the games, as I saw first hand some of the best team work between the students I had seen all week, with the opposition teams coming together to form a strategically astute, viciously determined, well-oiled machine of counsellor destruction. We don’t need to dwell on the point too much; it was an afternoon of laughter, adrenaline, and liberal interpretation of the “no-shooting-from-less-than-ten-metres” rule. On the other side of the coin was the enviably peaceful, yet equally exhilarating zip-line, aeroplanche course for the pacifists among us, which despite a couple organizational difficulties, was reported to be an enjoyably therapeutic success.
The main attraction of the day, however, came on arrival back to the camp, at which point counsellor and student alike scurried off to get prepared for the annual, much-anticipated [email protected] talent show. Some performances had been well-rehearsed and suitably publicised; equally, the group was ready for some surprise appearances and some more “improvisational” shows. Credit to the events team who, in what was a very small window for preparation, managed to transform Freddy’s bar, with help from some students, into a high capacity, accommodating, slightly acoustically challenged, talent show theatre. From then on, the evening itself was student run, with Sophie-Anne doing a stellar job MCing for the night, introducing the different acts, and then prompting responses from our panel of cutthroat judges.
First up was Adrian Johnson, whose show titled “Eggs” combined humour, creativity, showmanship and absurdity in what, predictably, became a lesson in life and business.
Subsequently, and in no particular order, came a charming and thoroughly impressive reproduction of one of the fastest raps in the Broadway hit musical “Hamilton”, courtesy of Rosie, hauntingly beautiful vocal renditions of “Oh Danny Boy” and “Vienna” from counsellor Niamh and Margharita, respectively, as well as an enjoyable showcase debut of Big Rico (participant Will)’s very own rap, performed by the man himself. Perhaps the most entertaining, amongst the singers, were brother, mother, sister team Hugo, Pascale, and Lily, (the last of which, it would be fair to say, carried the others), who provided a touching rendition of Billie Eilish’s “idontwannabeyouanymore”.
Amongst the physical performances was Nazar, whose acrobatics blew away everybody in the room, Nathan, whose representation of his native Ethiopia’s national dance was infectiously energetic and entertaining, and Delphine & Nathan, eventual winners, whose performance of a German-style ballroom dance did not give away the fact that they only learnt the steps the day before. Fantastic.
Furthermore, it is unsurprising to find out that there are a number of talented musicians amongst the students, who, in this case, showcased their talent playing the piano, with Amelie, Alicia, Merle, and Sigurd all performing, in different ways, to an incredibly high-standard; for the crowd, it was a pleasure be serenaded from the likes of Chopin, all the way to Freddy Mercury.
Then came the less conventional, but equally entertaining, section that invariably comes from a [email protected] performance. Sister team Sasha & Natalia blew the group away with a replication of a famous rap battle made real on the Freddy’s bar stage; the “Blowing Boys Balls” floating ping-pong ball routine, as perplexing as it was hilarious; and an inspirational, mind-boggling, psychedelic journey led by counsellor-turned-orator Aindriu, whose energy and improvisation made for an almost life changing delivery of the message “life’s about the journey, not the destination”.
The evening was closed by the much anticipated (and dreaded by some) counsellor performance. In what has become a bit of a tradition, the team performed another mash-up dance, exclusively using songs from High School Musical, with notable performances from Julia, Aindriu, and Augusta (playing the roles of Gabriela, Troy, and Sharpay, respectively). It’s true that the better the choreography in this annual dance is, the less entertaining it is for the students and all I can say is that, in this respect, the counsellors did not disappoint.
Cheered out, clapped out, and laughed out, the students took advantage of the late curfew to congratulate the performers and debrief on the night’s events, before slowly making their way to bed. What had been a busy but brilliant day finished with excitement finished with excitement to get some rest, and anticipation for the famous Subi Ranghan’s lecture on Societal Progress to be delivered the following day, with everyone on campus fully ready to have their lives changed (as has been advertised).