Session 2011/12 marked the fiftieth year since S3 Projects was introduced by Sir Roger Young in 1962. It is incredible to think that every S3 pupil in Watson's for the past 50 years has had the opportunity to participate in the Projects experience. For many, Projects has been one of the highlights of their school career and they have fond memories of their fortnight away.
Venues have changed over the years but what is important is that the Projects experience remains the same; pupils being faced with a variety of situations and challenges, and living and working closely with a new group of people to achieve common goals. Many friendships forged on projects have endured over the years.
Projects goes on from strength to strength and we are determined that it continues well into the future. A large number of staff are now trained as Summer Mountain Leaders and new staff benefit from the support of more experienced leaders. We really believe in the benefits of Projects and hope to offer the experience to many more generations of pupils at Watson's.
The 50th anniversary of Projects was celebrated in 2012 in a variety of ways.
Our biggest challenge, however, was always going to be trying to bag all 283 Munros during the month of May 2012 - entitled 'Munro Maynia'. It was our intention to have a pupil, Member of Staff, Former Pupil, Former Member of Staff, Parent or Governor on the top of every Munro in Scotland.
School Projects groups were scheduled to climb 50 Munros during Projects fortnight (14-25 May) and everyone in the George Watson's College community was invited to add to the total by climbing others Munros anytime during the month of May.
The dreadful weather conditions in the first half of May meant that some of the planned climbs early in the month were cancelled and postponed. However the upturn in weather later in the month and in early June meant that we hope to have conquered all munros by the end of the first week in June. On 4 June only two munros were outstanding.
A huge thank-you to all those who have been climbing mountains for Projects 50. We fully understood that some groups, including some S3 Projects, had to alter their plans slightly because of the wintry conditions in May and are happy that safety was not compromised in completing the challenge.
Please remember to email us with the following details: your name and the year you left School, the Munro(s) you climbed, who you climbed with, and the date of your climb and any photos you took on the summit to allow us to update the database.
Those of you who are unable to climb a munro can also support the fundraising, for the organisations highlighted below, as FP, former member of staff and School governor, Liz Smith MSP, is using the 2012 Projects celebrations to complete her own ascent of every Munro in Scotland. Left with a small handful of the 283, Liz is keen to make her own special contribution to what she describes as 'the best thing at Watson’s' and ensure, that in doing so, she can help to raise funds for the many groups and volunteers which have assisted three generations of Watson’s pupils with their outdoor adventures.
Donations to the fundraising efforts can be made by sending a cheque, payable to GWC Projects 50 Fundraising to Alan Bennett c/o George Watson's College.
On Saturday 17 March we held a Projects@50 day in School. This was open to current pupils, staff and former pupils and over 150 people attended.
Following coffee and time to browse archive material from past Projects, the assembled guests were welcomed by Gareth Edwards, Principal. Sir Roger Young - former Principal - then gave an insight into his idea behind Projects. Current S6 pupils shared their own S3 Projects experiences, as did Maxi MacLaren, former member of staff who recounted the changes over the time he was involved, with train journeys being replaced by the now ubiquitous fleet of minibuses. Graham Gibb, who is responsible for S3 Projects nowadays concluded the talks.
The morning was completed with nostaligic reminiscences over a light buffet in the Dining Hall.
We are hoping to raise some money to help several of the groups who have helped our Project groups over the years.
Money raised will be split evenly between the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, the John Muir Trust, Mountain Rescue, the Mountain Bothy Association and S3 Projects.
This year's Projects groups are also going to complete conservation projects including: beach clearances, hill path restoration, rhododendron clearing etc.