Arriving on the staff at Colinton Road in 1992, one of the first things I was told was that while Watson’s was a great place, the best thing was S3 Projects. Twenty-eight years later and after 28 Projects I wholeheartedly agree. However sitting writing this during Lockdown, in Edinburgh, instead of being on Projects is a strange feeling.
My Projects journey began in Harris, at Stockinish Youth Hostel under the tutelage of Rod Slater. From there Projects have taken me to Cannich, Inchnadamph, Tongue, Durness, Braemar and Gairloch, with a good variety of bothies and campsites along the way.
I concede that not everyone has enjoyed Projects as much as me. There have been strained relationships between staff and project groups, personality clashes within groups, and many who have been out of their comfort zones, but as Jim Cowan often said, it was the first thing former pupils would usually want to discuss.
So what made it special for the majority of pupils? There was certainly the satisfaction of reaching a summit which seemed unattainable a few hours earlier, or being able to overcome the fear of water. Equally, many found pleasure being in a kitchen cooking for large numbers (though perhaps not the washing up). Perhaps for some it was just being able to cope, away from home comforts.
However looking back I suspect most would remember the camaraderie, and bonding as a group through the highs and lows of Projects, together with enduring friendships made along the way and realisation that staff were humans too.
For me, there are so many special memories – too many to share, together with gratitude to the staff who gave my own children such wonderful times on Projects. However in this year of ‘virtual’ Projects, what are your abiding memories?
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