Bruce House 'Stay Back' Weekend

February 24, 2021 at 3:40 PM

With thanks to Year 13 Bruce House Prefect, Emma Halliday

Bruce House will be home to 88 boarders this year - 28 girls and 60 boys – with 25 students new to boarding this year. Twelve international students join fellow boarders from all around New Zealand bringing a vast diversity of cultures to the boarding house.

For those new to boarding, those first few nights away can be a bit of a scary prospect and so the first weekend back to school each year has become known as ‘Stay Back Weekend.’ All the boarders, even those who would generally head home for the weekend, ‘stay back’ for a weekend of fun to make new friendships and form new bonds across the age groups. This allows our newest boarders to familiarise themselves with Bruce House, the College facilities and the people they will be living with for the coming years. Regardless of whether a new boarder begins their Saint Kentigern experience in Year 8 or in Year 13, this weekend is a great opportunity to make friends, build trust and to bond with their ‘second family’ – the Bruce House family!

Year 13 Bruce House Prefect, Emma Halliday reflects on the weekend:

It is 2021 and the Bruce House family is back at it again with an unstoppable team of old students, new students and incredible duty staff. However, in order for us to work as a well-oiled machine, we needed a team bonding experience to tighten old bonds and create new ones. That is where our annual Stay Back Weekend for 2021 came into play. And what an experience it was!

We kicked off our weekend on the hot Friday afternoon by preparing to head out to Maraetai Beach, to end the first week of school with a splash. The buses rolled in, sunscreen was applied and music was blasted to entertain us during the ride. Arriving at the beach, there was no hesitation as our large group, eyeing the options, split into three smaller groups and headed for: the playground, the sports or, of course, the swimming.

On the playground were the brave souls willing to launch themselves skyward on the swings, which had everyone shrieking with laughter. Then there were those who were challenged to sit on the spinning chair while their mates spun them around, resulting in a few humorous moments post-challenge of dizziness and the inability to walk in a straight line. There were the tree-climbers, onlookers, eaters and last but not least, the musicians jamming out on the guitar.

A few metres over on the large patch of grass was the makeshift sports arena, where a variety of sports were taking place, involving both students and staff. These included volleyball, cricket, and naturally the much-loved rugby, which towards the end became quite the spectacle as things took a competitive turn. Right from the get-go we had prefects in charge of sorting out dinner, cooking up a storm with the classic sausage sizzle and burgers, which everyone hoovered down! After dinner, those who were now ready to ‘test the waters’ did so, and were pleasantly relieved to strike the perfect temperature! To end the evening off, we all got together for the Bruce House beach photo, which although required a fair few takes, was worth it in the end. The journey home passed by just as quickly as it had on the way over, and soon we were re-entering the boarding house to get our fill of ice cream.

The next day was the start of the ‘table group’ activities. Following a much deserved sleep-in after a full-on week of school, we wandered down to the gym where we had a mighty obstacle course awaiting us. Hurdles, puzzles and boxes lay purposefully placed for the teams to take on one by one.

In the bleachers was a sea of different coloured bands, each unique to their own table group. The teams had to work together and become aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to complete the course as fast as possible; each group fighting for the win! Even the teachers joined in as Team Staff to compete against Team Students... the students, of course, won!

After our obstacle workout in the gym, we made our way over to the giant waterslide that ran down the hill just outside Bruce House. It is an understatement to say that everyone enjoyed their slippery descents covered in soapy water, grass and sunscreen! A couple of attempts in, and the multiple ways for a person to make their way down, were well and truly mastered. These included the head-first dive, the knee glide, the backwards slide and the human chain, to name a few.

Next on the agenda was the pool activity, featuring the inflatable, water obstacle course. With the aim of the game being to make it to the very end of the course in one go, the majority of the boys confidently attempted this feat. Unfortunately, most of them only made it part way before bouncing off the sides and having to start again. Later on in the evening it was time to settle down and get comfy with beanbags and blankets as we watched Shazam! under a starry night sky.

Making it to the final day of the Stay Back Weekend, we gathered in our groups to strategise for and begin the Amazing Race. To win the race, we needed to complete quizzes and activities which required the entire group’s participation to ensure we collected items and clues that would further help us in the upcoming challenges. Teamwork and communication were crucial, and fortunately, being the last day of our weekend, these helpful tools had long since been acquired by each team.

Our final task resulted in us being soaked in the pool, so we decided to stay in a little longer. This time bull-rush was the water sport of the day, with chicken fighting (a.k.a. shoulder wars) coming in a close second.

In the evening we had parents come in for our special Bruce House Chapel. We were privileged to have Rev Smith come up and take the chapel service, which started with a musical performance, was interspersed with speeches, new student presentations and bible readings, and ended with a lively and interactive foot stomping chant. Those who stayed at the boarding house after the chapel were able to participate in the quiz night, where general knowledge was put to the test.

With that, our successful weekend full of laughter, fun and friendships new and old, drew to a close. However, it does not signal the end of the growth we have experienced in the past few days – it is just the beginning. There is still much more to come from Bruce House, as we continue strengthening our boarding family and the bonds and connections within it. It was certainly a weekend to remember, not only getting to know others better but learning so much more about ourselves as well. We are a team, we are a family, we are Bruce House. 

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