Cumulus Outdoors Adapts to Take Residential Experience to Schools

With the unique challenge faced this year, Cumulus Outdoors have had to adapt in order to deliver safe residential experiences while still providing fun and adventure.

Hatherop Castle School is a successful and thriving Cotswold Independent Preparatory school with excellent links with parents and the community. Hatherop aims to teach independence and self-motivation, providing children with a firm foundation for the future. They achieve this by offering a wide range of challenging situations and experiences which stimulate and motivate, making education enjoyable and enriching.

Previous years have seen Cumulus devise progressive residential programmes for school years 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. These programmes were themed to include Woodland, Coast, Mountain and River with the adventure activity schedules reflecting the varying level of challenges appropriate to that specific year group. However, the unique challenges faced in 2020 meant that we had to change our approach to ensure we could deliver a safe programme while maintaining all the benefits of the outdoor adventure experience.

Following close consultation with the school, the following programme was devised and developed:


  • Year 3: One day on site comprising bushcraft, fire lighting and survival skills – all meals were provided by the school for this year group
  • Years 4, 6, 7 and 8: Two days with one night of camping on the school grounds with all meals provided by Cumulus on camp to provide an ‘out of school’ experience
  • All groups were camping in their year group bubbles
  • 48 hours left clear between year groups to enable required cleaning protocols between groups
  • Hot water hand wash stations were readily available
  • The same Cumulus staff team was in attendance throughout the programme


  • Selected activities were delivered on the school grounds, including bushcraft, rifle shooting, tag archery and team tasks, while others including kayaking and waterpark were delivered at locations close to the school
  • Cumulus took our own fleet of kayaks to do kayaking on a lake local to the school* as well as our wetsuits and buoyancy aids for the waterpark
  • Alternative local providers near the school were identified for the activities which normally would have been done in North Wales, this included surfing and a trampoline park
  • The same fully qualified staff were assigned to all the activities and the camp to build rapport with the group and also help prevent the risk of infection by not introducing new people onto the programme
  • The school also opted to insure our senior instructor on the school minibus so as not to have to engage external drivers

*Canoe and Stand up paddle boarding could also be included on lakes and some rivers 

Residential programmes adapted and tailored for Year 6 and 8

Prep 6 have traditionally come to visit us our tented village in Dorset for a 4 day, 3 night camp. Under normal circumstances this would include a varied activity programme, including coasteering, climbing, fishing, kayaking and a beach BBQ. This year we adapted our offering to deliver a 2 day, 1 night camp in the schools grounds. Activities included kayaking, waterpark, rifle shooting, tag archery and team tasks with BBQ food on site.

For the past few years we have taken Prep 8 to North Wales for a 5 day, 4 night camp with activities including raft building, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, waterpark, trampolining and high opes. This year we adapted the programme to provide a 2 day, 1 night camp at the school which included tag archery, rifle shooting, bushcraft, surfing and trampolining.  

Fantastic feedback

We are very proud of what the Cumulus Outdoors team have achieved at Hatherop School. We always strive to offer an exemplary service and pride ourselves on our ability to adapt an innovate. In taking our residential trip experience to the school, we were able to demonstrate our ‘can do’ attitude in practice. At short notice we completely revamped our offering to provide young people with an enjoyable learning experience that fell within the current Government guidelines.

It was clear to see that the young people who took part in the revised residential programme thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We also received glowing reviews from staff.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed the adventure residential programmes with Cumulus Outdoors over the past few years, their attention to detail and absolute focus on providing the best possible residential experience has always been what sets them apart. We therefore had every confidence that the programmes they devised and delivered for us this year would be safe while retaining the element of fun, challenge and most importantly the Adventure of Childhood!  

Nigel Reed, Hatherop Headmaster