Last month, a group of five deafblind adults that Sense supports took a trip over to Denmark to take part in an annual gathering of deafblind adults from all over Europe who are part of the Deafblind International Outdoor Network.
Mark, Rory, David, Warren and Matthew were accompanied by Sense staff members in this five day trip to venture into the great outdoors.
We met up with deafblind people and their support staff from Denmark, Scotland, Norway and Sweden. This trip was a first for many of us and I am delighted to say that it was a tremendous success for all involved.
We stayed in Tversted, a small coastal town on the northwest coast of Denmark. Our accommodation was a large house set in its own grounds, with opportunities to camp in teepees outside.
We had three full days of activities and at night we would all gather around the fire pit to chat. The nightly gathering of all around the fire pit became a forum for discussion, signing and sharing of ideas and experiences, as well as an ideal setting for making genuine friendships.
In fact it was this amazing spirit generated by all involved in our team, and all our new friends, that was a consistent feature throughout the week and enabled us all to do so much.
The first day saw everybody help carry freshly sawn logs from our house down to the coast. Using rope with plastic handles, we carried these logs, two people to one log, across all sorts of different terrain, including roads, fields, dunes and bridges, until we finally made it to the beach, whereupon everybody collapsed on the sand!
After a sandwich, a drink and a paddle in the sea we then set about the task of building a bridge. Everybody played a part in constructing an ‘A frame’ contraption that then got hoisted into place midstream with logs placed across it to create a bridge.
Everybody then took a turn in crossing the bridge. As they successfully negotiated their way over the water below, each person got a tremendously loud roar of approval and applause. The sense of achievement for all was wonderful to behold and firmly set the tone of the whole group working together.
Our second activity day saw us being driven to the local port of Hirtshals where we boarded a large old traditional Danish fishing boat. There was genuine excitement, and a little apprehension too, as we then set sail out onto the open seas.
Once the captain was happy with our location, the ship’s horn was sounded to signify the start of fishing. We cast a baited line out to sea and then reeled in anything we caught. As the day progressed, we were lucky enough to experience the sensations of catching large fish that were hauled on board, held, explored, and stored in large buckets.
Later that day, these same fish were de-scaled, filleted, prepared with herbs and lemon, and then individually smoked over an open fire pit.
Our third day saw us driving inland up to the northernmost tip of Denmark. Most of us had no idea that here there lies a most enormous desert of fine sand and enormous dunes. This time our group set off across the desert. We carried a long rope with many knots in it that provided guidance and support. The sands were deep, the dunes were high and it took a lot of effort by everybody to successfully negotiate our way up to the highest plateau.
Our collective group spirit and comradeship came to the fore. By this stage in our week together, everybody was helping each other at all times. The differences between us in terms of language, nationality or ability had turned into a collective unity of co-operation.
As I reflect upon some of the individual achievements we witnessed throughout these adventures, and the determination people showed in keeping going at all times, I am left with so many positive emotions.
None of this would have been possible without the contributions of many people. From those who have donated money or helped raise funds, to our hosts who organized everything, and especially to my colleagues on the trip whose energy and enthusiasm was invaluable, I would just like to say thank you!
Jon Fearn, Sports and Outdoor Development Co-ordinator