How many of the 65 Elstree Boarders Escaped from Colditz?

The Escape to Colditz event is a firm favourite of Elstree Boarders, and an Elstree tradition introduced to the school many years ago.   It is held in such high esteem, that this weekend, 65 of our boarders took part. Split in to Senior and Junior boarder bubbles, the Juniors were given a seven minute head-start.

Here, Form Tutor and Lay Chaplain Mr Prichard and Head of Boarding Mr Hepburn share their versions of the super-special outdoor event:

Elstree Boarders Escape from Colditz

Mr Prichard’s account:

“Whispers grew that an Escape from Colditz was in the planning for last Saturday night, and without disappointment. The troops had their gruel in the mess hall and then gathered for the annual mega-briefing. It  was a cacophony of blaring voices and screeching songs.  Songs from the Dark Knight, Inception, The Great Escape and Where Eagles Dare. There were also homemade movies of the guards’ catching-manoeuvres, and detailed escape plans, with site maps and escape rules.”

“The children made their escapes from the shooting range on Farmyard to the campfire on Plantation. Their mission was to avoid the intense beams of the six guards patrolling the foggy and moonlit grounds.”

“The POWs (Prisoners of War) made a 45-50% success rate, which is good for wartime. Many earned prizes for the Best Route, Best Camo Disguise, Best Neon Disguise, Closest Shave, Best Stealth, Last Escape. As ever, the night goes down as a firm favourite in the diary of our Elstree boarders.”

Mr Hepburn’s account:

“As well as the full-boarders, almost all the flexi-boarders were in this weekend for the much-loved Escape from Colditz event. After games on Saturday, everyone gathered in the Long Room to watch the England versus Wales rugby game. As you can imagine, there was a terrific atmosphere. The cheers and groans could be heard echoing round the Front Hall!”

“Around 5.30pm, everyone went off to the dorms to change into their Colditz costumes, which ranged from Ghillie suits to luminous pink tutus. As the ‘Prisoners’ enjoyed supper, the guards (Gappers Ed, Matthew and Christian and Head of DT Mr Duarte) patrolled menacingly in the lantern-lit dining hall.”

“Once supper had finished, the ‘Prisoners’ were escorted to the McMullen Hall for a briefing from Wing-Commander Prichard. The children were shown a film setting the scene, and introducing them to the deranged commander of Colditz Castle and his creepy henchmen. They were then marched up to the shooting range – the start point of the event.”

“A loud air horn started the event, and for the next hour, the children tried to creep stealthily through the grounds up to Plantation without being spotted by the guards and their powerful torches. For the lucky ones that made it to the rendez-vous point, two members of the Resistance – Madame Gluck and Mademoiselle Boyd -were waiting to welcome them with a roaring fire and a place on the airship back to Blighty!”

“At the end of the game, everyone trooped back to the McMullen Hall for a final roll-call, a welcome mug of hot chocolate and prize-giving.  Then it was straight up to the dorms for bed!”

How many Elstree Boarders succeeded in their mission?

Of the 65 Elstree Boarders who took part in Escape from Colditz, only about 20 actually made it. Unfortunately, Headmaster Mr Inglis and team arrived about 30 seconds too late, so didn’t succeed in the mission. 

The next day’s boarding activities

The children were still buzzing at Sunday morning breakfast, sharing their escape attempt stories from the night before.  While our flexi-boarders headed home mid-morning, our weekly and full boarders got involved in some activities organised by Mr Prichard and Miss Gluck.

Following lunch and a long walk, Miss Boyd organised a big game of Capture the Flag and British Bulldogs around the school grounds.  Next, it was a spot of R&R with Hama Beads. Then, football and a very much-needed film.

It will be no surprise to learn, that were some very weary heads on Sunday evening. In fact, many of the children did not even make the end of silent reading…!