Pupils on board
Mathilde is the only school camp that takes school classes on a journey, a voyage under sail on a historical vessel. The boat leaves Hardanger Maritime Centre in Norheimsund on Monday, and normally returns on Friday. This gives pupils a five-day voyage of discovery!
The ship sails out of the Hardangerfjord, along mountains and glaciers to the coast and archipelago. Every evening, there is a new harbour to explore. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to sail on a real Hardanger sailing ship. You are guaranteed memories for life! Some schools come back year after year, but we also have vacant slots for new schools that are looking for a different school camp experience.
Since Mathilde is a school camp ‘under sail’, safety is our top priority, and we are well staffed in relation to other school camps. Mathilde’s five-strong crew ensure that you learn about life on board a Hardanger sailing ship in a safe and secure manner. The crew comprises a captain, a chief mate, a cook, a school camp teacher and a junior seaman. The weather and wind conditions play a big part in our plans for the week. This means that no two weeks are the same, although the routine is the same and we have certain activities we prioritise.
Safety is the mainstay of everything we do on board Mathilde. The attitude of each and every individual on board is fundamental to safety. Pupils learn, for example, that they must not shout or wave their arms unless strictly necessary. It is important they follow the rules to avoid putting themselves or others in danger. Instead, they must take responsibility, not just for themselves, but also for each other. No one can get by on their own at sea, pulling together is important. When this is fully understood, we can play and have fun with everything else on board!
When the ship is under sail, the pupils work in shifts under the expert eye of the crew. The shift includes a look-out, a helmsman and safety watch. They learn to read and use shift rotas, and gain experience of allocating tasks. It’s a great feeling to help run a sailing ship!
Learning to tie knots is important for being able to handle ropes and safely moor the boat. The pupils learn a new knot every day, which they must demonstrate to disembark. This motivates them to learn. Those who want to can work on their rope skills in their spare time.
Sailing and manoeuvring
The traditional Norwegian square rig in combination with the fore-and aft rig make up Mathilde’s sails. We learn about the rigging and try out the different sails. Aerodynamics are exciting! The pupils get to put the theoretical knowledge they gained earlier that day into practice, when they try their hand at sailing. They get experience of setting sail, learning to turn the vessel against the wind and with the wind, and they get to experience the interaction between the different sails. We stand on deck and feel the forces at play. It’s a great feeling!
We start by reading maps and learning to interpret navigation aids like lighthouses and spar buoys. Some classes are already used to reading maps, which means they can learn more advanced skills. A course is organised on the navigation aids that are found in the fairway.
We go for walks on the shore and look at different beach zones, on the lookout for life. We study and identify the species we find. It’s great to watch the pupils’ joy of discovery, like when they lift up a stone and see all the creatures that live under it. Maintaining a sense of wonder is important.
We learn a bit about the different methods of catching fish. We cast nets from a rowing boat and draw them in the following morning. We spend some time assessing and studying the catch. What can we tell about how the net has hung in the sea, given the catch or lack of catch? We study the fish, and learn how to turn the catch into fish the cook can serve on the table.
One pupil stood with sore, red hands one rainy day having helped to hoist the mainsail, and said: ‘Did they really sail this boat all year round, even in snow? I’m glad I don’t have to.’ This made the captain think: ‘Now, you’ve understood something that no book could have taught you.’ When the pupils go ashore having spent a week on board Mathilde, they have gained respect for the men who sailed Norway’s coast and laid the foundations for life along the fairway. Understanding that there are other dimensions in life, things we can’t really understand without actually experiencing them, is good learning for life.
Welcome on board for a fun, different and educational week-long school camp trip!
It is possible to order a brochure in connection with the trips, which will enable the pupils to remember their days on board Mathilde. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is anything you wonder about! We have an information brochure that we send to classes that are considering setting sail with us. The week’s programme centres around the sailing ship, life on board and handling the rig and the boat. We also increase their knowledge of nature and the local environment. When we visit a harbour, we make sure to speak to locals, visit the museum in the area and learn about the community. Most of the school camp trips take five days, but we also organise shorter trips. In Norway, it is a political goal for every pupil to spend one week at school camp during their primary or lower secondary education. The teaching that takes place at school camp enables the pupils to experience things and learn in a different environment. It provides elementary training in outdoor pursuits and has a positive health effect.