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Is it all right if I scream?

'This is not about academic improvement, but academic improvement may result'

Lisa Collins leant back over a Glen Nevis cliff face, petrified by a 40ft drop. Harnessed snugly and guided by Outward Bound instructor Robin Goodlad, she was coaxed into abseiling position.

"My legs are shaking. I'm scared," she told the world.

"You're not," comforted the instructor.

"Ooooh, I'm scared," the 15-year-old from Chryston High whimpered.

"Remember to keep your legs wide apart."

"Is it all right if I scream?" enquired lippy Lisa. "Oh, I'm scared."

"Keep your knees straight," Robin advised, lengthening the rope as she slid further down.

"I've never been so terrified in all my life. How am I meant to go down that? I'm hodden on for my life. You don't want to dae this," she shouted over to her smirking pals, awaiting their first descent. In a flash, Lisa was down but still high on adrenalin.

"I'm glad that's over. I'm still shaking. I'll never dae it again, it's terrifying."

Half an hour later and once her pals had followed her, she reflected: "It would be better a second time."

Like the rest of the 70-strong North Lanarkshire party at the Loch Eil Outward Bound centre, by Fort William, Lisa was tasting the buzz of outdoors activity for the first time.

On day four of the five-day course, she was feeling the intensity of it all and complaining bitterly, especially about the previous day's five-hour hill walk on the West Highland Way. "Do you want to see my blisters?" Something must have been good about being out in the majestic Ben Nevis range in the middle of winter?

"When we stopped. My feet are covered in blisters," Lisa protested. She was part of the MacDonald Clan, a group of 12 fourth-year pupils from five different North Lanarkshire schools, denominational and non-denominational joined, and often roped, together for the week.

Leigh Walker from Airdrie Academy shared the delights. "We're the MacDonald Clan but they won't feed us McDonald's." Through the constant moaning, Leigh was actually enjoying herself. "It's been good but I couldnae climb a mountain by the way. You do not get bored and you're always on the go," she confessed.

David Thomson from Calderhead High, Shotts, had grasped the essence of the week. "It gives you a better idea of how to work in a group and you need to be able to talk out and not be shy. It teaches you to be more confident in yourself," he revealed.

Although a fit lad, David admitted: "You really need your sleep and you're knackered at the end of the day."

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