Towards the end of last term, eleven Year 12 students set off to the Peak District for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award Practice expedition. For the next five days, they learned from an experienced team from AlfresGo about how to navigate using a map and compass, how to stay warm and well fed in unforgiving weather, and how to work together as a team. In July, they will go to the Lake District for their Qualifying expedition where they will test their skills amongst England’s highest hills. All of the instructors commented on how well they represented the school and it was a pleasure to accompany them. My highlights included returning to camp to find the whole group huddled around a table playing cards; hearing another who had not done something like it before talk about how motivated they were to continue exploring the outdoors; and an email from one parent to say their child had come back ‘full of joy’. My sincere thanks to the school for their support and to the EP fund which enabled this opportunity for some students. Below are photos and comments which give a flavour of the experience and, I hope, inspire other students to take up the challenge.
– Mr Poolman
It humbles me to think that there are people who have no access to transport such as we do in London and technology to keep us warm… Despite the trials of the physical strain, we have grown as a community and as a team to better look out for one another. Some of us even started to sing just to keep going.
– Amelia L
Besides all the walking and navigation, DofE is a fantastic way to get to know the people in your year group a bit better. The evenings you spend with the people in your group (granted someone brought playing cards) are invaluable and you end up getting along with people you never thought you’d even speak to! The expedition itself really puts your discipline to the test and strengthens your grit and determination. And the best part is, whereas before the idea of having to walk 40 minutes might have seemed terrible, after walking 6-8 hours everyday, it is light work!
It was by far one of our most challenging experiences and there were many moments where we all felt like giving up. Due to challenging weather, we had many disruptions and struggled to put tents up, cook food and complete our full 8 hour hike. However, with resilience we managed to succeed and complete it as a group. If you choose to do DofE, you will learn navigation skills, survival skills, physical fitness, campcraft and, equally importantly, build lasting bonds with your peers.
– Richard, Elazar, Jack, Eva, Juliette, Adam
What a trip! It wouldn’t be true to say that any of it was easy. Weighed down by heavy backpacks and faced with disastrous weather, our 5 days in the peak district were strenuous, arduous and demanding …[However] I’m sure everyone would admit that we gained many new experiences and skills from this opportunity and know that we are capable of doing it again in the summer.
– Amelia F