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Students practise their orienteering and camping skills on DoE practice expedition

Posted on: 09/05/2019

Last week, The Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) team had the great pleasure of taking seventy-eight Year nine and ten students on their Bronze level practice expedition. All the girls came very well-prepared with kit for every weather eventuality packed tightly into rucksacks that they would carry for the duration of the two-day walk.

Once split into groups, each team left Hill End with the promise of lunch at the half-way point in mind. The morning saw the groups accompanied by adult guides who would teach them all the navigational skills they would need to continue the expedition after lunch, as well as all future expeditions, unaided. Every group did very well, even if taking a compass bearing took a few attempts.

After lunch, the groups were left to their own devices following a motivational talk from each of their group leaders in which they heard ‘remember everything I’ve told’, ‘look for three reference points on the map’ and ‘shall I show you how to use a compass one more time?’. While members of the staff team were each dropped off at checkpoints that the girls would pass through that afternoon, Miss Edwards and Miss Slater had the rather amusing job of seeing the girls off for the start of their afternoon walk. It was interesting to see how long we had to leave some groups to their own devices, heading in the wrong direction before we told them to turn around. One group learnt the hard way how to spot a river on a map, having happily walked next to it for 2km only to realise they were meant to be walking away from it. Aside from this, the navigation on day one was very successful and all groups made it safely to our campsite in Youlbury.

The girls had a tricky and rather slow lesson in putting up tents - thank goodness it wasn’t raining! - and a quick demonstration of the camping stove meant that faces grumpy from hunger and exhaustion soon turned to smiles, as the students cooked their culinary delights of vacuum-packed sausage, pasta with tomato sauce and even some garlic bread.

On day two, the girls demonstrated resilience, motivation and organisation in true DGS style as they cooked breakfast and packed away their tents in readiness for another day of walking. This time, the end goal was getting home to a bath, proper food and bed. 

Navigation of the route was incredibly impressive despite one or two mishaps including climbing a wall into a graveyard, ending up at the A420, and a situation in which both Mrs Walker and a whole Year 10 group mistakenly thought they were both standing at the same church - they were not! Despite this, every group made it to the finish with a smile on each of their faces and in good time.

It always amazes me the determination and immaculate behaviour DGS students demonstrate in situations where others may have lowered their expectations of themselves and others. Every single student did the school proud. They have made new friends, created stronger connections with current friends and have learnt new skills for life. It was an absolute pleasure to be part of the team for this fantastic trip, impeccably organised by Mrs Gilbert, and I look forward to seeing what else they achieve throughout the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Thank you to Mrs Gilbert, Mrs Walker, Mrs Barnes, Miss Slater, Dr Nickerson, Mrs Picken and Mrs Jones for all their help, dedication, planning and enthusiasm, which enabled this trip to be such a success.

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