The expedition section of the Duke of Edinburgh award requires that participants travel independently and self-sufficiently across open countryside. In preparation for this, participants at all levels have completed their Training Day at school. Staff from Ocean Rock came into school to run the sessions.
As well as creating route cards for both practice and assessed expeditions, the Bronze participants identified what food and clothing they would need to bring and how it should be packed. They also learned how to manage in case of emergency and practised some basic first aid. Finally, they pitched tents and lit stoves. Throughout the day, there was a huge amount of information for the students to absorb but they responded with a positive mindset and interacted superbly with the Ocean Rock team, listening carefully and asking pertinent questions. The Bronze teams are likely to make some mistakes during their practice run in May but this is all part of the learning process so that they arrive at the assessed expedition with improved knowledge and a greater chance of success.
Many of the Silver participants had previously completed at Bronze level but there were also direct entrants amongst this group. The mix works well as those who are refreshing old knowledge can help and support those for whom it is new. With a strong scouting tradition in and around Wotton under Edge, many of the students, direct entrants or otherwise, are already equipped with some outdoor skills.
At Gold level, the focus was very much on mapping in preparation for both expeditions. These students will undertake a three-day, two-night practice and a four-day, three-night assessed expedition later in the year, so they had a lot of ground to cover. Most of this year’s Gold participants have completed the award at earlier levels so they have had a taste of what to expect. The main difference with the Gold award is the ‘wild country’ terrain and the level of independence the students will experience.
The first Gold expedition team will go out at the end of March, with the remaining teams completing their practice during the Easter holidays. We wish them well and hope the elements are kind to them.