On the evening of Friday 26 April, ten Bronze-level Duke of Edinburgh teams set off on the first proper test of their newly-acquired navigation skills. Starting at three different locations within Wareham Forest, the teams set off on a short hike to Buddens Scout camp, which was to be home for the night. All teams made good time and arrived at camp in good spirits despite the worsening conditions, with the arrival of heavy rain and strengthening winds. As the evening progressed with Storm Hannah making her presence felt, the teams managed to get their tents up and cook their meal for the evening. Following a tent inspection by the DofE staff team to ensure that they would stay put overnight, we called it a night. If you have never camped before, or have never camped in strong winds, it really does sound as if the world is ending just outside your tent!
As morning broke, the staff hesitantly opened their tents to see if all of the students’ tents had survived the night – we are happy to report that they did! Students then prepared for the day’s walk: cooking breakfast, collapsing camp and packing up ready for departure. Again, students set off from three different start locations within the forest and walked back to the school, a journey taking approximately six hours, depending upon navigational challenges(!).
All 56 students that took part conducted themselves impeccably, showing resilience, perseverance and determination in very challenging conditions. Despite very little – if any – sleep, cold, wet and very windy conditions, all teams satisfied the conditions required to qualify for their assessed expedition in two weeks’ time.
The staff team is exceptionally proud of all of the students that took part in this exercise – it was certainly the most ‘interesting’ expedition that most of us have participated in!