Year 10 Duke of Edinburgh Expedition
On 20th and 21st May, a group of 60 year 10 students at Dunstable Downs Visitors Centre for what promised to be an exciting Training expedition weekend for their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. The programme is designed for anyone aged 14-24, and it consists of physical, skills, volunteering and expedition elements (with an additional residential section at gold level) which can all be tailored to the individual, allowing them to develop as a person and also express themselves and their interests in many different ways.
The expedition was based in the Chiltern Hills, with students required to complete a 2 day expedition (including a camp out). This was across undulating, challenging terrain in groups of 7 where students put their skills to the test to complete an expedition. They developed map reading skills, compass and navigation skills as well as the ability to cook over an open fire.
The first day saw students recapping the skills learned on the Training day in March, accompanied by instructors from AtoZ Expeditions who could guide and support. AtoZ Expeditions are a dedicated Adventurous Activity Provider (AAP) who specialise in DofE expeditions and we have worked with for many years. The instructors worked with groups of students to navigate around 12km across the Chiltern Hills to their campsite for the evening, coming across many challenges including fields full of cows and even some horses!
Upon arrival at the camp, students pitched their tents and set to work cooking their meals. There was lots of pasta, noodles and hot chocolate to go around and spirits remained high despite one group managing to burn their pasta and another who spilt theirs over the grass, meaning double cooking for them! We also enjoyed a small birthday celebration for one student with balloons and banners decorating her tent.
An early wakeup on Sunday morning (6am) ensured students could cook themselves breakfasts of porridge and hot chocolate before their first unaccompanied, remotely supervised expedition. The first group happily left camp at 8:20am to begin their 6 hours of walking, starting up a very large hill toward Ivinghoe Beacon.
Throughout the day all students made great progress, showing their newly honed navigation skills and realised that many things they had packed were not strictly necessary and that being able to fit their tents and stoves for the weekend into their bags was much more important!
Across the weekend our students demonstrated compassion, teamwork, leadership, resilience and improved cooking skills to allow them to successfully complete their training. We are now looking forward to their qualifying expedition in three weeks time, also taking place in the Chiltern Hills.