12 November 2020
Mrs Fiona Payne, DofE Manager
On the first Saturday of half term, 16 Year 11 students working towards their silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award gathered at school for their practice expedition. Having been delayed by six months due to the pandemic, some students were feeling slightly apprehensive as they arrived. However, after meeting their instructors, they soon started remembering procedures and skills learnt from last year’s Bronze expedition.
Before lunchtime, equipped with maps and compasses, the students set off on a circular hike around the Woldingham valley area in three groups. Returning in late afternoon they each pitched their tent and cooked a meal on their Trangia stove. With darkness falling by 18.30 they were happy to have an early night.
Most rose before daybreak on Sunday to make breakfast, take down tents and prepare kit before being picked up at 08.00 and driven to Reigate Hill. On a mist-shrouded morning the view gradually appeared in faint sunshine as the students set off in their three groups, each taking a different route back to Woldingham. On returning in the afternoon, the students had to put up tents for a second night to replicate a ‘normal’ expedition where they would be camping on two different sites.
Tents were taken down for the final time on Monday morning and students cleaned all their equipment before heading east to hike to Chartwell, in Kent. On arrival at their destination in the afternoon, the groups had a debrief and reflected on their achievements over the three days. Although ready for a hot bath, they had clearly enjoyed the comradery of the challenge and spending time together outdoors in beautiful autumnal landscapes. This experience has set them up well for their assessed expeditions, which are due to take place in July next year.