13 September 2023
Dr Jessica Dixon, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Manager
The start of the summer holiday was a very busy time for students on our Gold and Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programmes. Twenty one students then in Year 10 spent three days in the South Downs on their Silver DofE qualifying expedition and 15 Sixth Form students travelled to Bannau Brycheiniog (the Brecon Beacons) in Wales for their four-day Gold DofE qualifying expedition.
Both expeditions faced extremes of weather, from very hot to thunderstorms and rain, but the students worked excellently together. It is a fantastic achievement for all of them to complete their expeditions and demonstrates how well Woldingham students can persevere even when out of their comfort zone. Livvy and Anisia share their first-hand experiences below.
Livvy B, Year 11
Silver DofE was an amazing experience – bar, of course, the British weather (we were taught what to do if lightning struck too close to us!). Our expedition took us from the outskirts of Brighton to just outside Eastbourne and gave us some incredible views and displays of nature's beauty, especially the sunset in camp on the first night and the sunrise many of us woke up to watch on the second day.
Spending many hours each day walking and chatting, we all learnt new things about others in our group, making new and developing existing friendships. One key difference between Bronze and Silver is that now we were supposed to know more about where we were going. Generally speaking, we were much better this year. Except at getting into one campsite, where my group spent a good 10 minutes trying to get in before resorting to going through a random field - definitely not the right way. But, overall, it was a lovely way to start the summer holidays.
Anisia G, Upper Sixth
Our Gold DofE expedition to Wales was one of the most exciting and physically challenging experiences most of us have ever had. After setting off on the last day of last term, we dealt with hours of traffic and heat, so on our arrival at the bunkhouse for the first night everyone was happy to have dinner and get to bed.
On the first day of our expedition, we climbed up one of the tallest mountains in South Wales. The views were amazing, and our campsite was lovely. On day two, my group got (a little) lost in a forest because of the rain, but we orientated ourselves and somehow managed to make it out. The third day was affected by thunderstorm warnings - almost all of us had soaking wet feet and we were exhausted. This meant the feeling of finally arriving at our camp and making dinner was very rewarding.
The weather was terrible on our final day, so our route had to be diverted down from the mountains to a beautiful lake, which is supposed to be where the legend of 'the lady of the lake' was set. With the help of adrenaline, we powered through the hike and reached the finish of our expedition. On the minibus, with sweets, we were all relieved to be back in the dry and off our feet, but the experience of our expedition is something I will never forget. The friendships between us and beauty of our surroundings got us all through, and the belief in ourselves, knowing that we survived, was worth (almost) every minute.