Year 9 pupils tackle Bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition

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As other Year Groups headed off-site for Activities Week, our Year 9 pupils started with the preparations for their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition which was taking place later in the week. The tasks introduced them to the basics of navigation, planning their routes, setting up shelters, cooking on portable stoves called trangias as well as first aid training from the School nurses.

All the activities were completed in small teams of five or six; the same groups would complete their expedition in later in the week. As well as the theoretical side, there were also lots of activities designed to improve teamwork, through tasks focusing on communication, listening, trust, problem solving, persistence and patience. Mrs Sturrock and Mr Forde challenged pupils to build a raft to complete a length of the swimming pool while Mr Brinson and Miss Shaw supervised blindfolded groups being guided through a tough assault course with only their team leader to help them. They were supported by the fantastic Lolly Discombe from Year 11, who was helping as part of her work experience. Mr Duff, Mr Allen and Mr Cuthbert tested the groups by making them transport a bucket of water around the low ropes course, over the Wall, through a ‘pit of lava’ with only tyres to help them and onto the ‘ski course’. To ensure that all the teams were up to standard Mr Payne put all the groups through a gruelling relay race featuring swimming, rowing, word searches and basketball shooting, so that all the groups were able to complete skills when physically and mentally tired.

On the Wednesday, the expedition started in earnest; the teams were bused out to the outskirts of Frittenden, before having to navigate back to School using their maps and compasses.

Progress was steady as the teams transported their backpacks packed full of enough sweets to fill a small shop, although their camping equipment and dinner did take up some of the room. Map-reading for the most part was accurate, even in the testing heat, and all the groups made in safely back to Bethany in good time. The last of the pupils’ energy was burnt off in a few games on the field before shelters were made and a pasta dinner expertly prepared. The night was capped off with toasted marshmallows around the campfire.

Sunshine welcomed bleary-eyed campers at around 7am as they found their boots and packed up camp before hitting the road again. All the groups coped admirably with the heat and sun which sapped some of their energy, and they continued their march towards Goudhurst. After a packed lunch, the teams pushed on towards and around Scotney Castle and eventually the welcome sight of the Bethany minibuses at Kilndown.

All the teams returned tired but pleased with their achievement. Fantastic displays of energy and determination were evident throughout the whole week, and all the participants will reflect over the summer on what awaits them on their Bronze Expedition in October.