The Year 9 Activity week is focused around pupils completing their expedition for their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The start of the week focused on preparing them for what was in store before they headed off around the Kent countryside and camping overnight on the School grounds. 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.
Pupils were grouped into teams of 6 or 7 for their expedition and they worked within these groups throughout the week.
As well as the theoretical side of route planning and navigation there were also lots of activities designed at improving teamwork, through tasks focusing on communication, listening, trust, problem-solving, persistence and patience.
The groups were given the chance to complete a small walk around neighbouring the fields to experience the importance of a well-researched route card and accurate compass work.
Thanks to the skills of Mr Reilly pupils were able to use the School’s high ropes course to full effect. Performing tasks at height proved challenging for some but it was very pleasing to see how different members of each group supported those that were less confident.
Mr Forde challenged pupils to build a raft to complete a length of the swimming pool while Mr Cuthbert and Mr Hamilton tested the groups teamwork skills using a variety of tires, planks and well as the low ropes, course, over the wall.
Finally, to ensure that all the teams were able to complete tasks under pressure Mr Payne had them complete a round of football golf around the campus.
On 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. Throughout the day pupils put into practice the skills that they had learnt, with only a few wishing that they had paid more attention to Mr Hamilton!
Steady progress was made as each of the teams transported their backpacks stuffed largely with sweets but also their camping equipment and dinner.
All the groups made it safely back to Bethany in the sunshine before the last of the pupils’ energy being burnt off with a few games on the field before shelters were constructed, a pasta dinner prepared and some very smelly boots aired out! The night was capped off with toasted marshmallows around the campfire.
Sunshine welcomed bleary-eyed campers at around 7am as they gathered their belongings, struggled to find their maps and pack up camp before hitting the road again.
All the groups coped admirably with the heat and sun which sapped some of their energy as they continued their march towards Matfield. Some wished that they hadn’t eaten all their supplies and were very grateful to see the welcome form of Mr Payne with Bethany minibuses.
All the teams returned tired but pleased with their achievement. Fantastic energy and determination were evident throughout the whole week, and all the participants can reflect over the summer on what awaits them if they continue onto Silver and expeditions further afield.
A massive thank you to all the staff involved in the week and the pupils who were a pleasure to be around. They always had a smile on their faces and attempted every challenge they were presented with and can be very pleased with their achievements.