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Cirencester Deer Park School

Cirencester Deer Park School

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DofE Practice

Training for the DofE Expedition

DofEDuring 2018, 66 (new) Year 10 Deer Park pupils are taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, which consists of 3 months of volunteering work, 3 months of skill work, and 3 months of physical work, plus a two day one night expedition. The aim of the programme is to teach young people teamwork and encourage them to become fit, independent and respectful citizens.

Our pupils spent a number of weeks getting ready for their Practice Expedition, gathering the kit required, including tents and rucksacks. On the first day of Enrichment Week 2018 (2-6 July) pupils were training with No Limits Development, learning about first aid, route planning and checking their kit.

DofE enrichment week 2018

The following day, after a long hike with full kit, they spent a night camped on the school grounds with the Deer Park DofE staff team - and, with the help of our Tech Team, were able to watch the England-Sweden match in the Hall and temporarily have some respite from the ever present heat! Walking with full kit definitely helped our pupils assess what they would actually need on their Practice Expedition which took place near the end of Enrichment Week.

DofE enrichment week 2018

DofE enrichment week 2018

DofE enrichment week 2018

On Thursday 5 July, our DofE pupils were dropped off at Stratford Park in Stroud to embark on their Practice Expedition which consisted of 16 hours of walking over 2 days, pitching a tent to sleep in and cooking both evening meal and breakfast. The expedition was run by No Limits Development and members of school staff, who accompanied the pupils throughout the trip, leading the expedition and giving support to all students.

The Practice Expedition and the activities done during Enrichment Week will help our pupils complete their final assessed expedition in September.

“I was hugely impressed by the pupils’ maturity, resilience and resourcefulness during Enrichment Week, and shared their sense of pride and relief when they arrived back at Stratford Park on the Friday, having completed the training expedition in very difficult and very hot conditions. I am extremely grateful to the staff who supported and coordinated the movement of pupils across the two days of the practice expedition; it was a huge challenge for all those concerned; a challenge which was met head-on!” Mr Reed, DofE Manager

One of our pupils, Oscar, has written a report of his week:

ENRICHMENT WEEK 2018: Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award Training

The week that I spent training for my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award has been really enjoyable and I feel that I have learnt a lot. By pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I have proved to myself that I am capable of achieving so much more that I believed I could.

On the first day of training, we had our expedition kit checked by the No Limits staff that were on site to support us in preparing for our practice expedition later in the week. After doing so, we were split into groups to attend different tutorials where we learnt some of the basic skills that we would need during our expedition such as putting up tents, map reading, cooking on camping stoves and some essential health and safety. At the end of the day we worked in our expedition groups to plan the route we would be taking on our practice trek later that week.

The following day we were given the task to go on a hike from school carrying our full kit. We arrived back in mid-afternoon, having walked for between 4 and 5 hours. This experience aimed to give us the necessary confidence to ensure we were ready for the upcoming expedition. After arriving back at school, we set up camp and tried to recover from our hot and exhausting trek. We went on a quick trip to Tesco’s to buy some supplies, then cooked our dinner on our camping stoves, using the skills acquired on our initial training day. Everyone managed to get to sleep eventually, being pretty tired from the heat and the walk.

In the morning we got up early and cooked breakfast before packing away our tents and equipment. Working in our expedition groups we spent some time reviewing our plans and routes for our two day walk and camp. We then headed off to the Lido for an afternoon swim and some relaxation by the pool.

Everyone met at Stratford Park in Stroud at 9.30 the next morning, anxious to get started on their trek. Not long after arriving, we all set off in groups of between 5 and 7 on the first day of our expedition. During our walk we faced many challenges, for example at one stage my group completely lost our bearings and momentarily panicked. However, using the skills gained earlier in the week, we were able to look at the visible landmarks and roads and identify our location on the map. Luckily we were still on the right route. The day of the trek was unbelievably hot, with temperatures hitting 30°. We were carrying heavy loads and wearing big boots. This was a huge challenge for us physically and we had to make sure that we stayed hydrated and managed our limited water supplies effectively.

After a 22 kilometre trek up and down hills, across fields, in draining heat, along with carrying our heavy and bulky backpacks, we arrived at our destination, where we would be camping that night. On arrival we swiftly set up our tents and immediately started to cook our dinner – so hungry after our long walk. Whilst doing this, we were also keeping an eye out for the other groups who arrived over the course of the next few hours. When everyone had arrived, we settled down for the night’s sleep.

We all woke quite early the next morning. Everything was put away and packed into our bags before 7 am, so we promptly left the camp and set off on our return journey home. The second day’s trek was a lot easier that the day before, probably due to our focus and determination to get back.

I have very much enjoyed my time during my DoE training week and am now feeling ready and prepared for the full Bronze expedition in September.