The Duke of Edinburgh Enrichment Week activities were launched successfully on Monday 4 July as all 56 participants arrived equipped, enthusiastic and ready to go.
Our pupils were instructed on Monday by Pat and Rob Milston from No Limits Development whose professional expertise enabled the pupils to come to grips with orienteering. They spent the morning with maps, compasses and a quiz in Cirencester Park, followed by an afternoon of completing maps and route cards ready for the practice expedition.
On Day 2 pupils prepared themselves with a hike through Cirencester Park in their groups for 2- 3 hours with full packs, before erecting tents and arranging menus for that evening and the following morning's breakfast. Selected pairs from each group were instructed to do the shopping for the group while the others sorted their equipment. Pupils spent a dry night camping on the end field at school.
Wednesday's breakfast was varied and included waffles, pot noodles, left overs, porridge and biscuits! Many of our young people discovered that packing a tent away is easier than erecting one! Some learnt that packs can grow heavier the longer they are carried and that only the essentials should be packed. We had a surprise visitor from the regional manager of the DofE South West Regional Office, Oli Rice; he came to talk to the pupils about their activities and check their online DofE accounts. In the afternoon our participants enjoyed a swim at Cirencester Outdoor Pool before going home for a good night's sleep.
On Thursday we travelled by coach to Stratford Park, Stroud where pupils were briefed on their Practice Expedition by their leaders from No Limits Development. Each group was sent out on their respective route - four groups walking via Sheepscombe and the other four via Painswick - at ten minute intervals while staff were assigned to checkpoints along the way. Pupils were extremely adept at finding their way to our campsite at Cranham Scout Centre and all had arrived by 5:30pm.
Pupils had a 8am start on Friday morning, returning to Stroud along the route they had not walked the previous day. Luck was with them as the weather was dry, which made packing away a lot more pleasant, although Louis’s socks left much to be desired ! The groups handled the entire Practice Expedition with maturity and common sense and staff were much impressed. Most groups arrived back at Stratford Park by 2:30pm, whilst two groups decided to take the scenic route unknowingly! But all coped admirably.
We are extremely proud of the way pupils conducted themselves and generally they all enjoyed themselves immensely. Aches and pains were soon forgotten at the prospect of arriving home to a welcome bath. Georgia said “It was tiring but it was friends that kept me going through the hard times.” Louis commented “I learnt a lot and really enjoyed my experience, especially camping with my friends.” They all agree that working in a team really is very special. Pat from No Limits Development was very impressed by the way our pupils interacted as a group and got on with the job. Well done DofE Groups 2016!
We hope that participants will use the summer break to increase their levels of fitness - by going on longer walks up and down hill - as well as being aware of directions and surroundings. If participants feel they to focus on something such as map reading, they can look at the Student area on the No Limits Development website. It is good to check ways to lighten packs - they get heavier the further you walk. The DofE website has some useful tips for participants.
The final expedition is Saturday 17 to Sunday 18 September, so there will not be much time to get prepared when we return to school after the summer break. Pupils will need to find their own way to the Forest of Dean and be collected after the Expedition, so parents may wish to arrange a lift share.