DofE Bronze Practice Expedition 18th – 19th March
Phew!! What a weekend! This was is the largest cohort of Bronze participants we have ever had take part in the Bronze DofE programme at Presdales with just over 130 students turning up to the start location. It was quite an operation to coordinate but thanks to the positive attitude and determination of the girls as well as the beautiful springtime sunshine, it was a massive success.
The weekend started off with excitement with all participants turning up at Cole Green in their shiny, new expedition kit not knowing what to expect. They met their instructors for the weekend and set off on their routes. Despite the blazing sunshine, the paths were extremely muddy and very soon, their new boots were all the same colour, soggy and brown, and the challenges began! The girls worked excellently with one another and their instructors to learn how to navigate using compasses and maps. Their first day hike to the campsite was approximately 18 kilometres. Considering that the girls were carrying heavy backpacks weighing in at around 1/3 of their body weight on their backs, this was no walk in the park! With just a few short stops for snacks and lunch, the girls were journeying for over 6 hours and there was relief once they arrived at the forest camp but the day’s challenges were far from over!
Upon arrival at Danemead Scout Campsite, the expedition groups had to choose a sensible spot to pitch their tents for the night and then work together to cook their supper in mess tins on stoves. For some, this was their first time cooking outdoors or putting up tents and after a long day on their feet, they were pretty exhausted by the end of it! As the temperature dropped and the sun set, the head-torches, jackets and hats went on and the forest camp was soon lit up by the glowing light of campfires. It was fantastic to see the girls cuddled up together, laughing and sharing their stories from the day’s adventures whilst toasting marshmallows in the flames.
After a VERY chilly night in the tents, the girls were up and working together again at 07:00 to cook their breakfasts and clear the camp in the crisp, early morning light. Despite the aching bodies and lack of a good night’s sleep, participants were still smiling and eager to get on with their second day of hiking.
The finish location was Presdales which required another long route of approximately 16km, this time under remote supervision meaning that instructors were challenging the groups to navigate the distance on their own. Groups had to put the skills they had learnt the previous day to the test and many made it to the finish in record time!
It was an absolute pleasure to take these girls out on expedition thanks to the positive attitude they showed towards each challenge they faced and to one another. They were polite towards the staff and showed maturity throughout and were a credit to the school. A Huge thank you must also go to Mr Bedwell and Miss Sippi who came along to support us all at camp and with managing the equipment.
The participants must now apply themselves to finishing off their Volunteering, Physical and Skill section activities and get their assessors to write up their final reports before the Qualifying Expedition goes ahead on the 20th – 21st May. Good luck girls and I look forward to seeing you smash the Qualifier!