Led by Mr Andy Bewick, Head of Outdoor Pursuits, we were extremely lucky to be able to run the Bronze DofE expedition in the current climate during the Easter holidays. The expedition comprised of 1 day of training and 1 day of qualifying for both boys and girls groups and despite no camping being allowed due to Covid, students were still required to pack all of their equipment so the experience was as realistic as possible.

On the training days, all of the groups began the day with an expedition briefing and a full kit check. They learnt how to plan their route, calculate their timings and distance and read a compass. Each group then undertook a supervised 10-12 kilometre walk, focusing on basic map reading skills, such as grid reference, map orientation, and features on the ground. With phones securely put away, there was no relying on Google maps!

Upon returning to school, the groups were issued with camping equipment on the fields, and learnt camp craft skills such as erecting tents and using the Trangia cooker to make a hot drink.

On the qualifying day itself, all groups completed an unaccompanied 15 kilometre walk in the area around Chigwell area and Hainault Forest via a series of manned checkpoints. However, there was no chance of getting too lost (or sneaking to the shops!), as each group was also monitored via a GPS tracking system from Chigwell's DofE HQ in the Drama Centre.

On arrival back at school, groups were allocated a camping area, where they pitched their tents and cooked their evening meal independently.

Alongside the practical skills, our students developed skills transferable to many other areas of life, such as:

  • Group management - including being sympathetic towards those members of the group who needed more help
  • Time management - planning their pace
  • Team work - sharing the turns to be the map reader and verbalising the route to others in the group accurately
  • Resilience - taking on a challenge and a gaining sense of personal accomplishment.

Mr Andy Bewick, was impressed by how quickly the groups got up to speed, given the impact of lockdown over the past 12 months and praised all involved for completing the award.

Congratulations to all our students who took part!

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