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St Mary's Catholic High School

Duke of Edinburgh Award Practice Expeditions

This week saw the inaugural Duke of Edinburgh Award cohort at St Mary’s go out for the practice and training aspect of the final section of the Award: The Expedition. For successful completion of this section of the Award, participants are required to complete a two-day, self-sufficient hike with a night camping. Participants must plan the route they will walk in lowland countryside, prepare their own food, and master the necessary camp-craft.

Mr Turner explains: Our intrepid participants were led by external instructors on their first day of practice, starting at Wren’s Warren in East Sussex and finishing at Hammerwood Scout Camp. Along the way they learnt how to navigate their way through the countryside with a map and compass.

Once at camp at the end of the first day, and suitably tired, participants learned how to set up their tents and prepare their own food. A night sleeping in tents was a novel experience for all!

On the second day, after packing everything away, participants set-off from camp in small groups without the support of an instructor! The groups walked from Hammerwood Scout Camp to Ayton’s Wood, East Sussex, using and applying their newly acquired navigation skills, planning their own breaks and working as a team.

All of our participants this week have been nothing short of brilliant; all welcomed the challenges that such a new undertaking asked of them; all worked hard to apply their new skills for the benefit of themselves and others, and all served each other as reliable team members!

A very big congratulations to all our participants for completing their practice expedition – I have every confidence that they will continue to shine in their final qualifying expedition.

Special thanks to Mr Turner, Ms Delaney and Ms Williams who prepared and accompanied the students on their expedition. 

D of E student, Ashli writes:

"Initially, my thoughts were pessimistic due to the responsibilities we had. However, as soon as our instructor explained our roles I was relieved and felt that the expedition was definitely manageable.

The first day was easier as we were accompanied by our instructor who showed us how to navigate using a map and compass. We also learnt about the need to keep hydrated.

On arrival at the campsite we learnt about pitching a tent and cooking our food. We all felt a sense of achievement - knowing  how to look after ourselves in the outdoors.

The second day was more of a challenge as we set off on our own without the instructor. It was disappointing that we got lost initially, but after seeking his advice we were soon on the right track again and were able to complete the practice expedition.

We learnt how to be patient when working with others, and also realised that in order to succeed you have to know your own limitations. Being outdoors, relying on looking for clues in the countryside was a challenge for us – such as matching what we could see with our eyes with what was on the map.

It was a really enjoyable experience and we are all looking forward to the assessed expedition in a couple of weeks’ time."