By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager
For 48 students in Blocks 4 and 5, half term began with a Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Silver Practice Expedition from Bedales to South Harting, once again organised by the approved activity provider Ridgeline Adventures.
The weekend began with a training session at Bedales on the morning of 28 May, during which the students – who were divided into eight groups of four – checked their kit and planned their routes before setting off. Like the Block 3 students who completed their Bronze Expedition last term, students navigated their way from Bedales to Duncombe Farm in East Meon, where they camped overnight.
The following day, students continued their journey along the South Downs Way, past the Sustainability Centre, setting up camp for the night at the bottom of Butser Hill in Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Here, we perfected cooking and camp craft and some Block 5s celebrated a sixteenth birthday with a Nigella Lawson chocolate Guinness cake, which I’d organised, Lucy McIlwraith’s daughter Lily baked and Head of Wellbeing Kirsten McLintock delivered to the camp. We were also visited by Deputy Head (Academic) Will Goldsmith, who drove to the campsite to greet everyone with boxes of Celebrations and Miniature Heroes, taking the time to talk to the students. Director of External Relations Rob Reynolds also paid us a visit while out cycling.
On the final day of the expedition, students travelled around the South Downs Way, following different routes to arrive at South Harting Hill at 3pm, where they were met by assessors for a debrief in glorious sunshine. At this stage participants were certainly ready for home comforts but the mood on the minibuses that returned to school was triumphant.
With the practice expedition complete, the group are now set to complete their Silver Expedition in the New Forest in the first week of the summer holiday. As terrain is tougher here, but navigation is trickier in the New Forest, it will not be without its challenges. The practice expedition presented challenges of its own, as those students who found themselves lost en route or over packed and struggled with a heavy backpack can testify! However, invaluable lessons have also been learned, particularly about working together as a team to overcome challenges and work towards a common goal.
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend a success – the students, the team from Ridgeline Adventures, and accompanying Bedales staff Allen Shone, David Mann and Kirsten McLintock.