Our three Gold DofE Award groups in Year 12 were wild camping in Hamsterley Forest in late April during their three-day training expedition.
After a crash course in tent pitching and use of a Trangia stove, camp was pitched on Wednesday afternoon and camp cooking got underway. The evening was filled with team-building tasks and, with a perfectly clear sky, much star-gazing and constellation-spotting, before all retired to brave a cold night.
Numerous navigation skills were learned as all students met the challenge of a 20km-day on Thursday, with no problems or complaints. As light faded, students still had the energy for the infamous ‘Connect 3’ game and more team-building tasks.
On Friday, a day of micro-navigation, compass work and dynamic risk-assessment saw students excel themselves, not just on steep ground, but on a steep learning curve. Then it was back to the forest for the orienteering competition. Tents and tea happened much more quickly now, but a packed day was far from over, as it was off to Knitsley Fell for the night navigation exercise, returning to camp by midnight.
Saturday saw a rude awakening as rain hammered down and the beck at the campsite rose rapidly. Although it was tough packing up in the wet, fortunately the rain stopped when walking started and, with heightened confidence, groups set out to navigate on their own.
Some very tired students returned to College to clean and dry the kit before heading home, full of the stories of their adventures.