Sunday saw the start of a lifetime of expeditions into the Great Outdoors for nearly seventy of our Lower Fifth, as they embarked upon their Bronze Practice.
The day started with a final briefing and explanation of what the aims of the two days were to be. We then divided into our walking groups, to go through the kit, emergency and safety procedures, packing, and route planning before finally fuelling up in the Dining Hall with brunch. When all was ready and checked off the teams set off into the wilds of the Surrey Hills. For the first few legs they were closely accompanied by their individual instructors, before being given greater freedom and more remote supervision to complete their walk into the campsites, scattered round the periphery of the School grounds.
Once they had remembered how to pitch their tents there was a busy evening of cooking various dubious noodle dishes on the Trangia stoves and planning routes for the following day. I would like to say that everyone settled down for an early night listening to the three species of owl that could be heard hunting round the School fields. However, much as hope springs eternal in the human breast, this wasn’t to be!
After a slightly lethargic start to Monday morning all the groups set off on their routes onto Winterfold. This time being given complete freedom to make their way between the set check points on their own. Everyone made it back to School in good time, with only a few curious stretches where some folk temporarily managed to dip under the radar. The usual “end-ex” admin was accomplished with speed and efficiency and the weary, slightly footsore, participants were able to slot back into their normal School routines.
Many thanks to the numerous staff and Gold Award candidates who gave up so much time to make this such a valuable learning experience. Not long now to the qualifying trip in mid-June!