As usual the advent of a Bronze DofE Expedition was heralded in the Houses by additional trip hazards cluttering up sleeping areas, and piles of kit strewn along corridors as rucksacks, sleeping bags and clumpy boots were loosely accumulated in preparation for Sunday morning’s departure. We were fortunate with good weather as the groups assembled down at the Outdoor Ed Centre and the forecast looked set fair until the following evening. Tents were checked, packs shouldered, straps tightened and half of the LV bomb-burst out over the Surrey Hills heading (in theory anyway) for the two campsites in Peaslake and Ewhurst. Being a qualifying Expedition the Participants were being assessed on their navigation and camp craft, and would be receiving far less help than on their practice Trip. Staff were of course around, but only supervising remotely, sitting in bushes at checkpoints and, like the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition, popping out unexpectedly from time to time.
With no more than the usual geographical embarrassment and supplementary circumambulation everyone managed to find their way onto their field for the night. Evening meals were prepared with various degrees of finesse, and seemed to consist exclusively of the inevitable pasta and sauce (next year a prize must be instigated for more imaginative cooking!) and after a sociable evening everyone settled down to sleep with varying degrees of success and consideration for their neighbours. A sluggish start on Monday saw most groups packed up and on the move by nine o’clock. Lessons about timing had been learnt and the additional experience from the previous day made estimated arrival times at check points a little less fictional. A few lost lambs had to be located and pointed in the right direction, but by mid-afternoon everyone was back at School; tired, a little foot sore, and with aching shoulders, but most importantly a general sense of achievement and satisfaction. Possibly the greatest testament to a rewarding expedition was the additional wave of applications Mr Pidgeon received for enrolment onto the Silver programme.
As ever a sincere thank you to the staff who gave up their time to supervise and assess the participants and to the kind land-owners who let us descend on their peaceful fields. Well done to everyone who successfully completed their expedition. Don’t forget to update your eDofE accounts with the new evidence. Good luck if you are carrying on to Silver and think about employing your new skills over the summer to create your own adventure.