For many UVth students the period after GSCE exams have finished is a time to flop in front of a computer game or catch up with friends; however, for nearly sixty intrepid Cranleighans the time had come to stuff their packs, pull on their boots and head off to the New Forest for their three day assessed expedition. This year the weather was kind to us and despite conditions being a bit boggy underfoot, it hardly rained while the teams were out on the ground. One storm did put in an appearance, but considerately waited until everyone was tucked up in bed before making itself felt. The staff had been wondering how to get a bunch of teenagers into their tents by a reasonable time, while gangs of six year olds were still roaming the campsite, clutching footballs and Red Indian outfits, clearly intending to make the most of the Summer Solstace. Luckily a meaty walk and the prospect of the same the following day led to common sense prevailing at a remarkably sensible hour.
The following morning saw a few rather soggy specimens emerge from their tents, but a hot breakfast, tea and a drying breeze soon had them up and going. This same breezealso kept most of the bitey things at bay, though the damp spring did mean that we had a record number of ticks to deal with, much to the delight of some and the squirming of others. Similarly, wet feet blistered easily and by the end of the third day several poor souls were hobbling along like octogenarians, on feet held together with Compeed, zinc oxide and gaffer tape.
The standard of navigation and camp-craft was high, though it must be said that many candidates could be a little more accomplished with the use of a compass. Dense woods are very easy to get confused by and a bearing is fairly essential, as a few unscheduled detours proved! As ever though everyone faced up to the challenge and completed the three day trek in good humour and with minimal grumbling – quite an achievement!
Many thanks to GGB, RSG, GLG, LJJB, STP, MFH and Charlie Ricks for help with supervision, shepherding the groups and ensuring no one got too terribly lost.
Dr Simon Young, Head of Outdoor Education