Walking with; Team 1
The explosion in the number of D of E courses over the last couple of years has been remarkable. When I was at school (back in the day….) I’d never heard of the award and I think it’s great that so many school have embraced the opportunity to give their students this chance to challenge themselves, not just on the expedition but across the range of activities it takes to pass the award. Last time I’d worked with Aim High it had been with a Silver team in a very wet, wild and windy Brecon Beacons, this course was somewhat different being with a Bronze group and been held in the Essex countryside. It was a big challenge for the team, one of whom had never camped before and all of whom were inexperienced in using maps and compasses for navigation.
Day one was an instructional day. We spent the morning setting up camp, discussing emergency procedures and what to do in differing scenarios that might be encountered and reminding the team about some of the navigational techniques they’d learned about during their classroom sessions. The afternoon saw us putting some of these techniques into practice in some pretty wet and muddy conditions. We looked at a range of navigation skills including; Orientating the map, catching features, following handrails, taking bearings and matching symbols on the map to features on the ground. We arrived back into camp muddy and tired but there was no rest…..we retreated to the barn to do some route planning for the qualifying expedition which the team will be doing in and around Epping Forest. They finished their activities for the day by cooking their evening meal on the gas trangias, pasta and sauce followed by hot chocolate and marshmallows!!
It was a very chilly night and the tents and ground were well coated with frost the next morning. On Day 2 the team were responsible for their own navigation and I was to meet them at checkpoints along the way. The group made their way through the picturesque village of Rothwell and then continued through the countryside to eventually make their way to the very picturesque pub “The Cricketer’s Arms” at Ingatestone. In spite of a few wobbles the team made good progress and with a little more concentration and a bit of teamwork I feel confident that they’ll be fine on their assessed expedition in a couple of weeks time! Working on the D of E is a challenge but a very rewarding. As an outdoors professional one of the most important things we can do is to impart knowledge and expand the horizons of our clients and on a practice expedition like this one you really get the chance to do this