On a cold September morning, the Year 11s attempting to complete the Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze Award set out on a one-night camping trip in South Oxfordshire to complete the expedition part of their award. Involving a gruelling walk of around 20km in total, this two day and one night trip tested students’ endurance, outdoor abilities but predominantly navigation skills. Equipped with rucksacks full of sleeping bags, clothes, tents, plenty of food and maps, the teams left Uffington car park at 10:30 AM to begin their walk to camp.

In order to pass the expedition part of the award, assessors were present during the walk but the students had undertaken a practice expedition back in the summer to prepare for this ‘final’ expedition. The rules drawn up for the award were very strict and any mistakes by an individual could lead to their whole team being failed - £175 down the drain!

While the weather looked miserable and grey on Saturday, fortunately the rain did hold off as the teams made their way across the rather bumpy topography of South Oxfordshire. As part of the rules, each team had to have an aim for their expedition which they would collect evidence for and then feed back to Mr Deadman in a presentation back at school. In order to do this, teams not only had to navigate their way to camp but also observe the rather beautiful surroundings of the countryside to prepare for their presentation.

Once at camp, the teams pitched tents and started making dinner in the form of ration packs - these only required boiling water to heat up and we ate them straight out of the bag. They might not have tasted the best, but they were a welcome source of energy which would be extremely important if we were going to be able to survive the next day’s hike.

Early in the morning, dozens of very sleepy students climbed out of their tents and prepared breakfast, with food packs similar to dinner. Once finished, the tents were packed away back into the rucksacks and the teams embarked on their final hike to the meeting point. This time the rain did arrive, but it didn’t stop all teams completing the 15km walk and arriving on time at the meeting point and passing their expedition phase. It was a great experience and we all felt more together as a team. Despite the rain, we all enjoyed it. A massive thanks to Mr Sharp for helping out on the weekend as well as Ocean Rock Adventure who made this expedition possible.