Our annual Bronze Expedition training weekend took place on Friday 28th Sept – Sunday 30th Sept at Abriachan Forest Trust. Thirty S3 pupils arrived on Friday afternoon and were quickly started on their training by setting up camp. Following on from this, the pupils were shown how to use stoves safely then they cooked their own evening meals. After tidying up, the pupils were divided into teams and worked their way around some problem-solving activities as part of the team-building element of the weekend. This was followed by a talk and discussion on expedition aims and the countryside code then it was out into the dark for our traditional torchless walk through the woods.
On Saturday morning, following a very windy night, the groups worked well to cook their own breakfasts then practiced taking down and folding the tents. This was followed by a demonstration on rucksack packing which gave the opportunity to discuss suitable (and not so suitable!) (and some not so suitable!) items to take on expeditions. The pupils then packed their rucksack and carried them on a short walk to experience carrying a full expedition sac. Then it was back to camp to set up the tents again and to have lunch, providing another opportunity to practice safe use of stoves. We celebrated Ella’s birthday with lots of chocolate cake, a very welcome injection of sugar after the walk! Thank you to Ella’s mum for the cake.
After lunch, the teams undertook training in map reading, navigation and emergency first aid, all essential training elements to equip participants for their unaccompanied expeditions next May/ June. We had a lovely visit on Saturday afternoon from Heather MacKenzie, our new Home Link Worker, who took a very welcome box of biscuits with her. Thank you, Heather!
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t kind to us on Saturday evening so the planned campfire (with compulsory toasted marshmallows) was abandoned. However, it did give some groups the opportunity to experience using the emergency bothy bags and a chance to build up new friendships.
On Sunday morning, the pupils worked their way around an orienteering course to practice their map-reading skills. Following the highlight of the weekend, Mr Foster’s poo talk, the group packed up and ensured they were following the ‘leave no trace’ rule of using our outdoors by tidying the camping area. The pupils were then collected at noon, all ready for a hot shower and their own bed.
Many thanks to Suzanne at Abriachan Forest Trust for facilitating our visit and setting out Sunday’s orienteering trail. Thanks also to Mr Foster, Miss Gray, Miss Massey and Mr Nairn for organising and delivering the training.
The practice and assessed expeditions will take place in May/ June 2019. Before the expeditions, participants are expected to complete the other three sections of their award (Volunteering, Physical and Skills). This involves undertaking the chosen activity for one hour/ week for either three or six months and asking an appropriate assessor to provide a written report so that the section can be signed off in their eDofE profile. Participants requiring help to complete these sections this will be given during our regular Monday lunchtime meetings if required.
Miss L Gray