Gold practice expedition June 2014

 

South Wales, Dan Yr Ogof: 4 groups (a small trip) set off on 4 days of training in mostly glorious weather.  Routes included the east and west side of the valley, the shake holes above the camp providing excellent micro-nav practice on the second day.  Thereafter, on day 3 groups set off over the Fan Hir and Garreg Las Black Mountain Ridges and descended into the Black Mountain camp site which has amazing views of the mountains.  The final day saw groups trekking back to Dan Yr Ogof via the scarp slope.  Navigation was generally OK, though some errors highlighted the need to focus on routes carefully, even in sunny weather.  Had the cloud been down some groups would have had difficulties, so map and compass work still needs your full attention folks. Plenty of food and water is also needed, some forgot the basic requirement to feed and hydrate to keep going effectively and safely.  Groups performed very well and were a fun bunch, so well done you!

A huge thanks to all the RGS staff: Miss Hancock, Mr Welch and Mr Newman and a special big thanks to our external leaders Paul and Becs and Pete and John.

MrC

Bronze hiking, canoe and cycle expeditions

Canoe, cycle and hiking expeditions took place across Surrey during the last few days. The canoe group successfully completed their practice expedition on the Basingstoke Canal camping at Mytchett campsite.  The cycle group did an great job completing their long distance adventure starting near the south coast, camping at Peas Pottage scout camp and finishing near East Grinstead. Hikers climbed Box Hill and stayed at High Ashurst.   All groups coped well with the showery rainy weather.  Well done!

Bronze dofe training expedition 4-5 May 2014

 

Excellent sunny dry expedition weather both days, though cool and frosty overnight.  Some 100 students undertook Bronze expeds hiking, canoe and cycling this weekend.  L6 Gold award leaders helped out too and numerous staff camped out and supervised group progress.  The Third Year did themselves proud and were a pleasure to organise and assist through their expeditions.  They were unusually good at clearing up after themselves at camp and some groups made an effort to cook some interesting food.  Some found their packs too heavy which is quite common at Bronze and hikers learn quickly to discard unnecessary or impractical  items like mallets and multi-cans of fizzy drinks!  Navigation was a bit hit and miss for some groups but they mostly found themselves again independently and managed to get “un-lost” by some careful map reading.   The usual difficulties around Headley Heath caught some groups out on Monday but this is a good chance to learn map reading and navigation by actually doing for yourself.  Well done to all the groups, staff were pleased with you and this bodes well for future expeditions.  Meet Thursday for lunchtime debrief concert hall.

High Atlas Gold expedition, Morocco, Ait Bougamez February 2014

Well done to all of the 17 dofe students who completed their Gold expedition to the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco this Feb half term.  The expedition visited the Ait Bougamez region of the Atlas mountains some 7 hours from Marrakesh and climbed around the outstanding scenery of the Happiness Valley from Tabant to Rbat then making a return via the high ridges between the valleys.  This is a remote area of great beauty where Berbers farm green agricultural land in cultivated irrigated valleys beneath the brown and yellow snowy peaks near Mt M’Goun, the second highest peak in the Atlas mts.  The weather was cold during the night and, after some brisk winds that brought Saharan dust early in the week, snow fell at night on two occasions before days brightened up to the more familiar Moroccan azure blue skies that dominated the end of our visit.  Day time temps mostly reached the high teens but night time temps fell well below freezing throughout our stay.  Wet sleeping bags on one night precipitated a decision to move the entire crew to a nearby Gite, which was probably colder for some than their tents!

The visit included a couple of nights in Marrakesh which is always a vibrant and stimulating experience.

The students were fantastic throughout the trip and a pleasure to take away.  From touching down in Marrakesh, they were wonderfully interested, sensitive, observant and curious about where they were travelling.  They were delighted to talk to our wonderful guide Mohammed, and our amazingly talented cook, Omar, was a particular hit with many!

Thanks to Far Frontiers for launching the trip, Carol Davidson our wonderful FF leader and also special thanks to the crew at MTT for their outstanding professional care for us during our stay.  Mohammed, in particular, was an excellent guide and made the right decisions regarding safety throughout our trek.

Great video of our trip here by Claudia

More on the weather we had here 

DofE this term

As per bulletin, arrangements for this term for students doing DofE are as follows:

All award levels spend this term planning their summer expeditions.  Attendance at planning meets is registered and is a mandatory requirement to join an expedition.

See PERKY criteria for details.

  • NEW Bronze 3 Years: Thursday assembly, then Concert Hall 1:30pm Thurs to “find out more” and pick up enrolment letters ; enrolment decision and letter required soon after and certainly before Half Term; Bronze groups will meet every Thursday lunchtime this term to plan first practice expeditions May4-5: muster in Concert Hall each Tuesday 1:20pm prompt.
  • SILVER training 4 Year: Tuesday lunchtimes starting January 14th 1:15pm – 2:10pm Geography Rooms
  • SILVER qualifying 5 Year: Tuesdays 4-5:30pm D1 starting AFTER MOCKS on Tuesday 21 Jan 
  • GOLD L6 qualifying/training/Morocco  (canoe and hiking): Tuesdays 4-5:30pm Geog Room 14&15

DEADLINE for completion of all expedition planning requirements checked and submitted correctly: Friday 14 March (please refer to PERKY criteria)

DEADLINE for students to complete and submit all AWARD sections correctly on  eDofE  FRIDAY FEBRUARY 14TH (First Aid 4th years have special extension to 14 March, so long as all other sections are complete by 14 Feb)

Apologies for this rash of deadlines.  They are necessary so that everyone is clear on what is required and by when to avoid disappointment and permit success for those who are keen to get their award.  As usual, if there are any individual snags or problems, please contact MrC at school: email, DofE Office open every lunchtime and for a while after school.  Also, please keep in touch with dofe on Twitter @RGSdofe , Facebook and this blog!

Gold dofe weather warning: severe weather possible on departure day overnight Sun-Monday

Whilst uncertainty exists over track and intensity there is a rising risk of a potentially severe storm developing in the SW and crossing the UK towards the NE over Sunday night and Monday. This storm, propagated by an extreme 180mph stingjet over the English Channel, could bring severe southerly gales with gusts possibly even up to 60mph for much of the south, especially bad towards the SE, including Reigate and near coasts and south of the M4. Storm Force 11 winds will occur in the Channel.  Whilst this is still uncertain it will obviously cause disruption if the worst case occurs.

Whilst winds are due to die down fairly rapidly during Monday, especially further west, the conditions overnight Sunday- Monday  may cause disruption to our intended departure and much of our intended route to Wales.   Whilst wind speeds are due to ameliorate further west during the day they will still be significant and any fallen trees or damage and delays could be significant if this turns out to be as severe as we are expecting.

PLEASE watch forecasts and school will make a decision in due course as to how travel plans are affected and what we will do in that event.

CHECK rgs.to/weather for details.

S Collins

Are your expeditions really PERKY?

Update Weather Alert: for activities day and Bronze (and Gold) expeditions: weather Friday and Sat in SE potentially unpleasant with COLD, WET and windy conditions: northerly Arctic airmass and LOW pressure to the SE of the country likely to produce heavy rain and showers.  Rain arrives Fri pm and will persist, with cold wind through to Saturday.  Overnight camp cold and wet and windy. Apparent temps / wind chill could be <5c so prepare plenty of warm clothing.  CHECK www.rgsweather.com for details.

Wear reflective gear.

Include layers of warm clothing including hats and gloves for cold wet conditions at camp.

Remember torch / batteries.

RGS expeditions are assessed on a PERK criteria. Participants will qualify if they have satisfied all requirements.

PERKY 2013

Tuesday 8 Oct: 4th year bronze kit check 4-5.30pm concert hall

Thursday 10 Oct: L6 Gold kit check lunchtime D1: arrive early!

Friday 11 Oct – Sat 12 Oct: Bronze exped.

Gold qualifying 2013 Mid Wales expedition: departs Saturday

The RGS Gold dofe expedition to Mid Wales departs Sat 17 Aug at 9am from RGS PMH car park. Please arrive promptly for kit check.

BRING YOUR RECORD BOOK!

Travel: The coach and minibuses will be full so please bring a minimum of excess baggage: 1 main rucksack each and one small disposable bag for food on the journey.  Please do not bring extra bags to store on the back-up bus for the duration.  There is no collection of personal kit or resupply allowed during Gold assessment expeditions: you carry all your kit.

Pack VERY carefully and sensibly.  At all costs reduce pack weight.  Large quantities of extra clothing are unnecessary.  Consult training pages and kit list pages here.

Food: check our useful advice on backpacking FOOD https://rgsdofe.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/food-tips-for-gold-duke-of-edinburgh-hikes-2609101.pdf

Blisters are a perennial problem on this expedition: please follow advice issued regarding correct footwear, appropriate socks and care of feet.  See training pages here and consult your RGS expedition guide. Briefly: make sure boots fit, wear them lots prior to departure; wax them if necessary, buy 2 pairs of decent walking socks, several pairs of thin inner socks, thick outer usually helps most people; some like goretex waterproof liners but not essential; keep your feet dry and free from grit by wearing gaiters (but not essential).

Weather: WET and WINDY on arrival in Wales at weekend (40mph+) … detailed update later but looks wet on Saturday 17 / showery and breezy on Sunday 18 Aug in Wales. Thereafter a ridge builds in with more settled and warmer conditions but with some possible rain tuesday as low pressure skirts in from Atlantic.  Warmer thru the week though never hot and with winds temperatures higher up could still be cool.  FULL waterproofs and warm layers (NO HOODIES) are, of course, absolutely essential.  The weather will be different to here. August can be inclement (see video). Navigation: You MUST have maps and compass ready for action.  Keep phones off and in waterproof bags, NOT in map cases.

Please note: local contacts say that a dry start to summer in the area and recent wet conditions means that MIDGE and HORSEFLY and TICK populations are very high: bring insect repellent, wear long walking trousers and long sleeves and hat are sensible precautions to ticks and insect bites.  Your First Aid kit should contain antihistamine or similar bite cream etc. 

Groups are advised to meet together prior to departure to run through their final preparations.  Do not forget fully weather-proofed maps and test all your EQUIPMENT very thoroughly.  Your assessor will be looking for completely independent, well organised and safe groups who are fully prepared.

Any snags, please contact SAC.

Mid Wales Gold qualifying expedition August 23-27Mid Wales Gold qualifying expedition August 23-27Mid Wales Gold qualifying expedition August 23-27Mid Wales Gold qualifying expedition August 23-27

Silver DofE Practice June 2013

81 students completed their Silver training expedition June 30- July 2. In 3 days they walked over 30 miles in beautifully dry weather over the North Downs and Surrey Hills. Navigation was easy on Day1, following the North Downs Way, but proved more tricky for several groups on the route over Blackheath and the Surrey Hills on Day 2. Group speeds varied with some arriving at camp in the early afternoon, whilst others took their time and arrived 6 hours later!  No real problem in summertime but please remember that sticking closely to ETAs is important to qualify and it is not a race…  accurate navigation is the goal; if your group is going to be late to a checkpoint then call your supervisor and rearrange things.

This group was one of the most affable and spirited Silver training group of recent years. Well done and keep it up!

Silver practice expedition

4th years:

Meet RYKAS Cafe, nr Dorking on A24: Sunday 9 or 10am depending on your start time.

Check with staff before departure: be ready for full traffic lights check before departure.

Groups finish Tuesday (from 11pm-ish) North Holmwood village, south of Dorking off A24.

Parent pick ups from this location.

Bring all usual kit but especially prepare for sun and warm weather Sunday: sun cream and sun hat required.

Visit training pages for more advice

UV levels