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.
Elizabeth Rizzini, UK Met Office meteorologist and BBC weather presenter, presented our students with their DofE Awards last night at our annual award evening here at Reigate Grammar School. Lizzie gave an inspiring talk after presenting awards to hundreds of our students including 27 Gold Awards.
Simon Elson, our conservation day organiser from Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers, was our special guest who was there so that we could formally thank him and his team for years of outstanding outdoor education in modern local conservation.
U6 Gold Award holders gave outstanding speeches about their experiences. Very well done to the eight brave souls who gave extremely impressive and inspiring accounts of their DofE experiences: Will Appleyard, George Brill, Hugo Evans, Claire Forster, Laura Mak, Matthew Norman, Emily Ruiz and Charlotte Ward.
This year four L6 Gold students ran the entire evening and they did it superbly! Alanah Sheridan, Emma Findlater, Katy Welsh and Rosie Stanley hosted the event from start to finish and also organised displays and running order beforehand. They were pioneers of this new style of student-run event and it shows how RGS students will rise to any challenge. Well done, outstanding. They also joined DofE staff for dinner with Lizzie Rizzini afterwards.
We hope parents and students enjoyed this special evening and congratulations again to all those students for being so determined to get their award and thanks to parents for the support as well.
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.
Night Hike Nov 16: a happy success with 5 groups of award leaders cruising through the delightful forests up Leith Hill on a stupendous night with a beautiful moon and great views of Dorking, Reigate and the Wembley arch across to London (you can see the arch if you look closely at the pic with the view). Groups were spot-on with their navigation and had an enjoyable time. Well done and well sung!
PARENTS AND STUDENTS… FOLLOW ALL DOFE ACTION ON OUR NEW LIVE TWITTER FEED @RGSdofe
This week sees the LAST meeting for Gold L6 training expedition planning to Wales in half term. The meeting on Thursday is compulsory to help ensure a safe and well organised late season mountain expedition to S Wales.
BRONZE 4th years will collect EXPEDITION REPORTS on Tuesday which must be finished and handed in to dofe office by this Friday 18 October half term to qualify.
All meets this week as follows: Tuesday
Bronze 4th year de-brief and How to Finish Bronze meet 4-5pm Concert Hall L6 award leaders attend too.
Morocco Expedition Parents and student meeting Recital Room 7:00pm
Sign Language 4-5pm Room 12
GOLD L6 FINAL training expedition meet 1:15pm D1 compulsory attendance! Safety and emergency response, final plans and letters.
Important: L6 Gold: letters about this expedition went out last week: please check mail and get a letter (with consent form) from DofE office this week if you have not got one.
17-21 August 2013
Probably the BEST Gold qualifying EVER! 9 groups of some 60 RGS students completed their GOLD award qualifying expedition to Mid Wales. From the outset they were organised, efficient, navigated well, left no trace at camp and, above all, were just a fabulous bunch to supervise, back up, assess and assist. Staff, external leaders, assessors, local farmers, land owners and shop keepers at the end (thanks Cwm Trannon Community Shop in Trefeglwys) all agreed that these were a superb group of students who did the school proud.
After an initial soaking on Day 1 / Night 1 we enjoyed dry and bright weather in the hills. The ground was unusually dry after the heat wave in July. Midges were almost non-existent despite some high humidity and low winds, quite extraordinary.
The groups made the most of these unusually good conditions and many seemed to simply enjoy their last ever DofE expedition. Well done … we’ll miss you!
Staff who have or are gaining experience in mountains, who are willing to rough-it wild camping and at the same time dedicate their efforts to supervising students in remote mountainous terrain and make critical safety decisions are crucial for the safe operation of these trips. The crew we had this year were outstanding so a huge and sincere thanks to all of them!
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.
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.
Well done to the 35 Gold award leaders who navigated their way around a dark forest on Leith Hill. Although quite foggy at first, groups quickly got to grips with navigating accurately between the 8 check points along boggy tracks and paths. A useful training exercise and thanks to the staff who helped.
Latest news from Dan Yr Ogof: sleet and snow to valley level: we made the right decision!! 50 students did their Gold dofe training expedition in South Wales, Black Mountain area – which is in the remote far west of the Brecon Beacons and not to be confused with the lower and easier Black Mountains which are to the far east of the national park. The weather was initially good and most groups got to grips with basic mountain navigation as taught by experienced mountain leader staff. The trekking days were inclement and many students had their first taste of poor mountain weather conditions: well done for surviving! Whilst many coped well, some students found themselves wet and cold and with no spare dry kit, except for spare items delivered by staff. The final day saw temperatures dropping further, wind chill of -6C and snow falling on the mountains with a brisk northerly wind forecast to increase during the day. Whilst the weather was not particularly bad for well equipped and prepared individuals, I took the difficult decision to bail out and come home early because the state of some students would have pushed the potential risk of hypothermia to an unacceptable level. A point to note for assessment: it is important for students to eat plenty for breakfast to avoid endangering themselves and others. Whilst we thoroughly instruct and prepare students for these expeditions, it is often only when we reach the mountains that they discover the importance of their training and the pre-expedition meetings. The large dofe groups we organise for DofE, certainly bigger than those fielded by most schools, require careful management on mountain expeditions. My top quality staff and experienced voluntary adult expedition leaders take on an enormous responsibility looking after students in frequently arduous conditions. If you would like to assist as an adult instructor on our expeditions then please get in touch: in particular if you have significant mountain experience and / or a mountain leader certificate or are simply enthusiastic and willing to prioritise helping students in all conditions then please email me and join the team!
A large group of RGS students were presented with their Gold DofE Award from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh today at St James’s Palace. Congratulations to the following students who have left RGS and are now pursuing undergraduate degree courses all over the country or planning exciting gap years. Thank you very much for coming – many of you made considerable journeys to attend. We are very proud of you all for being such great ambassadors for RGS DofE and hope you can keep in touch!
Gold Award holders: October 2012: Imogen Adshead, Rhys Appleyard, David Assender, Emma Bates, Elizabeth Boodhoo, Emily Bowden, Andrew Buchan, Katherine Carmody, Sophia Cartmell, Rachel Clarke, Joe Ellis, Alex Fraser, Catherine Goddard, Declan Hall, Calum Harris, Keshini Jayawardana, Eloise May, Jonathan Windridge; Louisa Mamalis and Daniel Thorpe also got their Gold but couldn’t attend.