Silver Qualifying hike JULY 2012

63 students returned from their post-GCSE break to complete their assessment hike across the South Downs.  Most students travelled by train to Lewes. On Day 1 they trekked 20km to Ditchling Beacon and Park Wood in showers and broken sunshine.  They coped well with the sogey conditions at camp.  Another 20km trek took them to Washington via Truleigh Hill and Chanctonburry Ring on Day 2.  They spent a beautifully sunny evening at Locks Farm.  A final 12km push to Amberley and it was good to see the majority of students making the sustainable and independent choice by taking the train home.  Staff were impressed by the enthusiasm of groups and their attempts to leave no trace of their journey.  Well done!

Silver Training July 1-3 2012

9 Silver DofE groups trekked 50km in 3 days from Dorking, across to Chantry Camp site near Guildford, then across the Surrey Hills to Etherley Farm and finally over Leith Hill to finish at North Holmwood. A dry Sunday and pleasant evening at Chantry quickly deteriorated into two wet days and nights that left everyone soaked. Groups found keeping campsites tidy difficult in the bad weather. Groups will need to keep a more efficient camp to ensure qualification next time. Nevertheless, navigation significantly improved across several groups and spirits remained high amongst most groups despite the weather. Well done everyone!
FYI: there have only been 5 sunny days since May.
The forecast for the next two weeks is for 90mm of rainfall!
Silver and Gold expedition qualifiers later this “summer” be prepared!

Bronze training expedition May 6-7 2012

14 groups completed their Bronze training hikes. Sunday was cold, grey and showery, overnight temperatures fell to near freezing and most had a chilly night. Monday dawned bright and groups set off on their own to tackle the last stretch. Navigation was generally sound and most errors corrected quickly, apart from some notable exceptions on Day2! Camp craft, leaving no trace and keeping facilities clean was accomplished to a good standard by most groups after some reminders. Few items were forgotten and rucksacks were mostly sensibly packed. Overall, a good hike with a spirited performance from everyone in unusually cold May weather.

GOLD training expedition South Wales october 2011

Location South Wales, Dan Yr Ogof camp.  Weather: mixed sunshine and some hail showers, nice rainbows, then rain and low cloud.  On day one 7 groups undertook more than 8 hours of navigation and safety training around the limestone scenery below the ridge of Fan Hir on the Black Mountain.  Spot the shake holes! Then their 2 day independent trek took them over the main 600 metre+ ridge and then down to Cross Inn.  Final day saw a climb up “the nose” and thence along a valley bench in cloud: tricky navigation at times.  All groups performed really well and staff were impressed with the spirited and cheerful team work that held up despite some miserable weather: we were pleased to see happy faces emerging on the bus home.  Well done folks! I’ll confirm qualifying expedition dates 2012 v soon but I am hoping to offer Easter AND August (clash with biology ft), but that’ll be all for 2012: details next half term.

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Gold qualifying expedition July 10-14 2011

Mid-Wales: Plynlimon mountain, near Llanidloes: sunny, sunny, hot!  Excellent weather throughout, amazing unbroken sunshine … groups needed regular water top ups. 
4 groups trekked over Plynlimon mountain area: all students were spirited & enthusiastic despite the occasionally uncomfortable arid conditions and painful feet. 
They camped in various secret wild camp locations and left absolutely no trace of their visit: top quality wild country travel.
You were a superb bunch to take on this trip, we think you learnt a lot on the way and all the staff thoroughly enjoyed taking you on this expedition …
DofE Gold at its best!
Happy Holidays!
Mr C

Silver expedition June 26-28

The biggest Silver hike EVER! Over 100 students and staff were involved in this 3 day expedition across the Surrey Hills.  Groups coped well in the hot & humid conditions; the best prepared brought a sun hat, sun cream and plenty of water.  Navigation was OK: mistakes are expected and groups generally recovered their routes quickly.  The Surrey Hills area is tricky to navigate so it’s quite a test and you all did well!

Note: some hikers suffered unbelievably bad blisters which can be down to bad luck but please everyone do your best to check your boots fit properly, wear good quality walking socks (thin inner, thick outer) and try to keep your feet dry & cool and boots free from grit: not always easy!  “Treat your feet” and stop as soon as any hot spots appear. 

May half term expeditions

Silver training: destination South Downs: 4 groups trekked from Bramber Castle to Arundel Station via Washington and Amberley.  Surprisingly cool & cloudy & windy weather but no rain.  All groups performed really well on the big second day which involved some significant climbs and 10 hours of hiking for some of them.  Several individuals showed confident navigation skills and all groups aspired to near-perfect LEAVE NO TRACE camping.

2 Bronze canoe groups completed a 2 day overnight canoe adventure on the Basingstoke Canal for their training expedition.  Excellent reports were received.  Well done to our pioneering canoeists!  Pictures emailed to me for this blog would be welcome.

Bronze training expeditions May 1 – 2

100 pupils took part in the Bronze training expedition over a cool, breezy and sunny Bank Holiday.  Two groups had excellent conditions for canoe training on the River Wey, good reports have been received about their spirited participation learning to paddle open canoes and manage emergencies like capsizing.

Walking groups left RGS and walked to different camp sites around Brockham, Leigh, Box Hill and towards Chaldon.  Groups were trained by their Gold Award leader and staff along the way and many of these camped overnight. 
All groups completed the 2 day hike.  Most groups will need to prepare more thoroughly for their qualifying expedition and use their experience to operate more effectively in navigation and camp craft. Nevertheless, a successful training expedition. Further training for the qualifying expedition will take place Tuesdays 4-5pm throughout September and October.

Morocco Gold expedition

Gold Expedition to the High Atlas mountains: Feb 2011.  18 students and 2 staff completed a trek in the Ait Bougamez Valley in the Atlas Mountains this half term.  A very successful trip which featured some very cold nights, sunny days and awesome mountain scenery.  Passing through Berber villages and learning about life in these mountain valleys proved extremely interesting.  A visit to a school in Ilfrane was a particular highlight, though children elsewhere tended to beg for pens more than expected.  Our mountain guides, Azis and Murad, were excellent.  Marrakesh was immensely entertaining and both pupils and staff enjoyed haggling for gifts to take home.  Many thanks also to Carol Davidson, our assessor.  Well done to all who took part, a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding trip.