On the morning of Thursday 16 June, 60 Year 10 students congregated on the gravel, ready to embark upon their Qualifying Duke of Edinburgh Silver Expedition in the New Forest. The weather looked to be punishing, with highs of 30˚C forecast; everyone's rucksacks were weighed down by lots of sun cream and huge bottles of water.
The expedition began at Foxlease near Lyndhurst and groups got kitted up before heading out into the baking afternoon heat. All the groups made fantastic progress, in spite of the temperature, and wound up at their respective campsites for a game of football and an early night. Friday 17 was forecast to be the hottest day of 2022 so far; the boys were encouraged to get up as early as possible to get the bulk of the walking in before the height of the day's heat. We were so impressed to find groups huddled round their trangias at 4am making breakfast, ready for the longest day of walking. The first groups were out of the campsites and on their way at 5am.
A long, hot afternoon faced groups at the other end of Friday's walk. Everyone had prepared well for the heat, taking on board lots of fluids, wearing hats and putting on lots of sun cream. As the heat wore off in the evening, those staying at Fernycroft campsite entertained themselves with table tennis and a game of beach volleyball. Meanwhile, over at the Tile Barn campsite, a big game of football spontaneously started: Dulwich vs. The Leys School, who were camping on the neighbouring pitch, also on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition.
Saturday saw another early start and students headed off for their final stretch of walking. To complete the Silver DofE expedition, pupils must finish the walk with a verbal presentation to their assessor, which must show awareness of the surroundings they have been walking in. The groups covered a wide variety of topics: the history of the area; the flora and fauna of the New Forest; different types and purposes of gates, and the effect of tourism upon the area, to name a few.
The expedition wound up around lunchtime on Saturday, just as the weather folded. The kit was cleaned and collected and groups either napped (or played impromptu cricket with a roll-mat as a bat) in the grounds of Brockenhurst College, as we waited for the coach. Needless to say, the drive home was very quiet: everyone needed a good rest after this major accomplishment. All the participants can be really proud of themselves for their achievements this weekend and we look forward to seeing many boys return to take on Gold DofE in the future.