After a year of covid restrictions and lockdowns, over 100 students from Y9 and Y10, Ponteland High School, were able to take part in their DofE expedition in the Teesdale area. The Bronze expedition took place over 3 days while the Silver expedition took place over 5 days.
Throughout the various lockdowns, students have been working on their other award sections; this has included ‘DofE with a difference’ as well as developing skills and volunteering where possible.
The students were dropped off at the Bowlees Visitor Centre leaving them to use their map skills to navigate their way (with their instructors) to the campsites at Sayers Hill Farm and East Underhurth Farm. The camp for the Bronze groups was basic but it gave the students a good Bronze DofE expedition experience. Students quickly adjusted to the lack of showers but were pleased that portaloos were brought in for them to use!
The students staying at East Underhurth Farm had to climb over a wall every time they needed to use the facilities but they too adjusted quickly to the inconvenience of climbing over the wall; all part of the adventure!
The second campsite at Low Way Farm, used by the Y10 students for their remaining 2 night stay, was quite different. All the amenities were next to the campsite therefore they only had to walk a few hundred yards from their tents to reach them; no adventure at all!
The students planned their walking routes around Middleton in the Teesdale area taking in High Force and Low Force waterfalls as well as taking in some of the amazing countryside.
Sam Sykes Ltd who were organising the expedition for the school showed the students how to put up their tents and how to cook meals on gas trangias.
This was a new experience for many of the students; cooking their meals outdoors and
eating them on the grass outside their tents.
After a long day of exercise the students were surprised at how delicious food tastes by boiling water and adding different packet food mixes!
The weather was amazing and apart from some light overnight rain on the last day, the students were able to have a dry expedition and managed to get a sun tan at the same time. Almost unheard of with DofE expeditions!
It was wonderful to see the students in their different camps finding their own activities to do without the need for (anti) social media. Footballs and climbing to the top of the hill on the campsite became popular pursuits. The Y10 students were also able to use the fire pit for roasting marshmallows, putting them between chocolate digestive biscuits for a delicious snack; this was just reward after their long day of walking.
On the final day the students planned their last day of walking to finish at the Bowlees Visitor Centre. It was at this point they reconnected with their instructors for a debrief and feedback on how they had performed during the expedition weekend.
All the students were able to meet the DofE 20 conditions and successfully complete their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and/or Silver expedition.
It was an outstanding achievement for the students from Ponteland High School to complete their DofE expeditions during a global pandemic and this has been made possible by staff from school giving up their weekend to support the students to achieve their awards. Huge thanks go to Mr Shone, Ms Brockenbrow, Ms Byers, Miss Ireland, Mrs Lloyed, Mr Egner and also Mr Allman for the planning and preparation to allow the expeditions to take place.