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In June 2017 six students and five staff members from Sutherland House School participated in a one night, two day camp at the Trentfield campsite in Church Laneham, near Retford. Around this area of North Nottinghamshire is Clumber and Rufford Park and, of course, the world famous Sherwood Forest with lots of footpaths, bridleways, woods, footbridges and fords to navigate.

Students set up camp before embarking out on a trail they helped to plan with their class teacher. The campsite was great with fabulous, clean facilities and the owners of the site were incredibly friendly and helpful to our needs.

On average the trail routes were 4 miles long and took approximately 3 hours to complete. However, with regular rests, toilet stops and dinner we were journeying for far longer than this. The group had to work and communicate together to navigate themselves along the routes. They were supervised by staff at all occasions, however where possible, the students were encouraged to problem-solve as a group. At the end of each day the students were expected to cook their own food on a portable stove, make their sandwiches for the next day and prepare themselves for a very well earned, good nights sleep!

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The aim for the practice and expedition camps was to measure the physical effort required to undertake such walks. This aim was embedded into each walk with a relevant worksheet and a pedometer to measure calories, miles and steps. After each stage of the walk the student with the pedometer would read out the results, document the findings and pass the pedometer onto a peer. The aim has been motivating for the students and everyone has engaged in a positive way. These findings were displayed during our presentation assembly in school to finalise their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award.

This year we did not require an Expedition Supervisor Leader from The Duke of Edinburgh Award because class teacher, Richard Gennard, had attended training days at The Mill in Sutton-in-Ashfield and two overnight camps in Hathersage for the Countryside Leader Award. Richard Gennard is now qualified to lead groups up to the Silver Award.

At the end of June the same team of students and staff set off from Bath Street in Nottingham in the mini-bus and people carrier to Trentfield campsite. The experience and knowledge from the previous expedition enabled the students to set up their camp quicker and with more independence. Visual clarification was provided for each student at each stage of the camp craft, and they had their own box, and ruck sack, of equipment for ownership and independence. Additionally, the students’ confidence and ability to read the maps and navigate the routes they were undertaking had clearly improved from the previous expedition.

The weather on Day 1 of the camp was more inconsistent than before and the students displayed fantastic resilience and adaptability to overcome these challenges. Once again the group was out of camp journeying for two days on different walking routes, only this time an Assessor from The Duke of Edinburgh Award called Adam Cooke came to spend time and assess the group. Adam was very impressed and happy with the group and had no hesitation in passing them all on their Bronze award expedition section of their qualification.

It has been fantastic to see all the students and staff spending time together in such a positive manner and we are all extremely proud of the group’s efforts. Furthermore, the parental involvement this year on the walks, and at camp, was incredibly helpful and extremely appreciated.

It was a real team effort and we would like to thank all the brilliant staff involved who gave up their free time to make this years group so successful. They have now become the second group from Sutherland House School to get their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Congratulations and a big thank you to everyone involved!