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Last week five students and four members of staff from Sutherland House School participated in a one night, two day camp in North Nottinghamshire as part of the students Duke of Edinburgh Award. The group stayed at a campsite at Walesby, near Ollerton, in Nottinghamshire, which is a famous campsite used by Scout and Girl Guide groups from around the country. This part of Nottinghamshire is full of picturesque walks around parks such as Clumber Park and Rufford Park as well as Sherwood Forest. So it was the perfect place to stay for the groups Duke of Edinburgh Award preparations.

The group arrived at the camp at midday and students were supported to set up their tents, with each student having their own tent and equipment. When camp was organised the group came together for lunch before embarking on a 6km walk around Hardwick village in Clumber Park.

Students had their own laminated map and were encouraged to read the map and pick out landmarks to aid their navigation, they were also prompted to turn the map in the direction they were travelling which is a basic, however extremely effective skill required for walking and expeditions.

Students, upon returning to the camp, were expected to cook their own food on a portable stove. The menu consisted of burgers, hot dogs and pasta. All of the students participated in the safe use of their stove and cooked their evening meal, before washing up ahead of a evening.

The next day started at 7am as students took down their tents, organised their kit/back and loaded the vehicles. After several hot drinks we all had breakfast and students made their lunch under the gazebo, making sandwiches for the day. Camp was cleared and tided for 10.30am; therefore the group were able to start the second and shorter circular walk of the expedition. Students used their maps to navigate around the wooded area of Boughton Brake. The walk was approximately 3km therefore half the distance of Day 1. The group then returned to school around 2pm and helped to unload the vehicles.

It was fantastic to see all the students and staff spending time together in such a positive manner and we are proud of the group’s’ efforts. This year was a practice with the assessed expedition being planned for July 2020. Next year the expedition will have to meet several criteria such as: have an aim e.g. use digital media to create a travel journal, be out of camp for a total of six hours with a minimum amount of 3 hours walking, and be assessed by a DofE Qualified Assessor. The experience and knowledge gained from the practice expedition should enable the students to: set up camp quicker with more independence, increased confidence and ability to read the maps and routes being undertaken and further demonstrable independence around cooking food outside on stoves.