On Saturday 11th June 24 Year 9’s and 10’s were up and about early, in school by 7.30 pm, for the start of their Bronze DofE Assessment Expedition. We set off in two minibuses to Simonsbath on Exmoor and met our assessor who weighed our bags to check they weren’t too heavy! Despite them feeling very loaded, they were all about a quarter body weight or less, which is a DofE requirement. Then we set off in four teams, going in different directions. The assessor checked on us (and our navigation skills) at the source of the River Exe and then we were off again. It was one of those annoying weather days when every few minutes it would rain briefly and then get too hot again for waterproofs, but the scenery was great, with some very steep hills – at least the worst one was downhill! From about 4 pm on wards groups started arriving at the camp in Malmsmead, and once again the assessor was there checking on our camp craft skills and watching us cook up tea (pasta and boil in the bag rations being the preferred options). It was a nice night and we had a campfire and chatted until about 11 pm, when everyone suddenly realised there was a 6 am start the next day and went to bed quickly.
Sunday started with a bit of a downpour, wetting the tents nicely, but we had breakfast and had all the tents down and were off again before 8 am. Once again we had different routes, with two groups following parts of the coastal path and others the Lyn Rivers. Eventually we arrived at the final destination – Lynmouth. There we had a debrief with the assessor who picked out strengths and weaknesses in our teams – thankfully more strengths. We all passed our expedition.
This year, for the first time in a number of years, students at Court Fields are working towards their Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. The four Silver teams have been out and about doing their training – map reading on Exmoor and putting up tents, cooking and practising some very cold outdoor first aid. Hopefully if they ever really need to put a teacher into the recovery position, they now know how not to roll them down a hill by accident!
The Silver teams were also out on a three day practice expedition on Exmoor on the weekend of the 11-13th March. Four groups set off from different points and made their way to Cloud Farm campsite by the beautiful Badgworthy Water, the last group arriving just as darkness dropped in. The weather was kind to us but next morning the tents were coated in ice and could probably have stood up without any poles. After a breakfast (cooked on gas stoves by the students, just like their previous night’s meal) everything was packed up for another hike across the moors, this time to Porlock. The third day saw everyone heading off on different stretches of the coastal path towards Minehead.
A number of lessons were learned for the next camp – not over packing backpacks, thinking carefully about food, being tidy in camp and taking time over route decisions. However everyone did really well for a first time out camping with all the gear needed for 3 days and the only people who seemed to get really lost were some of the staff helpers!
On the weekend of 13th-14th June, 31 students in Year 10 took part in the expedition for their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award.
The training for this began in November and included meetings on map reading and navigation techniques, first aid and camp craft. Everyone also successfully completed a practice expedition on the Quantocks. The students were in five teams and planned their own routes on Exmoor. They had to be entirely self-sufficient for the weekend, carrying all their camping equipment, food and changes of clothes. Luckily the weather was a lot better than on the practice and wet weather gear was only needed briefly.
Court Fields Duke of Edinburgh teams were out on Exmoor for their bronze expedition at the weekend. It was really hot when we set off and stayed that way all weekend, although the temperatures did drop a little over night.