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DofE - the journey begins.
Posted On: 30/04/19
The start of a new crop of DofE students is normally a slow germination! The weekly meetings through the winter months are more of a trial to all concerned than a hint at the fun ahead. March, however, brings a new pace and direction as the need for forms to be filled in, kit to be collected and food planned comes to a head. Then finally the training weekend arrives!
42 quite nervous, but excited, students were dropped off at Little Abington campsite, many simply abandoning their parents as they eagerly joined their group. The instructors introduced themselves and the tents were put up without incident amidst the pleasant spring greenery and blackthorn blossom. Soon, the campsite looked as it should and the groups headed off without a care in the world with only their day-bags to carry. Map reading and compass work around the picturesque village of Hildersham took up the next few hours, whilst the sun shone and the birds sang.
Following a bit of down-time, where a lively match of football in sliders ensued, the groups planned their routes for the following expeditions and learnt how to cook on a gas Trangia; and so the new challenge of 1-pot cooking began. Pasta, in a variety of shapes, with tomato sauce, pesto or chorizo was a common theme across the campsite with groups helping each other out and sharing their new-found cooking skills.
After a session on how to pack their bag in the morning, there was a rowdy end to the night. Little did the groups realise what challenges lay ahead especially with the clocks going forward and eating into the already early start on Sunday.
7am on a campsite is a delightfully peaceful moment heralded by birdsong and tent zips! Everyone works in slow motion as the Trangias come to life warming porridge and hot chocolate. Some groups demonstrated very organised packing while others resembled a teenager’s bedroom floor. Finally, the last group left the campsite, set off across the fields and headed up to the Roman road.
The groups walked between checkpoints and so were reliant on their newly-learnt map-reading skills. By lunchtime the groups had realised that walking with a full DofE rucksack was a whole new ballgame; but despite a few map-reading hiccups the mood remained positive and the Haribos were still being shared around.
By the end of the day all the groups arrived safely back at Great Chesterford station, some with a little help from the minibus as dragging it out was not the aim of this weekend. There were lots of smiles and sun-kissed faces and relief that their parents were there to take them home once their de-brief and reflection had been completed.
So now, the next phase begins with greater confidence and understanding of what lies ahead. Our practice expedition will take them further afield alongside the full rigours of a Bronze expedition. The groups have learnt a lot in just a short space of time and it will be a delight to see them continue on their exciting journey.