The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme was established by the late Duke of Edinburgh to cultivate the persistence, endurance, independence and survival skills of young people aged 14-24 through various activities. Wellington College International Tianjin became a member of the award scheme last year and continues to carry out these activities so that pupils can complete their ability training outside of the classroom. One of the most difficult parts is the outdoor load-bearing hike. This activity requires students to hike and complete tasks entirely independently over 6-7 hours per day carrying heavy equipment and camping alone in the wild, at night.
The Adventurous Journey section is the hardest section of The Duke of Edinburg Award, which encourages a sense of adventure and self-discovery while undertaking a journey within a group of peers. Working in small groups, all participants plan, train for, and undertake a journey with a purpose, in an unfamiliar environment. For the bronze team, they needed to live independently and hike in the wild for 2 days and one night. The silver team completed their hike in the wild in 3 days and two nights.
The opportunity to engage in adventurous and challenging activities in a new environment provided participants with the chance to learn more about their wider environment, including the impact that such activities can have. The opportunity also helped develop their self-confidence, health and fitness, teamwork, and leadership.
As the lead teacher of the silver team, I was deeply moved by the strong willpower and the persistence of my candidates and the spirit of not being afraid of hardship. Through this journey, each of them has become a better person.
This trip was done independently and collaboratively by the pupils'. They needed to hike with heavy backpacks during the day and sleep in tents at night. They had to bring everything they needed for the trip including clothes, daily food, 3 litres of water per day, medicine, tents, sleeping bags, and moisture-proof mats. All of the above items had to be prepared and carried independently. That is to say, each of them needed to carry a 20kg backpack and hike and climb the mountain for 6-7 hours in the daytime heat. Many places had no paths at all. They needed to explore a path by themselves, and many places were very steep with angles of 60 degrees. No one could imagine how hard the journey was. As a teacher, I was prepared to hear a lot of complaints from them. But to my surprise, no one complained, no one was holding back, everyone supported each other and insisted on completing the whole journey. They were no longer the children I needed to worry about every day at school, they became my heroes.
Seven adventurous pupils took part in the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award trip this summer. Carrying all their kit, including their tents, food, and cooking equipment, they hiked up and down – and up and down – the beautiful hills around the Bai Hua Mountain area. Team captain Nancy ensured that everyone kept together and didn’t give up, even when climbing some very large hills with their even larger backpacks. The scenery was incredible, and we got to pass through some areas which we could never reach by car. Joanna and Audrey used a compass and map to navigate very difficult paths. Eric, who had more energy than everyone else put together, was our scout, bounding off to check all the routes. In this, he was ably assisted by William, and together they kept us on the right route. We camped at a beautiful lookout point pupils cooked over camping stoves and enjoyed sharing an odd but delicious concoction of foods. We could only bring food that wouldn’t go off in the heat and wasn’t too heavy either. As it got dark, we found ourselves camping in the middle of a misty cloud!
The next day we ensured we cleaned up after ourselves and left no litter behind. Pupils supported each other when times got tough. When one pupil felt unwell other team members happily volunteered to carry some of her equipment – Michael deserves praise for carrying an entire extra tent! Our most determined pupil was Chris. Although she had hurt her ankle the day before, she kept trekking on (under the medical supervision of our guide). Similarly, Joanna, whose blisters meant she was hobbling by the end of day two kept going until the end. Pupils were very relieved to reach the end of the trek and sat their exhausted bodies down on the bus, but I am sure they will all agree they had a fabulous time. Their next challenge is the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award!
From our Young Adventurer
This Edinburgh training exercise tested our confidence, determination, and perseverance. Everyone persevered to the end. After two days of the trip, everyone carried a 20kg bag and walked 10 kilometres (7-8 hours) a day.
During the journey, some teammates tripped and fell but we all helped and finally completed the whole journey (20 kilometres)! I think the Duke of Edinburgh training this time, opened my heart very much. It taught me teamwork, how to helped each other, and taught me survival skills.
Thank you for giving us such a good time. Thanks to our school and the teachers for their help. Finally, I want to thank my teammates on the hike, thank you!
At the start of the trip, we may not have all been able to keep up the same pace for this high-intensive trip. To solve this problem, I contacted Nancy and Michael to re-design the walking structure and we moved the slowest walker into the second place in line, as was the best way to keep a steady pace.
Other than that, we accidentally walked in the wrong direction, using the map reading skills we learned. I quickly looked at the map and discussed with my peers to find the right direction to go. The most important part of that mistake, to me, was identifying our problem of walking in the wrong direction, yet we managed to find it out through efficient communication and discovery.
The journey was very tough, as I suffer from asthma, I have not done camping before with such an intensive journey to do. I am glad that we all made it through. It was a huge accomplishment and I have truly stepped out of my comfort zone and I'm looking forward to more challenges to conquer. Through the journey, not only was I impressed by the nature, our teamwork was amazing. I have realized now how important it is to support each other. We would not be able to complete this trip without everyone’s effort.
Through the clear responsibility split, I feel we all got to develop our leadership skills, which is important in various areas.
These young adventurers certainly represented courage which is one of our five core values at the College; they successfully confronted their fear, pain, danger and uncertainty. Their experience of taking risks and challenging themselves will become something to look back upon with pride.