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10th October 2023

Pupils Embark on DofE Practice Expeditions

This year, we had an impressive 382 pupils involved in the ‘Service’ aspect of our October Service Weekend. 199 were specifically involved in various disciplines of Duke of Edinburgh, with the remainder involved in Voluntary Action and CCF.

Our Form 4 pupils embarked on their first practice expedition of their Bronze Walking award, spending two nights at Yarwell Country Park. As most students joined us in the summer for F3 camp, they soon reminded themselves how to erect tents and use the Trangia to cook themselves dinner – a delicious tomato and chorizo pasta! Duke of Edinburgh is a phone-free zone, meaning pupils spent the evening chatting until dark and playing rugby around the campsite. A long 17km walk on Sunday gave pupils plenty of time to learn how to read OS maps with compasses, with only a few groups accidentally adding on extra kilometres due to their errors. On Monday, pupils mapped their route for the day, and then walked 10km unaccompanied to their finish point of Ferry Meadows. One group detoured from their planned route but eventually found their way back to the endpoint, whereas another finished their route within 3 hours.

In Thetford Forest, 12 Bronze Cyclists spent their weekend learning navigational skills, camp craft, cycling teamwork and inevitably developed their fitness by cycling approximately 100km across the three days.

Our Silver Award pupils were walking in the Peak District (Buxton) and the Yorkshire Dales (Swaledale) which was a successful trip for all 71 pupils involved and definitely tested their resilience and map-reading skills. Nine Silver Cyclists were also in the Peak District (Hope Valley), and spent their first acclimatisation cycle in heavy rain, completing 130km across the four days. In the south, our Canoeists spent their four days on the River Ouse near St. Neots and Houghton. Pupils were primarily developing their river craft and paddling skills, which enabled them to successfully canoe 17km on Monday unaccompanied.

Gold Award pupils were in the Peak District with our Walkers navigating Castleton and Hope Valley and our Cyclists navigating Matlock and Edale. Our Sailors spent their time at Rutland Water developing their sailing skills and nautical theory before a race around the lake. The Gold Award pupils are always impressive as many join in Form 6 with no prior Duke of Edinburgh experience and our Gold Sailors have no opportunity to develop their skills in Bronze or Silver, directly entering at Gold level.

This was a hugely successful weekend, with the weather on our side in most places. We look forward to our March Service Weekend and our qualifying expeditions at the end of the Summer term.


If you want to see what Duke of Edinburgh and Adventurous Learning looks like at Oakham, our Instagram is active throughout the year @OakhamOutdoors and @OakhamSchool

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