The last 6 days have been busy assessing Bronze DofE expeditions for pupils at Shrewsbury School. With a large number of the boys wanting to do their expeditions, the school had a total of 17 walking groups out over the course of the week and hired in about 6 instructors to help the school staff supervise and assess the groups. The week was split into two, with three days dedicated to each group that had already completed their training and practice expedition.
The first day was spent checking kit and route cards at school before going shopping for the expedition food. We then headed to the Shropshire Hills where 7 or 8 groups would all stay in the same farmers field for the first night after having gone on a ‘shake out’ walk during the afternoon. This was an opportunity to convince the assessors that the groups were ready to do their unaccompanied expedition.
All groups aimed to be starting their assessed venture by about 9am the following morning, and headed off in all different directions. The Shropshire Hills offer a wide selection of routes, so it wasn’t hard to have the groups independent of each other with all groups heading for different camp sites / farmer’s’ fields. Having started at Womerton, my group arrived at Asterton at about 4.30pm having enjoyed sunshine all day. Their high spirits where lifted even more when the farmer allowed them to have an open fire, so I left them contented after a hard day’s walk.
During the second day, making their way back to Womerton by a different route, my group had one or two navigational hiccups, but managed to get themselves back on track without too much bother. On arrival at the finish, they were welcomed by the smell of a delicious barbecue that had been put on for them, and they were able to enjoy while we ran through the debriefs and completed record books.
Having done it once, we ran through the same general pattern for the second three day block. After a great period of weather during the first three days, the sun only shone on us for the shake out walk. It then gave way to almost constant rain for the period of the expedition itself, making it a much harder psychological challenge. Although spirits were understandably low, I was impressed that all the groups were able to persevere through the discomfort of being soaked through and made it through to a successful completion.