18th August 2021
Despite the most disrupted and uncertain year of their education, the C2C students persevered and kept faith to complete their entire Duke of Edinburgh Award. The work started in September where one group started volunteering at the Conservation site. The enthusiasm and passion of Kieaehanne Wetherall and Reece Johnson inspired the entire group to improve the conservation and habitat during all onsite learning. This has led to much interest from the Sustainability group and plans to utilise and improve the site are now underway.
The stress of lockdown and learning in lockdown was eased with the Art sessions that both groups participated in. We tried to use sustainable resources and tied in some Forest School crafts to extend into the Sustainability goals and outdoor learning and health and wellbeing.
Despite the uncertainty, the learners agreed to begin some expedition preparation sessions onsite with Gareth Crome from Adventure Sports, just in case. It still seemed unimaginable that an expedition would take place until after Easter when we received confirmation that we could begin training offsite. All of a sudden, we had intense navigation and fitness twice a week, as well as some learners completing Functional Skills English and Maths and their Catering qualification. As we reached the end of May, we chose the end of June as the expedition date so that we had just a few more precious weeks to prepare. Luckily, the weather held and everyone committed to intensive navigation and route planning sessions in between some stunning but challenging walks!
The day of the expedition, everyone arrived at college confident and ready to go. As we waved them off with compasses and maps and some extremely heavy rucksacks, we thought we could relax until the next checkpoint. After a few minutes, we had a call to say a learner was struggling. This year, we set up huge adaptations as well as the core group so that those who had completed every other section, did not miss out. The inclusive expedition meant that Andrew Bennett and Nathan Jeneway could spend time identifying plants and flowers and reducing the physical exertion before we rejoined the group at Treacle Valley Campsite in Daccombe.
The learners navigated their route with ease into the beautiful valley with Haytor in the distance, setting up their tents before cooking some dinner on the trangia. We made it through the night safely but the exertion from the previous day showed the following morning. Despite a slow start packing up, the learners found their way down to Maidencombe to us in good time. The predicted cloudy day turned into danger of dehydration and heatstroke, however the coastal path to Shaldon through the woodland kept the learners safe. Parked at the Nature Reserve car park at Labrador Bay, the expedition end point, we anticipated learners would arrive early at the finish line but weight of the bags and the hilly coastal terrain pushed some of them to their limits. Finally, Nikola appeared at the bottom of the hill and waved! Not long after, Phap and Ethan appeared and finally Kieaeahanne. We all cheered and Ethan pretended to face plant as he was completely exhausted! We managed to peel them off the meadow and back to the minibus bus to drop off the kit back at the college, with a well-earned diversion to McDonalds!
Huge congratulations to the students and thanks to all the staff who helped make this seemingly impossible feat happen!