Duke of Edinburgh silver training weekend

Saturday 24th March:
Four brave, adventurous Year 10 students embarked on a vigorous weekend of Duke of Edinburgh Silver Training. From six figure grid references to putting up tents there was nothing we didn’t master by the end of the weekend.

Our weekend began with a quick recap of the basic properties of a map such as the key, the scale and the different symbols and notations used. For example: Do you know what the green dashed lines are on a map? Don’t know the answer, I’m sure our Year 10s would be perfectly happy to give you a crash course in map reading.

Next item on the agenda: route planning. No google maps, no internet, no drones just a map, compass, pencil, a piece of string and our intellect. Our Silver Duke of Edinburgh consists of 3 days walking covering at least 15km a day. Although unconventional, we began planning our route from our destination not our starting point to ensure that we covered 15km per day and avoided walking through towns and villages. Route planning consists of breaking down our route in legs and calculating the time, distance, bearings and height climbed in metres. This is where the scale, string and a ruler come in handy.

Once we marked out and planned our route we went to pitch up our tents. First, we separated the inners, outers, poles and pegs and from there it was simple. Both Bournville tents where up as quick as a flash while the boys from Kings Norton still struggling with the poles.

Tents up, route planned, first aid next. First Aid is vital to our expedition although we hope no injuries will occur we must be prepared. The Traffic light system is effective in dealing with scenarios: red- call an ambulance they need urgent medical attention; amber-call an instructor they don’t feel comfortable moving; green-there good to carry on. By using this traffic light system injuries are quickly assessed and dealt with. We covered all the possible injuries/conditions from hyperthermia, hypothermia, blisters, cuts and broken bones.

Once we had fuelled up on food- a sandwich- it was our chance to back a rucksack with all things we may possibly need and where to put it in our rucksack. One vital element: food. We assessed the food we had brought this weekend; the weigh it added the space it took up and the number of calories.
Time for a challenge, putting all the skills we had learned previously that morning to do the orienteering course at Upton warren. I’m happy to say we found 9 of the 19 that were on site. The aim of orienteering is to find all the red markers take a selfie with them and make sure we noted the corresponding letter to the number. In the last 15 minutes we managed to find 4 of our total of nine.

Saturday afternoon consisted of finishing our route cards and cooking our dinner on Trangias. The set-up of a Tangia is simple but cooking the food to ensure it cooked is another thing. On the menu: Bolognese; pasta; and mash potatoes. Yum!

Then the last hour to finish our route cards before going off to bed. Well that was the plan, but unfortunately what we thought would be an hour turned into an hour and a half. However, once we completed our route cards we were ready for a long sleep-if it hadn’t been a rather cold night. Even after having 3 layers on we were still chilly and rather restless but thank fully I remembered to bring a woolly jumper and soon warmed up.

Sunday 25th March:
Although we woke up to a cold day the sunrise and breakfast put a smile on our faces. Then it was off to the Clent Hills to put all our navigation skills into practice. Our instructor gave us a map compass and told us to find were we were, we found it in the end. Then after a brief error in direction we got back on track and reached the viewpoint. Not only was the view glorious but the weather was too-surprisingly. We all took it in turns to navigate and helped each other with the bearings and orientation of the map. After our two and a half hour navigation walk we went back to our starting point where we sat down in the safety of the shade.

Tummies full, we ventured out into the rugged hills for some orienteering. Time was off the essence. We had one hour to find as many markers as possible. Once we completed orienteering our weekend of training was over.

Anna Van Der Raay (Y10 student)

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