“On Sunday, 24 first year students took part in their first Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award practice walk. This began in the pretty village of Bishop Wilton on the Yorkshire Wolds and took in the equally pretty village of Millington in a circular route.
When we began the walk, the autumnal colours were shining in the low, golden light of the Sun. The weather was settled, albeit in the later afternoon some dull cloud had come in with a light but chilly north easterly breeze. Taking lunch on top of the hill overlooking the beautiful Millington valley was bracing and we didn’t linger long.
There were several purposes for the walk. Students and staff were able to assess their fitness and ability in challenging terrain. In previous years, the value of these walks has been proven when things like ill-fitting boots or medical conditions have become obvious and we have been able to adjust accordingly so that students are successful in the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.
Navigation was practised. This is a crucial skill that the students must know when they will be completing their practice and qualifying expeditions. The best way to practise navigation is by doing it… and then getting it wrong in a safe environment!
So, it was to my surprise that my small group of four, who were in front of me, managed at one point to turn left when it was clearly shown on the map that they should turn right and they were looking at a signpost which pointed to the right! How did they miss that? It would take them about a kilometre of extra walking to realise that they were wrong. However, this was an excellent learning experience because they were able to tell me their error, and it was done in a safe environment. As one of them said to me, “We had got too complacent and thought we were better than we were!” We never stop learning!”
As I write, we have further practice walks and activities planned throughout the year and we are looking forward to doing them, with appropriate adjustments for the current situation.”