Students talk about their experience on the Duke of Edinburgh trip

Posted 18 May 2016

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Students who have taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh share their journey.

Two students have written about their walking trip as part of their Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

"When you think the road is too long, it means you should continue to walk" … A Level student Minh Thuy Hong Nguyen (studying Politics, Economics, Further Maths and Accounting) reflects on a tough but exhilarating Duke of Edinburgh weekend.

Tired, wet, cold, starving, desperate and excited were the emotions that each of the Duke of Edinburgh participants experienced in the last few days.

We started our journey to the New Forest – a national park in the south of London on Saturday morning. We were a little bit nervous but excited. We packed our rucksacks onto the coach and began the expedition.

After dropping the Bronze participants at the waiting area, we arrived at the Silver starting point at 11:45am. We were split into two teams (under and over 18), given maps, compasses, checklists and rough instructions. Leaving both teams at the first checkpoint, James, our instructor, ran first to the campsite through a shortcut.

We were excited, but were soon overwhelmed by tiredness after realising we were lost in the middle of the 'jungle'. Our under-18-team split up into two teams in the hunt for an escape route, which then failed when one of the members got stuck in the mud. Climbing up a peak, running down a valley, exploring through the forest, we finally arrived at the campsite at 8.30am, where the instructor had been waiting for hours. We started to put up the tent and learned how to use the stove, then the other team arrived. We made up the tent and cooked and ate dinner during the darkness.

After sleeping through a freezing night, we woke up at 7.30am the next morning. We were exhausted, due to carrying rucksacks on the back for a whole day. Nevertheless, with some practice in reading the map and using the compass on the first day, we finally arrived at Foxlease –  another campsite – to reunite with the Bronze team late in the afternoon. It turned out to be a rainy and windy reunion with heavy rain at midnight.

Luckily enough for all of us, once we started the last 11km on Monday, it stopped raining and there was sunshine. Despite having to walk the shortest distance so far, the third day came as a shock to most of us. Some had collapsed and decided to give up, some were too tired to pick up their rucksacks, but in the end, when you think the road is too long, you will continue to walk. We kept walking, through forests, fields, streams, mud, railways, uphill and downhill, until we saw it; Ashurst station, our last checkpoint. We ran ahead like never before.

At that moment, 11, 14, 16km a day was just a number, and if we believe we can pass it, nothing can stop us.

“It’s our school. Hurry up and take your rucksack”. The call from a girl sitting next to me on the coach woke me up from a long, tired and unconscious nap, which brought me back to where we were three days ago. We now have our final qualifying expedition to South Downs coming up and I’m looking forward to it!

Jessie, Yichen Yao (studying Business Foundation) finds out what it means, the benefits and gets some advice for participants.

This year, many students at Bellerbys College are willing to be a part of Duke of Edinburgh. I asked the leader of the Duke of Edinburgh, Paul Harniman, about the benefit of participating:

"First, it is a great program for the young people" he explained. "They can have a new opportunity to try something different and fresh. Next, due to the fact that there are four sections people must take, they can improve the skills they already have. Last but not least is that they can take these sections regularly and do a lot help to their physical body."

First Aid Training - Hannah, Jenny, Byron, Kin Hou, Michelle, Delcio, Galileu (6)            qualifying expedition

What other benefits does the Duke of Edinburgh have?

Paul said: "Universities and employees in many companies think highly of this and it can be included in students’ personal statements and job applications in the future career. In addition, students can meet new friends and get on with them. From this activity, they can learn how to manage their time properly. Students who attend this activity can also visit a different part of UK with a different angle and various experience."

Here is some advice Paul gives to students:
  • During your spare time, you should try something new.
  • You need to prepare to co-operate with others.
  • You should push yourself in doing some things.

I also asked the same question to the students who took part in the activity. In general, they think it can help them to become much more active and it is a really good chance to socialise with other people. Making new friends and having a colourful college life is better than staying at home and doing nothing. What’s more, it can be written in your personal statement which can be useful in UCAS. So students think that Duke of Edinburgh makes a very positive contribution to their college life.