We know that schools often find it difficult to get staff to help out with the Duke of Edinburgh Award but we have had some amazing help over the past couple of years. Credit where credit is due, they have all been females willing to get involved and get outdoors to show students how to get the most out of it. We are so lucky on this front and to promote the #thisgirlcan campaign we got our newest D of E star to give her views on her first experience working with us…
Nina: I’m 20 years old and I’m currently completing a sports apprenticeship because as many young people these days I’m not sure what I want to be, but I do know that I love to be active and in the great outdoors. I want to gain as much experience in different areas as I possibly can and now Mick Fenwick and Michael Stones through school have given me that opportunity to get out there and get involved.
In March 2015 I helped supervise a Silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition training programme in the Borrowdale area of the Lake District. It gave the opportunity to hike up High Spy, with the students, and view some magnificent sights as well as putting my fitness to the test. I bonded well with the students and saw great levels of teamwork amongst them and also between the members of staff, as we all accomplished something to be proud of that day. I witnessed first-hand the delivery of the training provided by experienced group leaders for High Tunstall’s Duke of Edinburgh Programme which was brilliant because I was learning new things too.
Despite never having done anything like this before, I felt the leaders supported me, took me under their wing and I was able to learn the ropes pretty quickly. On the first day I got many opportunities to participate in group activities, doing things such as micro-navigation, accurately establishing one’s position and planning and following a route on the map to a certain feature. My map reading skills improved sizably. We went out in the dark and did some night navigation, which was highly useful to recognise what other tools/ senses you can use to navigate your way around in the night time. At every opportunity I was given tasks that enabled me to take more of a leadership role to further develop my confidence and the confidence of the students in me. On the second day I supported some remote supervision, going out to checkpoints in the hills to make sure the students were on track. This was also a worthwhile experience as this is what we are more likely to be undertaking during the D of E expedition season as the school has over 60 students involved in their Bronze and Silver programmes. It was interesting to see the practicalities of what I will be involved in later this year as part of a team of 7 staff, lead by Mick and Michael. Later that day I directed a video diary of the students, which provided valuable insight into their individual thoughts and feelings over the course of the expedition. Additionally I learnt about the geographical history of the lakes, and its typical wildlife and plant life through students being pushed to develop more substantial aims for their Silver Expeditions. At the end of a long day we camped out, which I love to do, but we endured gale force winds, rain and freezing temperatures, so no sleep but you won’t hear any complaining from this girl!!
I am delighted I was asked to help out on this expedition; I loved getting involved in every activity I could have and completely engulfing myself into the experience and environment. I would have not enjoyed myself as much as I did if it wasn’t for the great staff, students, Mick and Michael for allowing me to learn the things I did, for that I am eternally thankful. #thisgirlcan and I’m glad this team support us in doing!