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DoE 2009

DoE 2009 Report

June/ July 2009 saw our largest and highest quality Duke of Edinburgh expeditions to date. With over 50 boys registered and over 40 completing the expeditions, the logistics were complex. We ran two training expeditions simultaneously in the Lake District and Snowdonia, and then reversed this for the assessed expedition a few days later. One was overseen by EJNR, the other by NPTL.
Each expedition was staffed by some Eton staff as well as some external mountaineering instructors. This enabled all boys to receive professional training in navigation, route finding, expedition skills, wild camping, cooking, emergency procedures, weather, nutrition, the ‘layering’ system, hygiene, and environmental impact. Although in different locations, the itinerary was essentially the same.
For the training, there were two, one day expeditions to focus on the skills, followed by a two day self-contained expedition in which the boys were shadowed and received further instruction where required. The assessed expedition started with one more training day, and then a three day self-contained expedition. This culminates in a celebratory barbeque when the boys give their presentations on their chosen topics.
The weather was mixed, but mainly kind. During the training expeditions, in both locations, there was some heavy rain coupled with strong winds and poor visibility – ideal conditions for learning to navigate. All boys learnt how to walk on a bearing, interpret contours, and timing and pacing. For the assessment, unusually, the strength of the sun was the main hazard – one boy getting heat blisters! The assessed expedition saw the best continuous weather I have experienced on DoE.
All boys will have walked some of the most impressive and serious mountainous terrain in England and Wales – covering both a considerable distance and some technical ground. Most of the boys (depending upon route) will have climbed both Scafell Pike and Snowdon, have traversed the full Helvellyn ridge, walked over High Raise, Bow Fell and Coniston Old Man, as well as the full Carneddau ridge, the Glyders ridge and Moel Siabod.  Those who are familiar with these areas will be aware that this is a major achievement for a group of 16 year old boys with full packs. Many commented that this was the hardest thing they have ever done, both physically and mentally. Most impressive was the level of teamwork – helping to carry each other’s kit when blisters became unbearable, sharing the cooking and so on. Although these expeditions are considerably in excess of silver DoE, all participants will receive their silver award. Well done to all concerned!
Thanks should be extended to the Eton staff who helped: NPTL, PKM, JM, RNE, SGPT, JWFS, PDAM.

DATE POSTED: 07 July 2009

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