The new D of E Gold season has started in earnest, with 28 students signing up for the Award. Of that number, 18 are direct entry candidates and were therefore required to attend the first of the three Gold Award Expedition events we organise through the year. This was the Gold Training Camp, based at Pen-y-pass Youth Hostel at the foot of Mt Snowdon.
The participants started with some 'admin time’ at school, where they were issued with equipment, looked at health and nutrition on expeditions and went to purchase expedition food from a local supermarket. Following a two-hour drive to North Wales, the training continued with first aid training in the hostel with one of our freelance Instructors, Dave Prendergast.
On day two, the team separated into two groups, a walking group and a sea-kayaking group. Each day started with a weather presentation from a student and was then filled with specific theory and practical training.
Sadly on the third day of the trip, the tail end of hurricane Gonzales swept across North Wales, exposing both teams to storm force winds! With the practical element of training wiped out, the team instructors had to do some quick thinking to come up with appropriate ways to fill the time. The walkers visited a local café with internet access and spent the day working on route-planning skills. The sea kayakers however, were particularly lucky and managed to squeeze in a visit to the Coast Guard station at Holyhead where the weather gauge was reading Force 10 on the scale! They then enjoyed an exploration of the off-shore lifeboat and a visit to a kayak factory. The day finished with a visit to the South Stack lighthouse to see first-hand what the strong winds did to the sea... The sight was amazing!
The remaining two days of the adapted programme continued without a hitch. Both groups squeezed in some very useful and interesting training in the hills and on the coast, and the extreme weather meant plenty of 'thinking on our feet' and 'team work', two attributes required for a successful D of E Gold Expedition.
We all look forward to the next batch of training later on in the Lent term.
Maj. Jo Billington