Last week, 46 of Harrow Shenzhen’s Year 9 and 10 students made the week-long adventurous camping trip to Huizhou, as part of their Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Bronze Level challenges.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award grew out of the efforts of three men: Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh; Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist and Lord Hunt, leader of the first team to successfully reach the summit of Mount Everest. The Award was first launched in The United Kingdom in 1956 to motivate young people between the ages of 14 and 24 to become involved in a balanced programme of voluntary self-development activities.
Harrow Shenzhen is delighted to have been certified to deliver the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (DofE) since 2021.
There are three levels of Award: Bronze, Silver and Gold, whilst the basic structure of the Award consists of the four mandatory sections: Voluntary Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey.
Before the Adventurous Journey, participants were given 3 days of pre-journey training on campus, through which students learnt about setting journey goals and plans, preparing outdoor gear and food, wilderness first aid practice, map reading and navigation, setting up tents, cooking with a stove and leaving no trace.
The 5-day Adventurous Journey was around the Luofu Mountain in Huizhou, Guangdong. After they completed the pre-journey training, the 46 students were organised into 7 groups. Each group needed to complete the entire journey independently. Instructors and teachers supervised and evaluated and only intervened when necessary.
Into the wild forest with no internet connections, every team only had a map and a compass for navigating, and a mobile phone for timing and distance measurements. Difficulties to find the right way out, mosquito bites and rainfall made the 8-kilometre practice journey quite discouraging for many teams.
SPORTS & LIFE
However, the challenge also encouraged the teams to take the qualifying journey more seriously. After a short break, the teams met up for a debriefing session to reflect on the practice and to come up with a better plan for the 14-kilometre qualifying camping journey on the following day.
Good teamwork is essential for a successful qualifying journey – a leader to make decisions, navigate and oversee the whole team; an assistant leader to support and remind the others; a member to take care of the first-aid kit; one to collect litter from the team so that the whole journey leaves no trace on the way; one to take photos and record for the journey and one to keep track of the distance and time. In addition, the teams also need to manage a good balance regarding the roles and responsibilities for carrying camping supplies, cooking and cleaning.
The journey started with hot weather and heavy rain. Soon everybody got soaked with rain and sweat. Whether it was working as a team or the heavy backpack and extreme humidity, the qualifying journey was a challenge for all – everyone was stretched and out of their comfort zones. Some students broke down on the way, a team took the wrong route and arrived at the camping site two hours later than the expected arrival time. Nonetheless, all teams made it to the end.
‘Let’s talk about this at our debriefing session this evening – we must keep our morale high as a team’ – whilst many members got weary and frustrated, Stephanie, assistant leader of one of the teams, demonstrated great leadership.
No matter how much suffering and struggle everyone had, whether it was thunderstorms or severe heat, those 46 Year 9 and Year 10 Harrovians finished the 14-kilometer 2-day qualifying hiking expedition! Harrow Core Values of Courage, Humility and Fellowship have been demonstrated through the challenges of the journey. The joy after all the hardships was enormous. The determination to face challenges, to solve problems collaboratively and creatively, to leave no trace even though their backpacks were putting a lot of weight on their shoulders, echoed the Core Value of Honour as well. This also resonates with the intentions and goals of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award!