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22 September 2015
“I have to admit to considerable envy but also excitement …” a Headmaster comments on Wilderness Expertise teams, as they set out on their personal development expeditions earlier this summer:
“For many students, the end of term didn’t mean the start of family holidays or of a couple of months of relaxation but rather the starting pistol for a range of trips and excursions. These included language trips, a camp for the Combined Cadet Force, a team completing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver Award in Wales and three teams departing for even more exotic destinations, with one team heading for Nicaragua and another two for the Silk Route (Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) under the auspices of Wilderness Expertise. The Wilderness Expertise teams will be away for an action-packed month. They will all spend some time working with local communities on projects that have been carefully selected to benefit these communities and to enable our students to play a positive part in their ongoing development. The students will also have a substantial trekking phase, which they planned prior to departure but they will have to organise guides, porters and provisions in country. They have also planned some activities for rest and recreation at the end of their expeditions, which will involve cultural experiences and sight-seeing – as well as some time on the beach for the Nicaragua team…
I undertook two similar expeditions as a teacher earlier in my career – to Ecuador and Pakistan – and can testify to the powerful effect that they have upon participants. In Ecuador, we had to cope with the effects of rapidly changing weather, which rendered a carefully planned trek a mudbath of epic proportions. Our trek in the Karakorum mountains in Pakistan was physically and mentally challenging but took us through some of the most extraordinary and beautiful landscapes one could ever imagine. (How sad it is that security concerns would render a similar visit to Pakistan impossible today.) In both cases, the pupils returned more confident in their abilities, more resourceful, more self-reliant and with a far deeper understanding of the cultures of the countries that they had visited. They also had developed a strong team ethos and powerful friendships with the other students with whom they had spent a month in close proximity.
I’m now reduced to waiting back in the UK while our pupils and staff experience life in Nicaragua and on the Silk Route to the full. I have to admit to considerable envy but also excitement about hearing the stories that they will bring back with them, in the knowledge that they will come back enriched and empowered by their experiences away.”
(With thanks to Michael Windsor, Headmaster of Reading Blue Coat School, for kind permission to reproduce his Headmaster’s Blog.)