On Friday 21st June, Smestow Academy embarked on their first Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Expedition as a Matrix Academy School. 27 Year 10 & Year 11 students left school at 10 o clock to travel to Cannock Chase where they were to be pushed out of their comfort zone and achieve something outstanding.

The weather did not disappoint with soaring temperatures making it even more demanding for the students on their 11 mile walk through the chase on Friday. Mr Webb, Miss Cox and Mr Heywood were on hand at each checkpoint to aid the students with water and snacks to keep their motivation and energy levels high. The students were split into their 4 teams on Friday morning which they stayed with for the walk that day and on the Saturday morning, they showed fantastic teamwork and resilience to get through each stage of the walk using their map and navigation skills. The whole group met for lunch halfway through the walk where everyone re-energised and there was lots of motivational speeches by individuals to keep their group motivated and willing to complete the second half of the walk with the finish (campsite) in sight. Special mention to Nathan YR11 here who was put with a group of YR10s but received massive applause and gratitude from them as he led his group round the walk and kept spirits high in his group when it got tough. They were first back on the Saturday which they were very pleased with as I know all students were treating this like a competition even though that wasn’t the main aim of the expedition.

After lunch, the students carried on their pursuit towards campsite where everyone arrived at around 19:00 and it was camp erecting time. With the training that has been complete at school prior to the expedition, the students completed this with great speed and teamwork … probably because they were so hungry and they knew that was the next bit.

The cooking started and there was an array of pasta, rice and noodles being cooked up by the whole group but a big shoutout has to go to Riley YR11 who brought 30 chicken marinated chicken breasts with him to feed the whole group and then also started frying some dough to make flatbread. An absolute fantastic effort from Riley who got a big congratulations from our colleague at BarrBeacon who said that was the best meal she had saw across her 10 years of DofE.

Cooking was complete and it was then time for the students to wash up their cutlery and dishes to have more of a chilled night at campsite before toasting some marshmallows on the campfire whilst sharing some highlights of the day – the views of Cannock chase, Ruby falling in the stream on the walk or groups having to double back on themselves throughout the navigation.

With the night drawing in and students exhausted from the exertion and heat of the day it was time to call it a night where the some students were about to experience their first outdoor sleeping night. This meant that many did not lie in like they would at home and were awake at the crack of dawn getting themselves sorted and tents down. This was all complete at 7:30am and it was over to Riley again to improve the mood in the camp by making everyone a hot chocolate to kick start their day.

8:30 came and it was time for the second walk of the expedition and the final straight to completing the Bronze expedition. The students were not walking as far Saturday morning and with the thought of an ice cream at go ape as the end goal, motivation was high and the students did excellently well.

Through learning from their mistakes on the Friday, the students were able to read the map and navigate themselves through the route even better on the Saturday with all teams completing their walk in under 5 hours which was a fantastic achievement. The students passed through a number of checkpoints again disembarking back through Cannock chase where lots of the public were walking or cycling and a special congratulations came from a member of public to Mr Webb who stated that our students were very polite when they came across them on the chase, and we should be very proud.

The students were brilliant for the whole of the weekend and definitely deserved their ice creams at the end. A fantastic achievement by all completing the Bronze DofE Expedition and something that will look fantastic on their CVs for future endeavours. We hope to see these students going on to complete their silver and gold awards.

Contact Info

Smestow Academy
Windmill Crescent
Castlecroft, Wolverhampton
West Midlands

T: 01902539500

Monday - Thursday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am - 3:30 pm

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