Over the past year, I have enjoyed the good fortune of being able to volunteer my help on my schools DofE expeditions. The walking is always tough for the candidates, but the usual highlight is the overnight camping, which is good fun for all. This year's expedition however, was very different to all the other for one simple reason, Covid-19. This was because we were not allowed to camp overnight in tents, turning a weekend expedition into a day walk, but also three days of training into one. The condensed training day actually went surprisingly well, with groups rotating between different stations where they would learn about map reading, compasses, road safety and all other essential DofE skills. I was assigned to compass work, and besides from one group who couldn’t walk in a straight line for 100 metres when learning about pacing’s, it mostly went without a hitch, and all groups produced at least one person who had some idea of which way on the map was north. Or so we thought.

The day of the expedition came and we got up bright and early, meeting at the Sportsman pub in Mogador, Surrey. It was a cold day but we were all (mostly) well prepared and in high spirits. Me and the group I was attached to set off and, after a few explanations of the concept, “read the map before you make a decision” we more or less made it to the destination, a small windmill set amongst some trees, in a reasonable amount of time. After only a few more minor mistakes on the way back, which could all have been avoided by applying the concept above, we made it back in one piece. Other groups I understand to have taken slightly longer but that’s all part of the learning process. It was slightly strange completing an expedition without an overnight camp, but we had to play the cards we were dealt, and I think that we did a pretty good job of it. The candidates all passed and, in my opinion, learnt a lot of useful information on maps, compasses, and on simply being outdoors for the day.

My thanks go out to all the staff at Ewell Castle School who made this event happen