Our Duke of Edinburgh Practice Expedition

From Saturday 16th June to Sunday 17th June, Form 3 had their Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition. We had been preparing for almost half of the year and had planned our route cards as well as our meal menus and clothing. My group consisted of seven people, and I think we all had different skills that would help us for the expedition.

We set off on Saturday morning – first with the minibus, to get to our starting point. The weather was a little rainy and damp, but it wasn’t cold, proving we put on our coats. At the beginning of our route, I have to admit, we did get a little lost. However, with the help of the teacher accompanying us, we were soon back on track and got the hang of it. Making my way up the hills, I soon noticed how heavy the bag was and the effort one must put into moving only a few centimeters on the map (it’s a lot longer in reality!). The views were very beautiful though and we saw many types of plants and insects. I was impressed at how wonderfully my group cooperated and at how enthusiastic we were.

At lunch, I had a packed lunch, like everybody else. We had travelled about half way through our journey for the day, when our road started to get very tough; there was almost nothing but an uphill trek for quite a while. Nonetheless, we encouraged each other and worked as a team (working out where we were, and not getting lost). We reached the conclusion that, “Slow and steady wins the race” and stuck to it for the rest of our walk. Understandably from our ethos, we reached the campsite last. On the other hand, I think that it was worth it… We saw beautiful views of the Lawley and pushed ourselves.

When we got to the campsite, we set up our tents, unpacked food and cooked dinner: soup, followed by rice, vegetables, tomatoes and spam. Next, we packed up and changed into our pyjamas. Of course, we brought many snacks and ate them whilst telling horror stories. I think this was a fun activity for us all, since it was like a sleepover within nature. We slept very well and were quite comfortable. The only thing that bothered us during the night was a sheep, which, bumped into our tent several times!

The next morning we made breakfast: eggy bread, scrambled eggs, fried eggs (since we all value our breakfast, we brought eggs all the way from school), and pancakes and Nutella. Starting our second day journey, the weather was the same as the previous day. This time though, our journey was much more relaxed and flat, since the ground could not possibly go any higher (we were on top of the Lawley). We were surrounded by very rich fauna: wild ponies, sheep, and many different types of birds. Unfortunately, as we started to go downhill, I started to feel a sharp pain above my ankle, along the bone. As I couldn’t go any further, the rest of my team members were very kind and, in typical Concord fashion, even offered to carry my bag. However, I thought that it was better to call the teachers, and carrying two bags was too much for the back of a growing person. Help arrived within 10 minutes, and the others then continued. The teachers were exceptionally helpful and I put an ice pack on my ankle too… I have come to the conclusion that it was probably because I am going through a growing phase as well as playing a sport that uses my right leg significantly more than my left (fencing). From what I hear from the rest of my team, they had a really fun time and had a great rest of the journey.

I look forward to taking part in our official Duke of Edinburgh expedition next year.

Ecaterina – F3

Form 3 Bala Trip

On this trip, I shared a dorm with 11 other people. This wasn’t the first time I’ve shared a dormitory, however it was a first for me sharing a dorm with people that aren’t all very close to me. It was a new experience and we learnt more about each other.

Our group did water activities on the first day. We started with kayaking and we tried to change kayaks whilst on the water. Although it was very challenging, everyone tried hard and had fun.

After that, we did paddle boarding. It isn’t actually as hard as what I had expected, but it is certainly amusing. We had two groups competing against each other – we pushed each other and even pushed the instructors into the water too.

The last activity of the day was gorge walking. The rocks were very slippery! Fortunately however, we got to choose our own route and there were lots of great views.

Over the course of the visit, we had different duties and responsibilities. Every day, we would make and pack sandwiches for lunch. Moreover, we tested our time management skills – as we had to be on time for all activities and be organised and prepared with equipment. We had ‘duty teams’ too, for instance certain teams had to help clear up at designated times.

In our team, everyone was actively involved with the activities and other responsibilities. Each member was willing to help, challenge themselves and respected one another. It was good working with different individuals for different challenges.

I liked the mining activity most during our time away. As our group was very encouraging, we cheered each other on and helped spot where to go together. Excitingly, we told ghost stories in the old mines and turned our headlights off. There was a lot of climbing to do, and also a part where we needed to take the canoe. At this point, Kachi’s action amazed everyone; he volunteered to push the canoe so everyone else in the group could move forward.

The last part of the mining expedition was memorable too. We went through deep, freezing water trying to find our way out… We doubted our route and navigation skills many times – especially when the water kept getting higher and higher. The water even reached my neck at its highest point. However, we eventually found our way out. The moment of reaching the exit was a very joyful one, and the warm sun shining on us made us feel both delighted and refreshed!

Perhaps the part of the trip that I had most difficulty with was dealing with spiders. I am really afraid of spiders and there were a lot of them in the mines. Despite that, mining was still the best activity I took part in at Bala.

Maggie – F3 

Form 4 Trip to Hollowford

F4s who were at Concord in F3 will have remembered the trip to Bala, but the new F4s might have been nervous of what was in store for this outdoor education trip. Like the Bala trip, it was more of the same; the activities, the laughs, the smiles….

On Friday 27th April, around 90 students and staff set off to Hollowford Centre for a fun-filled weekend. Once we arrived we were thrown into the deep end straightaway, with different groups doing different activities, meaning everyone was busy from the off. My group did abseiling first and although it looked quite daunting, we soon realised that the worst part of it wasn’t actually climbing down, but thinking about climbing down!

We arrived back already slightly tired from our first challenge, but we were treated well with a tasty warm meal which filled us up. The groups finished off with one last activity for the day (for my group it was rowing) and then arrived back with some free time to spare. On the first night many students were really tired and slept right after the 10:30pm room check, but it was just the start of a very eventful weekend.

On Saturday, again, the groups participated in different activities – 3 to be precise. At the start, the thought of all these challenging activities dawned, but once we got into the activities they went by quickly and it was all much enjoyed. Even hill walking was quite fun and the scenery caught the eye. With more free time on our hands, quite competitive games of ping-pong took place during the lunch and supper breaks. On Saturday evening, students were told to prepare their luggage and tidy their rooms as tomorrow would be their last day; however we still had two more activities to go.

On Sunday, students were taken out by their instructors for their last activities, with my group taking part in caving and raft building (with the added bonus of zip lining). These activities were probably the most fun activities we took part in, and it’s fair to say that the Hollowford trip finished on a high.

Finally, students packed and cleared out their rooms, tidied their beds and changed into dry clothes before setting off back to Concord. Thanks were said to our teachers, and goodbyes to the amazing and welcoming staff and instructors at Hollowford, who treated us as family.

The trip was a chance for some to overcome many of their fears and for others to try things they hadn’t done before… I think I speak for most when I say that this trip was thoroughly enjoyed.

Toluwafe Eyifewa (tf) – F4