Taking on the trip of a lifetime were a team from Hall Cross Academy in Doncaster when they travelled to Norway to complete their Duke of Edinburgh Gold award.
Seveteen students and six members of staff made the journey after months of fundraising events, meetings, fitness tests and practice expeditions.
Participant Holly Dent explained: “World Challenge is an organisation that aids young people in completing ‘expeditions’ in different countries, such as Norway. Their philosophy is that challengers must fundraise as much money as possible to pay for their journey, so in order to do this we combined team events and personal fundraising.
“Our fundraising involved a ‘Cycle to Norway’ event in the Frenchgate Centre, as well as open evenings and parents’ evenings at our school. Students also went bag packing at local supermarkets for donations, and some even undertook World Challenge events such as sponsored runs and abseils. As we were completing our Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, we had to prepare by taking part in a practice expedition which took place in Cumbria, and despite this being useful in developing our stamina and brushing up on our map reading and compass skills, however the terrain and lack of campsites in Norway was still a shock for everyone.”
The trip was over eight days and the students stayed at the TrollActiv Centre taking part in canoeing and walking challenges.
Holly added: “Through all this we learned a range of skills that sitting in a classroom could never teach you. Being in situations such as setting up camp in the pouring rain in the middle of nowhere, climbing glaciers, sliding down boggy paths, or wading through freezing rivers makes the lessons so much more relevant and memorable.
“One life lesson that was most noticeable was that of independence, and the realisation that we were all a lot more capable than we thought. Before the Duke of Edinburgh expedition I would never have thought I could put up a three-man tent in under ten minutes, cook on a trangia or trek on glaciers, but you soon learn that you are physically and mentally stronger than you assumed.
Even when it feels like you’ve reached your breaking point you can and will continue to push through because saying no is not an option.
“Friendships and bonds have been made and become unbreakable through the Duke of Edinburgh programme, not only with other challengers but also with our leaders who have now become our friends. We are so grateful for the experience and the opportunities that were given to us. Norway was a once in a lifetime opportunity that none of us will ever forget, and passing our expedition is an achievement that will aid us in reaching many goals in the future.”