Monday, September 18th, 2017.

Excelsior’s explorers tackling the Lake District hills 

Navigating the rolling hills and deep valleys of the Lake District was the challenge for Excelsior College explorers on a dry run preparing for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver Award.

A 30-mile trek from St John’s in the Vale through to Applethwaite in the Lake District tested the resilience, leadership and teamwork of the nine students over three days.

Ian Stonehouse, Progress Tutor and Excelsior Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Manager, led the students who seized the opportunity to refine their outdoor skills, such as map reading, in time for their silver awards qualifying expedition at the end of this month.

Exclesior Academy has around 40 students in training for Duke of Edinburgh’s bronze, silver and gold awards.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards are the world’s leading youth achievement award. For the past seven decades, they have inspired and transformed the lives of millions of young people from all walks of life.

It provides volunteering and physical activities, life skills and expeditions – and achieving a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a passport to a brighter future, highly valued by employers and universities alike.

The Excelsior students in training for their silver award, who camped out each night after a gruelling Lake District trek, are: Rene Kotlar, James Stephenson, Farhad Ali, Lee Ashley, John Morris, Mark Kinyanjui, Andrea Arcana, Virginia Correia and Mohammad Nazary. Progress Tutor Anna Wallbanks helped lead the expedition.

“Our students get a real sense of achievement , getting to go somewhere they have never been before, going out in the country to learn skills they have never tried before,” said Ian.

“It’s great for us to see people who may not be natural leaders becoming leaders, they gain communication skills and begin to act as one by helping each other pitch tents or carry heavy ruck sacks.

“Their confidence grows as they question others and work together to take bearings of their current position against where they want to be.

“This group was outstanding. They were amazing, possibly the best group we have ever had with regards to organisation and navigation.

“They are in with a great chance of getting their silver awards. They had to traverse through old river beds, up steep hills and along an old Roman road which really tested them and brought out new skills and self-confidence.”