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St Clement's High School

Bushcraft challenge for WNAT students

Adventurous students from our school joined others from across the West Norfolk Academies Trust’s four high schools to take part in a three-day, two-night bushcraft challenge in Thetford Forest.

Organised by Explore 4 More in association with the Trust, the survival skills course was open to Year 8 students from Marshland, St Clement’s, Smithdon, and Springwood.

“One of the main aims was to provide an insight into the skills required for participating in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme,” said Tamara Churchyard, who is Duke of Edinburgh Manager and Coordinator at Springwood and accompanied the school’s group. “Students will be offered the opportunity to enrol for Bronze in Year 9, and subsequently Silver in Year 10 and Gold in Year 12.”

“As a joint enterprise with high schools across the West Norfolk Academies Trust, 37 Year 8 students were invited to participate in a bushcraft experience in Thetford Forest,” she continued.

“Students spent three days and two nights working on team-building activities with a difference, under the instruction of Explore 4 More coaches.”

Besides Mrs Churchyard, other Duke of Edinburgh Managers and Coordinators supporting the students included David Lucas from Marshland, Matthew Reynolds from St Clement’s, and Alysha Holder-Moat from Smithdon, while overall Duke of Edinburgh Manager Pauline Petch oversaw the event, in association with Explore 4 More’s instructors, many of whom are serving or former military personnel.

Divided into three cross-school teams, our students learnt a wide range of skills, from purifying water and starting fires to building shelters. They also competed against each other in activities which included rope walking, balancing nails, and ‘welly wanging’.

“There were two parts to the problem-solving tasks,” said the Diamonds Team, which consisted of Willow, Wiktor, Finley, Julia, Archie, Xavier, Amelia, Pipper, Eva, Charles and Brayden. “The first one was trying to get a person to walk around the team balancing on a rope; the second was to balance six nails on one hammered into a wooden block – the nails were not allowed to touch the block!

“For welly wanging, you had to throw a pair of wellies as far as you can. The team leaders had to choose six people to go against each other. The top three competed against the other teams for double points.”

“We learnt how to purify water, start a fire and make a shelter,” said the Spades Team of Shai, Amber, Amelia, Ben, Toby, Jacob, Morgan, Elsie, Ray, Marcus, Eden, Tommy and Lya. “We were rated the best team at fire-lighting.”

The winning team, by just two points, was Hearts, whose members comprised Lauren, Evie, Gracie, Jake, Olivia, Imogen, Mike, Soya, Oliver, Charleigh, Kiprus, Poppy and Bean.

“During our time at Thetford we, as a community, have enjoyed activities such as water transportation,” they said. “It was fun to work together as teams whilst learning techniques on the way.”

"This is the third time we have organised the event, increasing from one overnight stay to two due to popularity,” added Mrs Churchyard.

“Students benefited from staying in a communal environment  and learning ways of surviving in the countryside.”