Introduction to BELA

The first step towards learning to be an expedition leader.

I was up early this morning to drive to a primary school in St Helens for the first day of my BELA course. I got there early and sat sipping a coffee as the other delegates arrived. There are 21 of us in all. Most of the trainers we’ll be meeting over the next few months were there too to introduce themselves. 

BELA stands for Basic Expedition Leaders’ Award and will qualify me to lead bronze and silver expeditions for Duke of Edinburgh Award students. It’s only one step down from the walking group leaders’ qualification and so should stand me in good stead to achieve that whenever I get round to going for it.

It’s quite a time commitment as between now and November I have to attend three residential weekends. They start on the Friday evening and finish on the Sunday. I have to do another one in March for my assessment. In between finishing the third residential weekend and the assessment I have to fit in 30 hours of leading kids on walks. This concerns me a bit as it’ll be in the winter when daylight is short and the weather may be bad. Although this wouldn’t stop me from going out on a walk myself I won’t be able to take students out in the dark or in torrential storms and heavy snow drifts. I thought I’d be able to backdate these 30 hours to the spring and early summer when I spent, what seemed like, most of my weekends out with kids on practice and assessed bronze and silver expedition weekends. But, unfortunately not. I have to somehow fit it in between the end of the course’s practice weekends and the assessment weekend.

What I can backdate is my own walking experience. I have to fill in a log of walks I’ve done myself. Easy-peasy – I’ve got lots of them logged on here so I just have to flip back through my blog and copy the details over. 

Throughout the day we went over the expectations of the course and got a lot of the admin and form-filling done. Then we looked at equipment and did quite an interesting exercise in which we were given an equipment list, a total cost spent and lots of pictures of equipment from which we had to choose items to fit the cost we’d been given. It really showed how little you can spend to get the basics on a low budget and how much you can spend if you want to splash out on the best of everything and/or go for named brands. 

We looked at some actual equipment and were advised on how to tell if something is good or not and which items it’s worth spending a bit more on to get something decent (basically the things that can hurt you – boots and rucksack and also jacket because being soaking wet and cold is the equivalent of being ‘hurt’). 

All in all it was a good day and I’m feeling excited about my first residential the weekend after next. 

Duke of Edinburgh Weekends

Losing four weekends means I’m tired and behind with everything, but it was well worth it.

Last weekend was the last of my four Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition weekends. I’ve been wanting to get involved with this for years and it has been every bit as good as I was hoping it would be. Of course losing four weekends in close succession means I’m knackered and behind with everything else, but I think it was worth it. Even when it’s been chucking it down and nearly blowing me off the tops I’ve still enjoyed it. I’ve worked with a good team of people and the kids have all been great. We’ve dealt with issues and problems as they’ve arisen and I think we’ve dealt with them well. I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to do this before starting my BELA (Basic Expedition Leader’s Award) course in September as I feel really confident about it now. I think I really could enjoy doing this kind of thing full-time – I just have to think of a way of actually making a decent living out of it!

Silver weekend #1

Is it possible to have a great weekend even though a zillion things go wrong? Apparently the answer is yes, as I found out this weekend.

Is it possible to have a great weekend even though a zillion things go wrong? Apparently the answer is yes, as I found out this weekend.

Way back about a year ago, when school first mooted the idea of an enrichment programme every Friday afternoon to give our students, many of whom are from a disadvantaged background, a bit of, well, enrichment in their lives I jumped at the idea of getting involved with a Duke of Edinburgh Award group. We had over 80 students interested, as well as several members of staff. It was a logistical nightmare, but bit by bit, we got everyone registered, sorted out activities, arranged funding, got parental permission slips signed and gathered relevant medical information. I tried to organise a series of archery lessons for one group of students, but we ended up going climbing instead. They did this over 6 months and all got their level 1 and 2 NICAS awards.

School then decided that the whole idea of enrichment was way too expensive (I suppose I can see their point) and pulled it. Of course, Duke of Edinburgh is not just a one term only activity and some of these kids had made a serious commitment to see it through. They were getting a lot out of it and were devastated at the thought of not being able to continue. The lightweights dropped out and we were left with a (hard) core of 40+ students who really wanted to carry on.

Enrichment was pulled at the February half term which is halfway through the school year. During the first half of the year we’d concentrated on activities which would count towards the skill, physical and volunteering sections of the award. We’d planned from February onwards to run a series of first aid courses, and then focus on expedition skills e.g. navigation, camping skills, route planning, and so on. We also planned to get some Friday afternoon walks in to give them some actual walking experience. A couple of Saturday or Sunday walks out in the Peaks wouldn’t have gone a amiss either. As we no longer had Friday afternoons for enrichment, staff and students were all assigned other lessons. This meant anything to do with the Duke of Edinburgh had to take place after school during the week. This is usually how it would be run anyway, but as we hadn’t planned it this way, it threw everything into disarray and we didn’t get half of what we wanted to do done.

We split our students up into 2 rather uneven groups. The silver students are the older ones who had completed their bronze awards over the last year or two and had wanted to continue. There are only 8 of them. The other 30 odd of them are bronze award candidates who signed up when they had to choose an enrichment activity last year. We also have a few younger students (you have to be 14 or about to turn 14 to do the Duke of Edinburgh) who wanted to get involved. We thought it would be great for them to have a taster so they’d know what to expect when they’re a bit older and come to do the real thing, and so created a special school award that runs along the same lines but is a little easier.

This weekend was the first of our expedition weekends. We decided to take the silver group out first as we have to fit the practice and assessed weekends around their GCSEs. Also as it was our first expedition, having a smaller group of experienced students made a lot of sense.

So what are all the things that went wrong? Apart from us not being nearly prepared enough in the first place?

1) It snowed when we were supposed to recce the route and we weren’t able to rearrange it, so we were heading out on un-recced routes. Not ideal, but we didn’t anticipate any major problems.

2) We found out that we needed a BELA person at all times (BELA stands for basic expedition leader’s award) and not many staff have this particular qualification. I’m starting the course for it in September and my colleague, who has done most of the work for this expedition, won’t be doing her course until next month. So we had to go all out with our powers of persuasion, to powerfully persuade enough relevant people to ‘volunteer’ so we’d be covered all weekend. Job done. We had the people.

3) Two days before the expedition one of our BELA people dropped out. We flung a panic-stricken net far and wide to try to recruit anybody, ANYBODY, who could replace the missing person. Friends of friends of friends, passing acquaintances, anyone we thought might just happen to have a BELA qualification. No luck. Being bank holiday weekend, most outdoorsy, BELAy type people already had plans to be outdoors.

4) Two days before the expedition, but a bit later, another one of our BELA people was in hospital having surgery. We really didn’t want to cancel the expedition as, it being the GCSE season, we wouldn’t be able to rearrange it and our students would completely miss out. Cue massive hair-pulling, hand-wringing, head banging against wall session.

5) One day before the expedition our one remaining BELA person changed her time with us to cover both Friday and Saturday, and the hospitalised member said he’d be out and fit enough to cover Sunday. Big PHEWs all round.

6) On the day of the expedition, both my colleague and I were given covers to do during our free lessons. We were hoping to get away straight after period 3 at the start of lunch. As we’d lost our frees all the last minute getting together of gear and paperwork, getting ourselves changed, loading the minibus and Landrover, etc, just didn’t happen. So we ended up an hour late leaving.

7) Just before we left, my colleague thought she’d better double-check we really were insured to drive the Landrover which had been lent to us by the local authority Duke of Edinburgh people. Er, no. We’re not. As our school is an Academy, we are no longer covered by anything to do with the local authority. We couldn’t put all the luggage in the minibus with the students as there are safety requirements we have to abide by like not blocking the aisle or burying the students under mounds of backpacks. Isn’t it lucky I bought a van last year? So we transferred all the bags from the Landrover into my van.

8) I then had to go and get fuel which made me later at the rendezvous point than the minibus and so they’d all had to sit around waiting for me.

9) It was getting so late by this time that we decided to start the day’s walk 2 hours in and so drove to a layby where we could park my van and myself, my BELA colleague and the students started walking. The other two staff members took the minibus to the campsite.

10) Once we arrived at the campsite I had to get a lift back to my van to collect it. We were going to pick up a takeaway on the way back (for the staff; the students have to be self-sufficient and carry and cook all their own food). It took us quite a long time to get back to the van and we were finally on the way to Bakewell to get our takeaway when we got a tired and despondent phone call from our students. Their tents were up, they were unpacked, they were tired and hungry and ready to cook. But the meths for their camp stoves was on my van (as a safety precaution the fuel is the one thing we carry for them and just give them the amount they need when they are cooking). So we had to turn around and head back to the campsite so they could have a very late, but well-earned dinner.

11) The next day, started off rainy, but by the time we set off walking it had brightened up. I didn’t start the walk as we decided to take my van to the next campsite and leave it there and get us checked in at the same time. This would mean the students could go straight to our allocated sites and pitch their tents when they arrived rather than hanging about waiting for us to get them checked in. As we arrived there was a big notice at the front of the campsite saying no arrivals before 1pm. Then another notice saying ‘do not enter this campsite before the 1pm check-in’. So we entered and went to check in. We left the minibus part-way up the track and I drove down to the reception area to park up and deal with checking in and paying. The young guy behind reception was quite happy to get us checked in and for me to leave my van, despite the 1pm rule.

12) So far, so good. He opened his bookings book, checked his computer and … no sign of our booking. Thank goodness we’d come early. He was able to create a new booking for us and showed us where we could pitch our tents later on when we all officially arrived.

13) My colleague drove me out on the minibus to meet up with the walkers so I could walk with them for the rest of the day. For the final part of the walk we decided to let them walk on their own as this is what they will have to do the entire time on their assessed expedition. We drove round to a point where we knew they would have to cross the road and waited to see them. We waited and then waited a bit longer. It really shouldn’t take them this long. We finally spotted them walking along the road. They’d missed the turnoff for the footpath and so walked the long way round by the road. Minus a few points for missing the footpath, but full points for figuring out exactly where they were and working out an alternative route to get them where they needed to be.

14) That evening I came to put my stove on for only the second time ever. It’s a super-trendy stove bought for me as a present last year by my brother. As it was the end of the camping season when I got it, apart from checking it was working okay, this trip is the first time it’s been used. When I boiled water in the morning it was fine. It has an ignition switch that just needs pressing when the gas is on and it ignites automatically. No need for matches or a lighter. Great idea. I came to put it on in the evening and the ignition wouldn’t work. It just wouldn’t press in at all. Closer inspection showed the plastic switch had melted. So it was back to using a lighter. I’m not at all impressed as it was quite an expensive stove. I can feel a strongly worded email coming on. The area near the switch does get quite hot which is probably the problem. My brother has used one of these stoves for a long time and never had a problem with the ignition so this is probably just a faulty one. Hopefully Primus will do the decent thing and replace it for me.

15) Our students came to put their stoves on to cook their evening meal and asked for the meths. The meths had gone home with the teacher who’d been picked up by her husband an hour of two earlier. We broke the rules (it’s only a practice after all) and once the replacement teacher arrived, took them all into Bakewell so they could go to the chip shop.

16) By Sunday, our third day, the students were suffering. The lack of training was having an effect. We cut the route and part way through let them leave their backpacks in the minibus so they could finish it. This is something we won’t be able to do on the assessed expedition, so is a bit of a worry.

17) We climbed up to Monsal Head and met the minibus. The last part of the walk was along the Monsal Trail into Bakewell. We decided I’d get taken back to the campsite in the minibus to pick up my van and we’d meet the students at one of the disused train stations along the route to check they were still ok to finish the walk. They were fine and seemed a lot more cheerful now they were near the end. I came to reverse my van out of its parking space so I could drive to Bakewell, but nothing happened. After an awful lot of trying I finally got it to reverse. I then had a bit of a hair-raising drive into Bakewell in which, for some of the time, I was driving in neutral down a hill because I couldn’t get it to go into any gear. I followed the minibus into the car park in Bakewell and my gears went completely on me.

18) I had all the students’ backpacks and other miscellaneous camping gear in my van and so we really needed to get it back to school. Especially as it’s a bank holiday and so it will be Tuesday before I see them again and if my van is in the garage being fixed it could be even later than that before I can get their stuff to them. I called Greenflag and they said someone should be with me within the hour. We needed to get the students back so we unloaded the van and they took everything they thought they’d need into the minibus with them. It was probably too much to be strictly legal but not as piled high as it could have been.

19) The Greenflag man arrived at the car park well within the hour but then took about another half hour to get to me. It’s a massive car park and was chocca with stationery vehicles (and I don’t mean the parked ones) trying to get out. Bakewell is busy at the best of times, so on a bank holiday and with a funfair just up the road it was a nightmare.

20) The Greenflag man was very nice and soon figured out the problem. He wasn’t able to do a proper repair as it needs a part, but he said he would try to do a ‘bodge job’ (his words) so I could get home safely. If he had to tow me it would have cost around 100 quid. Cable ties came to the rescue and he spent over an hour securely tying numerous of them onto my dodgy gear linkage to hold it in place so I could drive again. As I drove home the gears actually felt better than they had done before, so thank you very, very much Warren for your bodge job. He’s also told me the part should only cost about £15 and take about an hour’s labour to fix. As I had visions of £100 towing fee plus a new gear box, you can imagine how relieved I was to hear this.

21) Once home, a lot later than expected, I had to empty the van into my house. I can’t leave anything in it overnight as one of the problems of living in a dodgy area is car thieves will break into a car if there’s a much as an old carrier bag left in it. My living room now contains, amongst other things, enough tents to start my own branch of Go Outdoors, several packets of teabags, some random socks and two guitars.

So was it a successful weekend? I think so, as despite all the obstacles and problems we overcame them and still managed to enjoy ourselves and fit in plenty of laughter. I’m looking forward to the next three expedition weekends and to doing my BELA. Once I’ve done that, I’ll feel a lot more confident to start working towards my actual walking group leader’s qualification.

Snow Stops Recce

I like snow, just not when it stops me doing important things.

This weekend I should have been camping and recceing the walks we’ll do in May and June with our Duke of Edinburgh students. After hearing reports of possible bad weather earlier in the week we decided to just go out on Sunday instead. But now with snow causing road closures we’ve called our Sunday only recce off as well.

Just over a week ago I did an afternoon course for expedition leaders which went over all the basics. Some of it was obvious, but I did get a few new things to think about and met some interesting people, so it was worth it. Obviously in just an afternoon I wasn’t going to become an expert leader but it has strengthened my confidence in that my prior knowledge and experience should stand me in good stead.

So I was all enthused and ready to get out and start doing practical stuff. A colleague and I had pored over maps and worked out a route, my colleague (who’s far more proactive and practical than me) has booked the campsites for the practice and the assessed expeditions. Because we have such a large group and because we have both silver and bronze students, we’re going to have to divide them into two separate groups and go out different weekends with them. As the silver walk 3 days and the bronze walk two days we’ve worked out 3 day routes of which the bronze students will walk 2 days worth. The assessed route has to be different to the practice route so even with the bronze students walking part of the silver routes that’s still 6 days walking in total that needs to be recced.

Now that we haven’t got out this weekend and I’ll be away for the next 3 weekends over the Easter holidays I really don’t know how we’re going to fit this in before we start taking students out in May. I can see me having no free time between the end of Easter right up until the summer, but at least I’ll be doing something I enjoy and getting back out into the Peaks.

Climbing with Kids

I took the Duke of Edinburgh Award students for their first climbing lesson.

So I took 15 kids aged 11 – 14 for their first climbing session. It was meant to be archery but had to be changed at very short notice when the archery people pulled out. Lots of last minute phone calls, emails, risk assessments and begging for funding and RESULT! … we are climbing at Awesome Walls in Stockport every Friday afternoon until Christmas.

This is part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the students taking part are all new it and so just starting out on their bronze award. As you have to be fourteen (or close to it) to take part in D of E the younger kids are working towards a special school award instead. We’re hoping they’ll still get lots out of it and it will whet their appetites for the real deal when they are old enough.

We were pretty disorganised yesterday as everything was so last minute – we weren’t sure what to wear or where to get changed, whether or not there would be time to eat lunch, if we’d worked the timings out ok, and what exactly we were going to do once there. Luckily it all went well and like clockwork. We got there on time, were able to get changed and have a quick bite of our sandwiches before we started. Then there was time to finish lunch before going to get the bus back to school.

We had a short introductory talk and then a go at bouldering to warm up. Then it was on with harnesses and the first climb on a not very high wall. They all did well and so were able to spend the rest of the session tackling much higher walls. The students were divided into three groups of five, each with its own instructor. The instructor was great, explaining things, making sure the students were safe and knew what they were doing, but still giving them freedom to push themselves.

We had a couple of students who were worried about heights but still wanted to give it a go. They did brilliantly and felt like they’d really achieved something when they got up near the top of the high walls. One girl was quite shaky and feeling a little traumatised when she came down (we’d told her she only had to do what she was comfortable with, but she got up so fast I don’t think she realised how high she’d gone until it was time to get down!), but within minutes she was wanting to have another go.

On the bus on the way home they were all buzzing and saying how much they’d enjoyed it and how they think it’s much better than the archery would have been (some were quite disappointed when I first told them we would be doing climbing instead of archery). I was buzzing because they were buzzing. The teaching assistant who’d come with me had enjoyed it as well.

I didn’t think I’d be able to have a go myself as it’s costing rather a lot and I thought I would be pushing it to ask school to pay for me as well. The students were all keen to see me have a go though and so the instructor said I can try it out next week. I must remember my PE kit. (The video ‘daft teacher stuck up a wall’ that I’m sure will soon be appearing on Youtube will be even worse if it’s ‘daft teacher in business dress stuck up a wall’!)

The students will be working towards their level 1 and 2 NICAS qualifications (National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme) and will have log books for this. I thought I’d just be watching and picking up tips so that at some point I can come back and do it for myself as it is on my list of things to do. But if I can have even a bit of a go each week I’ll get a lot further than I thought I would at this time and may be ticking this challenge off in the near future.

Climbing, archery and bad internet

There’s a lot going on at the moment.

So, what have I been up to? Quite a bit actually. Let’s start with archery.

The man at the archery club where I was going to take my Duke of Edinburgh students has let me down so I’m feeling rather miffed about it. I’d told him in my initial email before the summer holidays that it would be Friday afternoons from about 12.30. After several emails in which he’s sounded as though it might happen at the last moment he told me they can only do courses on Tuesday evenings. Arrgh.

 

After some frantic hunting for another activity I’ve come up with climbing. It all sounds very positive. The club can fit us in at the times we require. The students can gain their level 1 and 2 qualifications in indoor climbing and it costs slightly less than the archery. Only problem now is whether or not school will give me the funding for it. I don’t see what the problem is as I only need the money I would have had anyway for archery, but for some reason no-one will confirm with me whether I can go ahead and book or not.

 

Although I won’t be doing the climbing myself I’m sure to pick up plenty of tips for when I do get round to trying this for myself. I’ve put it on my list of things to do as some of my friends are climbers and seem quite obsessed with it. I thought I should give it a go to see what’s so exciting about it. Personally I’ve always preferred to walk and get from one place to another rather than hanging about (literally!) in the same place all day. But I know I shouldn’t dismiss something without trying, hence it’s on my list.

 

I’ve also been looking into doing my level 3 Basic Expedition Leader Award as this will be useful both for when I’m working on the Duke of Edinburgh expeditions and for when I get around to doing my Walking Group Leaders’ qualification. The course runs over four weekends and costs £325. As it’s work related school would pay for this so of course I’m very keen to do it. The course runs twice a year, once in the autumn and once in the early spring. The autumn course would be best for me, but it’s full. I’ve looked at the dates for the spring course and it looks as though I’ll be unable to do two of the four weekends. I’ll have to try to move things around a bit, but as some of them are holiday things and as working in a school I have to take my holidays at fixed times, it won’t be that easy.

 

Duke of Edinburgh issues aside, I’ve also been starting to think seriously about my own business. Ultimately I want to own my own hostel and I have very specific ideas about what I want. But now isn’t a good time economically to start that type of business and also it would need a lot of financial input upfront. As I don’t have any track record in running my own business I’d find it difficult to get backing for something like that. So I need to start with something that is cheaper, easier to make a turnover in the beginning and ideally is something I already know quite a bit about.  I’m thinking sandwich shops / coffee shops. Having worked in this kind of business for years when I was travelling and a student it’s the thing I know best. I’m starting to look around at businesses for sale to get an idea of prices and locations. I’m not in a position to do anything about it at the moment, but at least I’ve made a start.

 

I’ve downloaded a few books on coffee shops, sandwich shops and small business start-ups on to my Kindle. My knowledge is out-of-date and legislation and so on does change so I thought I’d better read up. By downloading the books I’ll also use my Kindle more effectively as I can use the tools for highlighting and annotating and so on, rather than just reading. This means I’ll be getting to know how to use one of my new pieces of technology and working towards achieving one of my 2012 twelve targets at the same time as reading up on businesses.

 

Another of my 2012 targets that I’m working on at the moment is reading 10 of the books from the BBC Big Read list. At the beginning of the year I set myself the target of reading ten books from the list thinking this would be easily achievable, but we’re now three quarters of the way into the year and I haven’t read any. I realise I need to get a move on if I still want to achieve this goal and so I’ve started reading Arthur Ransome’s Swallow and Amazons.

 

I’ve also been working on my book database. I’ve catalogued my books up to the letter ‘C’ and already have almost 1100 entries on my database. I knew this would be a mammoth task when I started it, so I’m not setting myself a deadline. It does feel good to be getting on with it though.

 

The other thing that’s taking my time at the moment is trying to get all my write-ups from over the summer transferred onto my blog. I found using my tablet whilst I was in the Hebrides a good way to get every typed up straight away, rather than hand writing and then typing up later, but I struggled to find internet access. In Shetland there’s lots of free wi-fi and I was expecting it to be the same in the Outer Hebrides. So I have all these posts that I wrote at the time but was unable to publish. I have lots of photos to upload too and really it should be quite straightforward and quick, but my internet keeps playing up and stopping and because I have a rubbish internet company I’m struggling to get it fixed. This means that often when I do have the time and motivation to sit down and starting getting things updated the internet lets me down. As I do manage to upload my posts I’m backdating them to when I originally wrote them otherwise it’ll just be too confusing for me when I look back over them.

 

Duke of Edinburgh and other stuff

Things are coming together nicely.

I’m officially on the Duke of Edinburgh team at school. This is something I’ve been wanting to be involved with for a while, but it’s never worked out before. I’d like to get some experience on it as I think it will be interesting and fun to do, but also very useful for what I want to do in the future. I never got the opportunity to take part in it when I was younger, so now I’ll take part vicariously through my students. It was a bit touch and go for a while as to whether I could be part of the team or not – it all depended on student numbers. But as we have at least 80 students signed up we’re actually under rather than over staffed.

I need to offer a couple of activities I can work on with the students, so I’m looking at doing web design and archery. I haven’t done anything about getting my own website since I finished the web design course over a year ago, so if I have to start teaching the basics of it, this will get me back into it.

As for the archery, it’s something I’ve been keen to learn how to do ever since I had a go more than 10 years ago whilst on holiday in Ireland. A few times I’ve emailed a local archery club but never had a response. Whilst researching this for the Duke of Edinburgh group I found another club that isn’t too far away. It took them a while, but they have got back to me. The course they’re offering might be a bit too expensive but I have been given a few options. Hopefully we’ll be able to go ahead with it and then not only will my students get to take part in an activity and learn a skill they probably wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to do, but I’ll get to do it for free and in work time – how’s that for a cunning plan?!

At the meeting after school this afternoon, it was mentioned that it would be a good idea for someone to do a course for Duke of Edinburgh expedition leaders. I seem to be the most likely candidate for this. The course, which I know nothing about yet, is apparently one step down from the walking group leader’s qualification so this would be VERY useful for me.

Because I’m also teaching humanities this year (someone must have slipped up when they put my timetable together – this is getting me precariously close to teaching the subject I’m actually qualified to teach rather than a range of random subjects I know nothing about), I’ll probably get to go on a lot of the trips. This is also something I want to get more experience in as I feel it will be relevant and useful in the future.

All of sudden, I feel much more positive about this year!

Flying Lessons and Duke of Edinburgh

Getting involved with the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the chance of a flying lesson.

I’ve just booked a flying lesson! Well, I’ve almost booked one. I was flicking through my emails and noticed an offer for reduced price flying lessons on Living Social so I’ve bought the voucher. When it comes through I can book the 90 minute lesson. The small print says I have to give availability for four weekends over a 12 month period and they will contact me when I can have my lesson. So I won’t know exactly when I’ll be having my lesson until just before it happens, but the anticipation will be lovely.

I love the idea of being able to pilot my own small aircraft, but it’s expensive and so is something I can’t really contemplate doing at the moment. If I enjoy this one-off lesson I’ll know that it is something I really want to do and is worth saving for, and if not, I can take it off my list.

As for the Duke of Edinburgh, I’m talking about the award not the person. I keep trying to get involved in this but it never works out. This year I seem to have a really good chance of being involved. I went to a meeting last night where we planned for the coming year. As long as we get enough students interested I’ll be able to be part of the facilitating team. I’ve already said that my strengths lie in walking, camping and orienteering, and so I could work with the students on the expedition. Of course what’s in it for me is that it will count towards my walking group leader’s qualfication.

So, after a bit of a lull, things seem to be picking up again.

Duke of Edinburgh Award

Why I don’t want to go camping and walking this weekend.

The Duke of Edinburgh group from school have their camping and walking training expedition this weekend. It’s something I’ve been keen to get involved in ever since I’ve been a teacher but has never happened. As soon as the call went out for staff to help out this weekend I volunteered. Then I didn’t hear anything. I had been looking forward to it and it will be really useful for me to be involved in this as it could be relevant to my future plans (so I wasn’t volunteering just to be altruistic!) …

… then just before Easter I got the chance to do a free post-grad course that is relevant to my teaching and could widen my options later on. Great, except the one day Saturday school clashes with the Duke of Edinburgh weekend. I thought I could still manage both if I went straight to the campsite from college on the Saturday evening. At least I’d still get to spend the night camping and be involved with the walks and orienteering on the Sunday. But now I have so many other things to do, I’m actually hoping everyone has forgotten that I volunteered and I can spend my Sunday catching up on other things instead. Things like marking, doing my homework for web design, reading and planning for my uni assignment, gardening, ironing, cleaning, sorting through paperwork, and so on.

Not as exciting or as much fun, but I’ll feel a lot better to have it done. Especially as I’m planning to go down to Exmoor the following weekend for the half term week. I really need to get my life under control then I can relax and enjoy my free time.