Silver lining in double DoE challenge

25 Oct 2022

College is now part of New Zealand Duke of Edinburgh Award history, completing a first-of-its-kind, multi-pursuit practice and qualifier Silver Adventurous Journey.

It has been achieved by giving the boys the skills to undertake both expeditions through training and practice leading up to the qualifying journey. Previously, the expeditions were completed separately or as one mode of transport, such as the Spirit of Adventure.

However, 34 College Years 10–11 students have proved to be ready for the fresh challenge.

Year 11 students Zinzan Bondarenko-Leatua and James Burt have shared their journeys, reflecting on the testing times of covering many kilometres each day.

“On the first three days, we walked for more than six hours most days and then on the next part of the journey, we cycled for up to three hours,” the boys say. “The weather was cold and wet at times and, one day, snow fell while we were on our mountain bikes.”

Both students have relished the chance to camp in the chilly conditions, making the most of the unique programme devised by the Boyle River Outdoor Recreation Centre.

For some of the Year 10 students, it was quick return to the great outdoors after completing their five-day Bronze Award journey the previous week.

“For our Silver Award, we set off from the start of the St James Walkway at the top of Lewis Pass and were soon navigating our way towards Molesworth Station,” James and Zinzan say. “Then we cycled part of the St James Mountain Bike trail while dealing with flat tyres and jammed bike gears.

“It was a lot more satisfying to do it all in one go, and easier than doing two tramps. Being with the same guys for a week, we got to know each other better and appreciate each other’s strengths so that we could best work together,” James says.

Zinzan adds that the journey has lifted the boys’ communication skills and the ability to use maps for navigation, along with developing leadership skills to support others.

“We had to all co-ordinate a large group to get to the objective and cater to everyone’s needs. For those wanting to target Silver, this is the way to do it,” the boys say.

Both James and Zinzan cite the amazing views and natural hot pools as highlights of their journey, along with the fish and chips and hot pools visit on reaching Hanmer Springs.

Boyle River Outdoor Recreation Centre manager Nick Chapman has put together the week-long journey for Christ’s College.

“The support of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award in undertaking these adventurous journeys, and, in particular, the partnership between College and The Boyle, not only enables these young men to gain the award, but also life-long memories, skills, and fortitude to overcome adversity, and helps develop their character strengths, which has synergy with the ethos of College in the wholistic development of these young men,” he says.

Duke of Edinburgh Award Master-in-Charge Graeme Christey says he “watched the boys as they were challenged by the multiple variety of factors along the journey”.

“Long days, variable weather and tough terrain meant that nearly every boy had to dig into their reserves to get through,” he says. “They developed teamworking strategies and I saw many find – or develop – character strengths they have not had to use before.

“When I floated the idea of this journey, I thought we might get 10 boys – not 34. Another 12 boys – supported by College teacher Dr Tom Hawkins – separately did the tramping section of the same journey to finish their Qualifying Adventurous for either their Silver Award or Gold Award.

The boys were also supported along the mountain-biking section by Director of Sport Rob Clarke and GAP students William Blanchfield and Dan Richards.

College intends to make the DoE double an annual event each September. Hopefully, more boys will be keen to take on the challenge in 2023.