Going for Gold in Germany
This summer was a historic one for the Bermuda chapter of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Following an intensive training schedule between January and July, 27 Gold Award participants packed their bags and headed east to Baden-Württemberg, one of Germany's 16 states in the southwestern part of the country.
The group consisted of young people from Saltus Grammar School, The Berkeley Institute, Bermuda High School, Mount St Agnes Academy, Warwick Academy and De Navigators at the Community Centre on Angle Street and two working young adults. They were under the supervision of two leaders, Karen Simmons and Leria McKenzie, and two leaders-in-training, Jahkhari Woods and Silita Thomas.
They settled in the little town of Osterburken, which housed their base camp for the two-week period at the beginning of August and was the headquarters of their counterparts, The German Award (Alte Bahnmeisterei).
They started with a local tour of a Roman museum and Roman fortress, where they learned about the ancient history of Osterburken, once a Roman casern situated directly on the border of the Roman Empire and Germania. This tour also provided some of the participants with ideas for their qualifying venture.
Over the ensuing days the group undertook some mini-hikes and had their first chance to try their navigation and orientation skills in the unfamiliar German countryside. Following the mini-hikes they started to plan for their practice hike. They were able to pull the practice hike off successfully, and after much more work and final tweaking, they managed to complete their routes for their qualifying venture.
In between all this they were given time to support the local economy through the clothing industry and local cuisine. They travelled by train to the town of Neckarsteinach and then on a ferry along the River Neckar to the popular town of Heidelberg, where they met town officials at Universitätsplatz (university square), participated in a scavenger hunt and visited the Castle of Heidelberg.
The Bermuda contingent had been broken up into four smaller groups (Pandora, Double Trouble, Fresh and Road Runners), and once the plans for their qualifying ventures were assessed by a panel of international assessors, they set out to navigate their way through the many forested areas of Baden-Württemberg.
During their venture they showed their true mettle. As one of the participants stated after all had successfully completed their Gold Expedition, “A walk around Harrington Sound should be considered nothing more than a walk in the park now.”
The Residential Project part of the expedition consisted of participants completing daily roster duties which included planning menus, cooking breakfast and lunch and serving it to their peers on china with real silver cutlery. After all was eaten, they were then charged with cleaning the kitchen and dining areas including the dirty dishes, while other groups cleaned the dorms, base camp grounds and bathroom and shower areas.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in Bermuda continues to enrich the lives of hundreds of young people each year and looks forward to challenging even more. Bermuda is a full member of the International Award Association and currently has 12 active Approved Award Centres with over 600 active participants.
l For more information on The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in Bermuda contact the National Director Tina Nash at 537-4868 or e-mail dofe[AT]theaward.bm or visit the website www.theaward.bm