On Monday 4th March, six students from Al Ain English Speaking School crossed the border into Oman to complete the Assessed Adventurous Journey, one of the five components required to complete the Duke of Edinburgh International Gold Award. Their challenge, to be completely self-sufficient for 4 days, fulfilling the requirement of eight hours of purposeful activity a day whilst applying the skills learned at school to camp, cook, navigate and hike through unfamiliar terrain.
The Duke of Edinburgh International Award is the world’s leading achievement award for young people. It is a voluntary, non-competitive and available to anyone aged 14-24. Over eight million young people have participated in the Award since it began in 1956 and many millions more have felt its impact in their communities. Over 300 000 students in over 140 different countries are currently participating in this Award Scheme.
AAESS are proud to have been delivering the Award since 2006 and our students have been reaping the benefits. It is internationally recognised and encourages young people to become determined, independent and responsible individuals as well as strengthening their CV and any future applications.
The Adventurous Journey seeks to provide participants with a unique, challenging and memorable experience. The venture, with an agreed purpose, should be undertaken in a small team in an unfamiliar environment, requiring determination, physical effort, perseverance and co-operation to complete. The key elements of this section are teamwork in planning and undertaking a journey against the background of the real challenges posed by an unfamiliar environment.
– The Duke of Edinburgh International Award
On arrival at Nizwa we used a local taxi company to take us up Jebel Akhdar and then a further 35km to the start location, a small village called Ar Rus with a population of just 88. Ar Rus is at an altitude of 1859m and would be the lowest point of the expedition. Once there, the participants made their final checks and ensured they had all they needed for the next four days.
Throughout the journey, the participants saw some amazing landscapes; wildlife ranging from Egyptian Vultures sawing in the sky to lizards scurrying amongst the rocks, authentic rural living, farming and the rose terraces of Al Ayn. A couple of particular highlights were waking up above the clouds on the final morning and the spectacular sights of Al Sawjrah, a tiny village built into a rock face and only accessible by foot. Our journey came to an end in the town of Saiq where the students had an opportunity to walk within the orchards where local farmers were still employing ancient techniques, and explore of some the old buildings.
I have been on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions before, but never one quite like this. The Gold Expedition was the most mentally and physically challenging, which made it so much more rewarding once we reached every spectacular view. We encountered many wildlife and local people along our journey, allowing us to grasp a real feel of the Omani culture. This has taught me mental strength, perseverance and ultimately given me a trip that I will never forget.