The Perse School

Summit 11 pupils prepare for Swedish expedition at Fritton Lake

11 Mar 2016

Preparations for PES Summit 11’s expedition to Sweden over the summer are well underway. Last weekend, members of Summit 11 visited Fritton Lake to practise their canoeing skills ahead of their trip. The weekend was complete with learning new bushcraft skills, practising shelter building and firelighting. Kirstie in Year 11 has written a report of this action packed weekend.

“Last Friday Year 11 headed off to Fritton Lake early in the morning to begin the final field weekend before our trip to Sweden in the summer. The morning started with a thorough kit check and a last minute drinks refill before beginning the bus journey to the shores of Fritton Lake. After a long journey filled with snacks, songs and sleep we arrived at the scout camp and were briefed on what needed to be done in order to set up. The first task was moving all the canoes down to the lake, not the favourite of all the jobs, but essential to a canoeing trip. The canoes were hauled down to the lake, carried by groups of four, who then proceeded back up to the top of the site to collect more equipment for each individual fire. After all the kit had been moved the first task that needed doing was assembling the group tarp so that we could store all our personal kit under it in case it rained while we were at activities. After a lot of talking and not much doing we finally assembled a rather low, saggy tarp, but it did the job of keeping our kit dry.

On Friday, group two were canoeing and group one were having a bush craft day. On the water we practiced rafting up, learning much more stable ways of lashing the canoes together using wooden poles, and getting in and out the water. We also were reminded of the strokes and paddling techniques we learnt on the first field weekend, such as sweep stroke along with the forward and backward strokes. After a long day of canoeing we returned to our sites to assemble our personal tarps and hammocks and start cooking dinner. Dinner is always a fun and communal task to make as everyone is able to talk about their experiences and reflect on the day. Making dinner in the dark is challenging but when you produce a satisfying meal on only a fire, the sense of achievement is great throughout the group. The rain was coming down and the temperature was low but after stories by the camp fire, everyone went to bed in good spirits and prepared for the cold night ahead.

We woke up steadily on Saturday ready for the day ahead. To test our skills we had to get a fire going as quickly as possible to get breakfast up and going. With much success we got our fire ready and porridge on and began to prepare for our day of bush craft skills. After a very a hefty breakfast we were given time to improve shelters and our camp. We decided to make our group tarp higher so that we could actually stand up in it and improve its shape. This tested our knots, communication and efficiency as when we decided to take the tarp down it decided to rain, inevitable when in the outdoors. Due to our hard work on presenting our sites there was a brief inspection by Mark and Mr Slader, in which our fire won due to our immaculate food boxes and overall cleanliness. The sense of achievement was high throughout the rest of the day and we were all very pleased with our efforts. Our main task was to produce a spoon to use on Sweden as all cutlery will be confiscated, so a spoon is deemed essential for our trip. A comprehensive workshop with Pete Edwards informed us of all the relevant steps on how to make the perfect spoon. A new skill I learnt was using an axe; we used an axe to make the rough shape of the spoon by firstly splitting the log into thirds and taking the middle third to produce the spoon. We then proceeded to use the axe to chip away the sides and create a spoon shape. Then there was the spoon gouge, the hardest part for me, which created the concave hole in the middle of the spoon. The last task involved was the rigorous  smoothing and perfecting the shape which seems to take the majority of the time. Personally I have never thought that carving was strength of mine but after six hours of perseverance and determination I managed to produce a thing that looked a lot like a spoon. Over the whole camp I would have to say that producing my spoon was my biggest personal achievement and I very much look forward to hopefully producing some more over the week in Sweden. In the evening a large achievement for our fire was making a steam sponge, after two and a half hours of steaming we had produced a delicious dessert which then came joint first in the baking competition the next day.

Sunday was our last day and largely consisted of packing up, but earlier in the day there was a baking competition, fire lighting competition and spoon competition. Different members of our fire entered all three and we were very happy to have won the baking competition. Hector and Chloe entered the fire lighting competition where they could only use natural resources to light the fire to boil the Kelly Kettle and came very close to winning as well. Louise and Ben won this by boiling the Kelly kettle in around seven minutes, an impressive time given the weather.

Overall the whole weekend was extremely enjoyable and valuable to everyone in Summit 11. Without learning these skills and then gaining the confidence to use them, Sweden would not be best it could be. Field weekend was filled with personal and group achievements and it really does prove how essential it is to have a team in the outdoors as it just wouldn’t be possible alone. After two days preparing for the expedition I can’t wait to use these skills in Sweden along with the rest of Summit 11.”

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