An expedition through the seasons
by Sophie Lesser, Grade 11
Sophie reports on the first of four Duke of Edinburgh's Award Gold Expeditions.

For three days we hiked through nature in independent groups. We, the participants of the Duke programme, went on our first of four Gold Expeditions in Year 11. So we spent our weekend from 01 to 03 April 2022 straining but also productive.

Weeks before, we prepared for the expedition. We stuck together maps, planned checkpoints and breaks, bought food, packed sunscreen and broke in our hiking boots. We were all very excited, of course, and had expected the weather to remain high until we looked at the weather forecast. Of all things, it was going to snow that weekend! Nervousness, fear and tension arose in us.

Day 1: All groups walked to the train stop and took the train to Hilzingen. When we arrived, the expedition started immediately. Together we made our way to the campsite, which was right next to Hohenkrähen Castle. After all the groups had arrived at the campsite in the afternoon, each group set up their tent and made themselves comfortable despite the cold. In the evening, we cooked with our groups, ate and chatted around the warm campfire.

Day 2: Saturday was the best day to prove our independence. Having just woken up freezing, we found our tents covered in snow. That was a real motivation booster. Because it couldn't get any colder now. The cold could not harm us and we did not and would not give up. Around 9:00 am, each group was either driven to the starting point or had to set off directly. The whole Saturday each group walked about 20 km. With the help of our prepared maps, we quickly found the routes with the aim of arriving at a station. While planning the expedition, each group called a farm about 20 km away from the starting point to ask if we could spend the night there in the meadow with tents. Everything worked out successfully and as planned, each group arrived well at the farm. After another long and cold night, the next day was already waiting for us.

Day 3: After a self-prepared breakfast (there was porridge, for example), each group was already on its way back to school on Sunday morning. The positive feeling increased when the sun finally showed itself again. The biggest challenges were behind us, and now we had only one goal in sight: our second home, Schloss Spetzgart.

The expedition was a unique and unforgettable experience for us! We are all very much looking forward to the continuation and are now prepared for many things and few can still surprise us.

The photos were taken by Sophie and Andreas Jäger during the Duke Expedition.