The Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award is a wonderful opportunity for young people to take ownership of their personal development and have fun at the same time. The Award is separated into four sections: service, skill, physical recreation, and adventurous journey. Students can choose a variety of different activities for the first three sections which they commit to for at least one hour a week over three to six months. The adventurous journey is completed by taking part in training then completing a practice and qualifying overnight tramp.

Students can progress through three levels of The Award starting with the Bronze, the Silver and finally Gold. They need to be 14 years old to complete their Bronze, though they can sign up from 13 years and 9 months. At Strathallan we offer guidance and support for students as they choose their activities and also organise the tramps for the adventurous journey, typically in term one and term four.

Students interested in signing up for The Award can speak to Dr Greenley at any time during the year. There will however be an information meeting one day during Week 2 this term so students should pay attention to the daily notices.

Students who participate in The Award find it rewarding and enjoyable as they push themselves outside their comfort zones and learn new things about themselves. Despite the challenges of last year, at the end of term four students working towards their Bronze and Silver Award completed their adventurous Journey.

Our bronze and Silver Award students recently completed their Adventurous Journey section of the Award and speak about their ‘journey’ below.

Bronze Award [Annalie Malins, Nadiah Pattinson, Amy Zou]

What we enjoyed about the tramp

One of my favourite things about completing the Duke of Edinburgh International award was the final tramp over the pinnacles in the Coromandel. Although the climb up was difficult, when we reached the very top it was worth it. I got to know the other members of my team very well over the two days we tramped. Cooking our own dinner was very fun as we were able to learn a bit about what it’s like to be independent – and it tasted very good afterwards. Although one of the best bits was when we saw the van at the end and were able to finally sit down and relax.

Why is it important?

Just being outside and in the bush is a great opportunity to explore our own backyard and experience our country up close. Even while we were being challenged up steep and rocky hills while hauling heavy packs on top of us, the company of friends and the views of our breath-taking nature and landscape taught us not only to be resilient, but also to appreciate the beautiful things we have right in front of us, despite the sweat and heat that often absorbs our thoughts.

Overview of the tramp

Before starting to hike, me and my team looked at the hiking routes on the map and marked checkpoints for where we are going to stop and estimated how long it would take to hike between check points. This is crucial as it helps us to keep track of where we are going and where we are on the map. After that we checked that we’ve got everything we needed and the hiking begins. It took my group 5-6 hours to hike up to where we were staying for the night, and we did stop along the way to take a look at the beautiful views and have some snacks. Once we got up to where the camp site is, tents were set up for the night and we started to prepare our dinner. It was still very early after dinner, so we decided to climb up to the top of the Pinnacles and admire the views from up there. It was fascinating. All the trees looked so small and we also got to see the sunset before we went back down. On the next day, we hiked back down another track after having the breakfast that we made and did it all again to go home.

Silver Award [Vicky Quinn]

I was one of the lucky four, along with Richard Sun, Zeb Wilson and Josh Barclay-Stoker, who completed their Silver Duke Of Ed tramp with Dr Greenley, Mr Scott and Jayden Mullins. Throughout the three days of scrambling over mountains and sinking into knee-high mud, I learnt how far my body and mind can be pushed. I also gained a new appreciation of the miracles of flushing toilets, having a comfy mattress to sleep on and mum’s homemade meals. Besides overcoming physical challenges, I strengthened existing bonds and made new friends amongst my peers too. Afterall, walking 7+ hours each day, helping each other cross rivers and fallen logs and deciding which way to go at junction points really provided a lot of expert bonding time, as well as honing our listening and teamwork skills. We also got to meet incredible New Zealanders and learn their stories after finally getting to our camp site; one of whom was spending months tramping the Te Araroa Trail (from Camp Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff at the bottom of the South Island). Overall, it was a truly humbling and unforgettable experience that I am so grateful I got the opportunity to participate in. I’d like to thank the teachers, especially Dr Greenley, for giving up their time to help us and the other trampers who made the trip all the more special.