Olchfa has a proud history of taking pupils on expeditions abroad. Working with World Challenge and Outlook Expeditions we have been to South Africa, Ecuador, Venezuela, Morocco, Iceland and Finland in recent years. Each expedition involves training, fund-raising, a supported walk in the destination, in some cases some community work in-country and some sightseeing at the end.
When planning an expedition we look for destinations that have plenty of amazing sights, both physical and cultural. From the untouched wilderness of Iceland and Finland to the tropical rainforest of Venezuela and the high peaks of the Atlas Mountains we have taken pupils into these environments. They have seen whales, towering waterfalls, worked in orphanages, stood at the toe of glaciers, watched the joy of people who happily live simple lives, climbed to 4500m and been soaked by geysers erupting. They have experienced the heat of North Africa and survived hurricane force winds in Iceland. They have forged friendships in adversity, learned to cope with the sight of poverty and felt the euphoria of nature at it’s most impressive.
An expedition is different from a normal school trip, in that pupils run the trip including the budget, book all accommodation, buy and cook the food and arrange transport as well as ensuring everyone is safe and happy, often in very remote locations. They are supported in this by a small team of staff whose job is to ensure pupil safety while allowing pupils to lead. One of the main aims of an expedition is to bridge the gap between family or school holidays and adult independent travel. The hope is that their success in leading will allow pupils to build the confidence for future solo or small group travel.
These trips can change pupil’s perspective of themselves and help them realise that the world is a weird and wonderful place. They also see the polarity of the planet by visiting places where man has yet to impact on, as well as to witness places where the destructive power of humans is evident.
Our next expedition is in February 2017 when 35 pupils, in three teams, are travelling to remote northern Finland on a snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing expedition into the wilderness. We also have plans to visit Iceland for the fifth time the following year and to once again walk the Hot Springs Road across the centre of Iceland from Landmanalaugar to Porsmork, regularly marketed as one of the top ten walks in the world.