I’m not sure where to begin to express in words how happy my colleague and I were with this expedition. The Wilderness Foundation UK and Wilderness Leadership School far exceeded our expectations in terms of support, professionalism, flexibility and innovation. The expedition itself was truly a unique experience. As an experienced organiser of nature and conservation based expeditions I can say that the Wilderness Leadership School’s wilderness trails offer completely genuine immersion into nature. Our trails were a combination of adrenaline fuelled excitement, wonder, awe, relaxation and challenge. The adventurous nature of the trails developed character traits we want to instil in our students. Teamwork, leadership, respect and resilience evolve naturally within the setting without having to contrive situations for the students to role play. It’s all real out there. I saw boys flourish in this environment, grow in confidence, emotional intelligence and spiritual richness before my eyes. Significantly, whilst on trail the expedition did not feel like a ‘school-trip’. We were all in the same boat, eyes looking out for each other, fetching water, eating together around the camp-fire and protecting each other at night. There was no sense of hierarchy here. No need for teacher-student discipline. In the wilderness you’re back to a primitive human state of social collaboration. The original teamwork. Our guides made the trip. Fountains of knowledge and calming forces under pressure during encounters with wildlife. We learnt an incredible amount from them, not just in terms of the practicalities of living in the wilderness, but also with respect to the spirituality of connecting with nature. It was an honour and privilege to have this opportunity to experience that which few people can in our urbanised world.
I recommend the Wilderness Foundation UK and Wilderness Leadership School wholeheartedly to any teachers looking to inspire their students; to influence the leaders of tomorrow; to become deeply connected with nature and the concept of sustainable living; to develop an awareness and love for nature. The impact the expedition had on our students was significant. Here are a couple of quotes from two students during a group indaba on trail:
‘Whilst on trail I’ve been thinking about purpose and consequence. Purpose; the fact that everything we do out here has purpose, making the fire, collecting water etc. Consequence; not just the consequence of doing, but also the consequence of not doing. Not doing something to help.’
‘In four days I’ve reached a place of happiness, freedom and inspiration which normally it would take a long time to reach.’
The trail awoke in students a sense of purpose and peace at the same time.
The organisation of such an expedition can be daunting. The Wilderness Foundation provide comprehensive support, including visits to schools and volunteer teachers who are happy to be contacted for advice, including sharing template letters, risk assessments and expedition guidance.
“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”
Baba Dioum, 1968
Head of Environmental Education and Sustainability, Biology Department, Eton College, UK
School, Youth and Cadet Group Referrals
If your school, youth or cadet group would like to speak to one of our previous expedition parties, please call us on 0300 123 3073, or email the Wilderness Foundation, and we will endeavour to provide you with the necessary information.