On Friday 17th October 2014, thirty six brave International award participants met at 17.00 at Munich Hauptbahnhof to catch a train to Blaichach near Immenstadt.
The first challenge to the students while on the train was to form six groups of six making sure that no one felt left out. Having successfully achieved this, head torches and brightly coloured clothing were put on for the 3 km night walk from the station to our accommodation in Ortwang. After a substantial and much needed pasta meal the participants rotated around five activities evaluating the merits of different hiking equipment and discussing the range of activities chosen for the service, skill and fitness sections of the award. Finally late in the evening chance to relax, watch a film and chat with friends!
Next day the fast pace continued with team building games in the courtyard straight after breakfast. Then for half the participants it was time to head down to the Baggersee for practical exercises in camp cooking and erecting a tent. All the students had to show individually that they could safely put together, light and heat water on a trangia stove. As the last of the morning mist rose from the Baggersee the sweet smell of hot chocolate wafted around in the gentle breeze. The tempting smell reached the tent building group who found, with practice, they could erect a tent in around 5 minutes, important if the weather is against you and the need for shelter is pressing. By 12.00 the whole group had successfully completed both exercises and it was time to swap over for the navigation unit after lunch.
During the afternoon session basic theory and practical exercises in map reading and compass work were completed. Students were asked by their supervisors to navigate safely and accurately around a course in the local village. Local villagers looked on enquiringly as different groups passed them going in various directions! Safety is of paramount importance during all International award expeditions. Students must know how to react to emergencies. Possible situations were explored and discussed by all groups before the evening meal. Afterwards there was then time to plan the following day's walk before finishing a little earlier than the previous evening. Sunday was another beautiful day. The first of the groups left Ortwang in the school minibus at 8.30. This took them to the start of their planned walk to Immenstadt. Everyone enjoyed the walk experiencing both the enclosed beauty of the gorge and the more expansive views from the mountainside above Immenstadt.
All teams arrived successfully at their destination, tired but happy after a wonderful weekend.
A huge thank you to the parents who due to the rail strike collected participants by car from the railway station.