The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA is the world’s leading youth achievement award, equipping young people for life. Over the past few years, the award has become a treasured part of high school at Silicon Valley International School (INTL). Achieving an award recognizes individual goal setting and self-improvement through persistence and achievement. High school students participate in skill-building, community service, physical recreation, and the highly anticipated Adventurous Journey.
The Adventurous Journey can take different forms but must be a challenge. Completed in small teams, the Journey takes students out of their comfort zone as they travel through an unfamiliar environment over the course of several nights. The Adventurous Journey provides the students with the opportunity to develop their self-confidence and teamwork skills while being suitably trained and supervised to remain safe and secure. This year, 11th and 12th grade students split into two groups for their expedition in the snows of Stanislaus National Forest.
After arriving at the cabin, the students transferred their gear indoors and discussed tent setup and ground preparation for snow camping. Once the students were settled into the cabin, they shared their first dinner together. Group 2 prepared a tasty raclette party with potatoes, veggies, and meats.
The following morning, Group 1 returned the favor by preparing a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon. The groups then separated for the day, with one taking part in a nine-mile hike at Spicer Sno-Park, while the other went on a smaller snowshoeing hike around the cabin and set up the area for those who would be camping outside that evening. In the afternoon, the students rested, getting some homework done, staying warm, and preparing for dinner.
The next day, both student groups joined each other in the cabin and shared their separate overnight experiences, with Group 2 providing brisk memories and tips for spending time outdoors snow camping, and Group 1 reminiscing about their ramen dinner.
Group 1 then made their way to the tent area, set up their sleeping arrangements, had lunch, and took a small afternoon snowshoeing expedition near the cabin.
Meanwhile, Group 2 took a bit of time to enjoy the warm indoor space before setting out on their trek to Spicer Sno-Park for lunch and a hike in the snowy hills of the Stanislaus Forest. After returning to the cabin in the afternoon from their respective hikes, the students used their much-welcomed rest time to enjoy some snacks, study, and carry on with their homework.
On Friday morning, both groups rejoined each other in the cabin once again and shared how chilly or cozy their nights were. Students had their lunch sandwiches, some fun in the snow, and set out on a new snowshoeing expedition near the cabin to take in the stunning views of the valley and the North Fork of the Stanislaus River.
On Saturday, the students spent the morning sharing a good time together, recounting stories, packing their bags, and cleaning the cabin prior to the long bus ride back to Willows campus.
We’d like to thank all of the students who participated in this trip for having a positive attitude during our shared time together. Some moments were more challenging than others, like sharing a common space with 16 other people, organizing dinners for each other, and not the least, camping outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures. They showed care, compassion, patience for each other, and a willingness to take on new risks. As they take time to reflect, we hope that they were able to learn something new and keep some good memories from this experience. Also, a special thanks to our advisors and chaperones, Ms. Emily, Mr. Goulding, and Ms. Lee, who took precious time out of their week to be with the students.