Friday, 15 January 2016

Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award


Sperrins Mountains, Northern Ireland

Last weekend I got to go on one of the most positively challenging weekends of my life. I have ached in places I didn't even know existed, seriously considered that my death may be near and laughed to the point of tears. I've always considered myself as a positive person and I constantly try to motivate others to think similarly yet my first Duke of Edinburgh silver expedition really put me to the test. For those of you who don't know, the Duke of Edinburgh awards are a series of a awards designed to help acquire young adults to challenge themselves in different areas of their life, this includes sports, volunteering, skills and the dreaded long waited expedition.


As many of you already know, I live in the dainty wee country of Northern Ireland where the landscape is rich in lots of open green land and mountains. Our silver expedition took place in the Sperrins which was very new territory for us. Most of us had never even set foot in the Sperrins before, having previously practiced and walked in the well known Mourne Mountains. Despite carrying twice your own body weight on your back in a rucksack, the beauty of scenery is still not escaped. It blows my mind that there is such beauty right on my doorstep that I had never even seen before. Every step was one towards a different part of the world we had never discovered and to know that the only direction you have is your own mental ability to read maps is pretty scary.


There is something about walking that just opens your mind and makes everything seem so clear and anxious free. You are so caught up in the challenge of the moment that your determination and fire just completely overwrites every small worry and stress. It's honestly like being on an adventure and no matter where you turn there is always something new to look at, however irrelevant it is! You learn so much about yourself and the people around you when you are put under such pressure and I don't know another way any person my age could truly experience that. As we walked we discovered many beautiful historical buildings that we decided to collect together as our expedition aim.


There is no right or wrong way to do an expedition. Everyone at some point is going to complain and just wish they could rip their map in half but at the end of the day, when you are sitting in the middle of no where, eating your soggy sandwiches alongside your seventh mars bar, you have a choice to make. You can either continue to sob and evaluate your life or make the moment you are in count. You can try and find the right way or you can just make your own because when everyone comes together and works as a team, you will eventually reach your destination.


Some succeed because they are destined to but most succeed because they are determined to. If you want to go fast, you can walk alone but if you want to go far you have to walk together.