Indian adventure for North East pupils

Forty-two students from Dame Allan’s Schools set off for a month-long adventure to India

Over the summer holidays, a group of 16 to 18 year-olds from Dame Allan’s Schools will take part in a series of exciting activities in India, including a two-week trek across the Himalayas with seven river crossings, as part of their expedition with World Challenge. 

The group have been training and preparing for the trip for the last 18 months and, as well as passing rigorous fitness tests and training expeditions, each pupil had to raise £4,000 to fund their place. The money was raised through a series of fundraising events including an Indian night at the schools, which included a lesson in Indian dance, coffee mornings and even turkey breeding for Christmas.

Cameron Smart, 16, undertook a gruelling coast-to-coast cycle to raise some of his sponsorship money. Cameron and his dad cycled 137 miles from Whitehaven to Tynemouth and raised over £200 from friends and relatives to go towards Cameron’s place on the expedition.

Cameron said: “This is my first time doing World Challenge and I’m really excited. The coast to coast cycle was really difficult but it was a good way to raise money and helped with my fitness for the expedition!”

The aim of the trip is to help with the personal development of the teenagers, who are nearing the end of their school careers and will soon be entering the wider world. This is achieved by honing their teamwork and leadership skills, helping them to gain confidence and self-esteem, encouraging them to become more globally aware and to aid their employment prospects. 

One student from each group will be in charge of the budget for the duration of their trip and there will be a new person in charge every day so each of them has the opportunity to lead the group. They are largely left to figure out everything from cooking to their accommodation themselves, under the watchful eye of their supervisors from the Schools and World Challenge. 

Mr Phil Wildsmith, who is an expedition leader with World Challenge and also Head of Dame Allan’s Boys’ School said: “World Challenge is a brilliant opportunity for young people, helping them to learn important life skills such as leadership and the consequences of their actions in real life situations. It also illustrates the reality of how other people around the world live and how privileged we are.” 

The teenagers from Dame Allan’s will be split in to three groups on the trip. They will separate at Heathrow airport and not have contact until they return.

Their expeditions will take the groups to Kerala, Agra and Jaipur as well as the Himalayas and remote villages. As well as the trekking phase of the trip, the students will be spending time at schools in India, helping with lessons, decorating and donating textbooks.

Dr Hind, Principal at Dame Allan’s Schools said: “World Challenge is an exciting and beneficial adventure for our young people. Dame Allan’s has been sending expeditions for a number of years and I am always thrilled to see how the experience has changed them for the better. I am sure this year will be no different.”  

Dame Allan’s Schools have been involved with World Challenge for a number of years, with previous destinations including Argentina and Peru, Thailand and Laos, China and Namibia and Botswana.    

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