Wellington College, the first school in Britain to put wellbeing lessons into the curriculum, has given a group of lucky pupils the opportunity to take part in a very unusual wellbeing and personal development expedition to Africa.
Twenty four pupils and three adults travelled to Namibia in south-west Africa in October, where they tracked desert elephant and rhino and took part in daily yoga classes, bush spiritual services guided by a priest who happened to be travelling with the group, photography workshops, wildlife masterclasses and stillness/mindfulness sessions. They left their phones behind, cutting off from everything familiar and experiencing a very different form of daily life.
The aim was to give the pupils a life-changing experience and provide them with the time and space for inner reflection, as well as giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge. Each young person was expected to become an expert in something while on the trip, from star gazing to playing the guitar around the camp fire.
The group, all sixth-formers and fully co-ed, travelled with three teachers. They visited a very remote desert research station, Gobabeb, on the edge of the Namib Desert, which is a world-famous site for academic research but has no tourist access. They also went to Damaraland where they tracked desert elephant and rhino on foot. Expeditions at Wellington often have a fundraising or charitable aim as well, and for this trip, the goal was to raise money for Save the Rhino Trust Namibia which works to protect the area’s population of desert-adapted black rhino, the only truly free-ranging population in the world.
The journey to reach their destination was a challenge in itself: it took 24 hours of travelling to reach the Namib Desert to begin their adventure.
More than 50 students applied for places on the trip, having to go through an interview process to be chosen.
Brynn Bayman, who led the expedition on behalf of the school’s geography department, said: “It was the trip of a lifetime for these young people – both transformative and unforgettable, bringing them to a new understanding of who they are as people and their part in the ‘big picture’.”