8:15 at Genolier train station: over 50 of us, divided into 8 groups, and 4 assessors gathered to organise ourselves for the upcoming two days ahead of us.
Long after an hour of trying to find our route cards, compasses and maps we set off for Arzier. Some, including my group, got off there and started our day of hiking but others left for la Givrine to begin theirs there.
By about 10:30 we were already at our first checkpoint. Our day was going to plan and we still had full motivation.
The Bronze International award is achieved by doing 3 months of skill, service and physical recreation each, which is then followed by a two day hiking trip, also known as the ‘Adventurous Journey’. To complete this journey, you are put into groups of 5 or 6 and must follow a certain route that is specific to your group and pass by all the checkpoints (12) along that it. This year, the journey took place on the 5th and 6th of June.
The journey from checkpoint two to three was probably the worst out of the whole day. One moment, the sun was shining through the clear blue sky and the next, it started pouring with rain. Despite this, we put our rain coats on continued on our route. After that period of cold dreadfulness, we made good and steady progress.
By the time we got near to the final checkpoint for the day, which was also where we were going to camp out for the night, we all felt as though we needed to make a run for it. We were so determined to get to the campsite and settle down, we practically ran all the way there. Once we got there, we set up our tents in a corner and made some tea. For dinner, we made chicken noodle soup and pasta, in addition to that we roasted some marshmallows for ‘dessert’- yes, comfort food was well needed.
As it got darker and the sun started to sink down behind the Alps across from us, we started getting ready for bed. At ten pm, we all had to be in our tents and sleeping bags. I must say that it wasn’t the best night of sleep due to the rain and cold temperature but I did get about 5-6 hours of repose.
The next morning, I woke up at 6 and began to get ready for the upcoming day. We made coffee, cooked some bacon and some sausages. Following that, we began to pack up our tents and clean up the area we occupied. We were only allowed to leave once our assessor checked that everything was cleared up and nothing was left behind.
Day two was beautiful; the sun came out and there was virtually no sign of a potential storm. This was definitely an encouraging factor as it kept our spirits high.
We experienced many things that day – especially cows. There were probably 6 cattle farms that we passed by, but luckily all the cows were very friendly and did not charge into us.
I think the most difficult section on that day was between checkpoint 2 and 3; there was a huge hill at almost a 90 degree angle and it took us approximately 40 minutes to climb up it. Yet once we overcame that arduous slope, everything was fine again and we caught up on time since the rest of the journey was mostly on flatland.
The scenery was honestly magnificent; the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere and there was no sign of urbanisation simply reinforced the natural beauty of our surroundings.
We finished at our last check point and had lunch there. Soon after, a few other groups came and joined us there. The train came eventually and we got off at Artier train station to meet with all the other groups. A bus took us back down to school, which was a major advantage as our feet, legs, shoulders and hips were sore.
All things considered, the adventurous journey and the International Award as a whole was a great experience. It was pleasant to walk in complete wilderness at times as it felt very peaceful and serene. Additionally, it was an enriching experience in the sense that we learned a lot on map-reading, orienteering and teamwork.
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