Turtles never give up
This years International Award team at the ABC officially includes 26 students. That is a 225% increase compared to last year's recruitment and so we are pleased to report that there has been a massive interest in the Award this year - probably due to the intrepid escapades of last year's bronze and silver teams including the historical crossing of 'El Impossible'. The official statistics are:
16 brand new bronze candidates from year 9
4 new silver candidates from year 11
2 silver candidates who are progressing to silver level after completing bronze last year.
4 gold level candidates who are progressing to gold level after completing silver last year.
Bear in mind that it is not easy to complete an International Award at any level, and we will be waiting with baited breath to see which of this year's candidates have 'what it takes' to complete their awards and will receive their official congratulations at the awards ceremony in June. At this point, we would like to see all of them succeed, so come on this year's candidates - if I may borrow from a certain world leader's famous inauguration speech, ' Candidates -yes you can!'.
The first activity this year took the form of an weekend at the Portezuelo park in Juayua. Amidst multiple activities and the occasional torrential rain the new candidates of the ABC International award were welcomed into the 'family'.
After completing two afternoon training sessions the group were ready for an expedition, and that took the form of a 'tri-volcano' challenge at the 'Parque de los volcanes' in Cerro Verde. In one weekend the bronze and silver candidates undertook to climb three volcanoes in the region, camping in tents at the Campo Bello site in Cerro Verde. The volcanoes were the severe 'Izalco', the leafy 'Cerro Verde' and the other-wordly 'Santa Ana'. Carrying all their equipment on their backs up Santa Ana was a challenge to some of our candidates.
"I feel like a turtle" one bronze candidate complained.
"Remember, turtles never give up" a teacher replied.
Food was provided by the staff International award team and a peaceful night was passed out under the stars, for the students at least. The night was less fortunate for the staff, who having cooked a meal outdoors for 25 people after walking all day, were heroically exhausted. They were preparing to take some well earned rest when disaster struck and one of them received a painful burn on the leg, and yet another teacher found they had pitched their tent on a nest of forest ants. Despite these incidents and the new challenges for the students, the whole party was in fine spirits the next day and a much shouting and singing could be heard up and down the file of 'turtles' making their way up to the top of Santa Ana to view the spectacular crater lake. New entertainments invented by the candidates to ease the journey included ' the turtle dance' the 'frog pretending to be a turtle' dance, and a moving rendition of the old song 'if you are happy and you know it clap your hands' with the words 'tired/exhausted/hungry/turtle' replacing the word happy with much enthusiastic clapping.
The group was safely loaded onto the buses before the heavens opened and belting rain pummeled the windows of the bus as the students settled snugly down for a triumphant post-expedition nap on the return journey to the ABC. Well done to students and staff, the next expedition will be Navigation day on January the 19th on the local volcano 'El Boqueron'.