For several Grade 9 and 10 students at Summerland Secondary School, earning the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is not an easy walk in the park.
Instead, the girls completed a three-day trek from Myra Canyon to Naramata as part of their achievement.
On the first day of the hike, they walked around 25 kilometres to Chute Lake. The next day was 18 to 20 kilometres to Glenfir, followed by an eight-kilometre hike to Naramata on the third day.
“We basically sprinted on the last day,” said Sabrina Maaske, one of the participants.
Four girls from Summerland and one from Vancouver Island participated in the hike. While some of them have taken part on hikes and climbs in the past, their weekend trek was done without adult supervision.
Maddie Hamilton, in Grade 10, hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa when she was 13 and Maaske, during a trip around the world with her family, hiked Machu Picchu in South America.
Miriam Bambey, another of the participants, said they began their day’s walking at 9 a.m., arriving at their campsite at 4:30 p.m.
At first, they stopped every five kilometres to take a break, but as the day wore one, they found themselves stopping more frequently.
“It would have been nice to do a bit of training before,” Maaske said.
Connie Bambey, another of the participants, said the backpacks felt heavy by the end of the day.
“I guess we could have thought a little more about weight,” she said.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is an international program for youths between the ages of 14 and 25. Youths from 126 countries are involved.
In the British Columbia and Yukon Division, 7,118 youths are registered.
Participants must complete activities in voluntary service, adventurous journey, skill and physical recreation categories.
There are bronze, silver and gold levels of this award.
Maaske had received her bronze level award in the challenge through Cadets, while the rest of the participants were new to it.
While some will participate independently, many go through the award program through schools or as members of groups such as Guides, Scouts, Cadets, church groups and others.
Maaske expects to finish her work for the award in June, while the rest are scheduled to finish in January.
They are all planning to continue to work towards the gold level awards.