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by Rob Carmichael Head of Outdoor Education at UWC Thailand

At UWC Thailand we have been fortunate enough to have had ‘minimal’ changes to our school life throughout this academic year. Whilst there have been a few changes to our camp plans to accommodate recent COVID outbreaks at the beginning of the year in Thailand, we were still successful in running all of our Secondary School camps and expeditions, with Primary School camps taking place later in May. Take a look below what our students have done so far.

Secondary School Camps

Our Secondary School camps are a 5 day trip where students have the opportunity to experience a number of different activities to build confidence, independence and resilience in the face of new and exciting challenges.

Grade 6: Multi-activity Camp

The Grade 6 camp offered students the opportunity to put into practice a number of the hiking skills they learned early in the year during their Outdoor Education unit, on two challenging hiking routes. In addition to hiking the students also had the experience of kayaking in the stunning Andaman Sea and mountain bike on the beautiful island of Koh Yao Noi.

Grade 7: Sailing Camp

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Grade 7 students were faced with the challenge of learning how to sail. Their camp took place on the south coast of Phuket, where students honed their skills for 2 days before departing on a 3 day sailing expedition around Ko Lon Island and back to Phuket. The students showed great tenacity and willingness to face new challenges and soon developed into keen sailors.

Grade 8: Jungle Survival Camp

The focus of our Grade 8 camp was jungle survival and whilst we were unable to attend our usual camp location in Koh Sok National Park (due to Covid travel restrictions), we did have the opportunity to experience the beauty of Koh Yao Noi with its amazing jungle and coastal beauty that it has to offer. Students hiked, kayaked, learned how to light fires, build structures using readily available materials, as well as being shown a variety of wild plants that can be eaten in a survival situation.

Grade 9: Kayaking (Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Expedition)

The Grade 9 camp is broken down into two, two day kayaking expeditions with a day in the middle where students explore Phang Nga Bay on a cruise boat, stopping on the way to further investigate the islands and their lagoons by kayak. The expedition phase of the camp consists of the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award ‘practice’ and ‘qualifying’ journeys. For this, students set out to paddle the east coast of Phuket. Further information of the Duke of Edinburgh component can be found below 

Take a look at the day in Phang Nga Bay here.

Grade 10: Maritime Skills Camp

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A five-day maritime training camp for the Grade 10 students, during which they gained skills fundamental to any seafarer. Each day’s activity consisted of principles and components found in UK Maritime and the Coastguard Agency training syllabus. Students had the chance to take part in activities such as first aid, sea survival, seamanship skills, power-boating as well as the opportunity to pilot a trawler yacht.

Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions

Throughout the school year a number of our students choose to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh International Award. The Award is recognised by many as symbolising continued perseverance and determination, whilst this can be applied to the service, skill and physical activity components that students must complete, it is perhaps seen clearest in the undertaking of the Adventurous Journey Expedition.

Bronze Expeditions: Phuket East Coast Kayaking

The Bronze expeditions take place on the east coast of Phuket and as mentioned before this takes place over the course of their camp week with students taking the first 2 days to complete their practice expedition, and final 2 days to complete their qualifying expedition. Students navigate the entire east coast of Phuket over the course of both expeditions. This year there was several challenges for our students as they faced significant weather, forcing them to alter their plans and routes. The students’ determination and perseverance in the face of all this ensured their success.

Silver Expeditions: Phuket West Coast Kayaking

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The Silver expeditions had students launch from the north of the island on their practice journey and paddle down the west coast. For their qualifying journey, they made their way further down the stunning west coast of Phuket. This experience builds on the skills learned during the Bronze expedition, challenging students to paddle greater distances. The end result being that between both Bronze and Silver expeditions our students have completed a circumnavigation of Phuket.

Gold Expedition: Phuket/Phang Nga Cycle

The Gold expedition this year focused on students’ creating a detailed report using internationally set standards to review the quality of the roads in Phuket and Phang Nga for cycling. Several students on the expedition team are on the school’s sustainability committee and decided that in keeping with that theme they would both start and finish the journey at school. Students clocked over 80kms per day throughout the expedition and faced plenty of challenges along the way.

Environmental Explorations

Grade 11 and grade 12 students oversee and lead a number of environmental and sustainability clubs during the school year, and these students also have the opportunity to undertake a residential stay to further their understanding of their chosen cause.

M.A.N.T.A Coral Team

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Every year the students from our M.A.N.T.A (Marina Animal and Nature Trust Association) Coral Team gain an internationally recognised diving certification, taking an ‘open water’, ‘advanced open water’ or specialist diving course prior to conducting a research project on the local coral reefs. This year students were successfully certified during their mid term break and explored the ocean life surrounding Phuket.

More to come

Whilst we have had both a busy and successful year so far, we still have our Primary School camps to come and the highly anticipated Grade 11 Project Week.

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