Year 7 ODE

Day of departure

At 8am all students were ready to go and almost forgot to actually pack their bags.We followed the same routine as last year. Load up the truck, get the backpacks, stuff the backpacks with food and too much clothes. After packing the bags and complaining about the weight of them we made our way to the buses.

We left school a bit too late as moving in a group of all most 40 people does not go as quick as anticipated. It was a 2 hours long bus ride but it seems that the students amused themselves with songs and “gossip”.

As we passed the concrete jungle of Khartoum, the mud houses of Omdurman and the water irrigation systems of Karaky we arrived at our drop off point about an hour late.

A the drop-off location the students had their first small group activity (two tent groups, 7 to 8 students):  build a field stretcher from ropes or duct tape and 2 long and two small metal pipes and carry and “injured person” to the campsite.  As they demonstrated the could carry the “injured person”, the “injured person” was replaced by tents and charcoal (bit safer considering the structures they build).

They 3.4 km walk was a challenge for most students. It was still a bit hot, the back packs were heavy and the stretchers were falling apart. Students lost any sense of distance and time as they thought they walked for about 10 km. As soon as we reached the campsite a sense of relief went through the group and all lost energy was regained and students felt proud of marching all this way while carrying all their own stuff.

Setting up the camp went relatively quickly and students had some time to explore the surroundings, jump off the dunes, roll down the dunes, and play tag on the dunes.

After another hydration session, students were getting hungry so it was time for their own cooking experience. Pasta pesto, Pasta bolognese, instant noodles are still the ODE favorites.

As every year 7’s ODE, the biggest challenge on this trip was definitely the toilet, as the toilet was none existent. For two days, a shovel and a piece of paper is what we called the toilet. Some students did not care about it, some students did not like it at all but “pushed through” while others were really out of their  comfort zone. Definitely and experiences they will never forget even if they want to forget :-)

Mr. Rob took the campfire time to answer questions about the Milky Way and the billion of stars around us. I am still surprised and amazed of how much stars you can see in Sudan once you are out of the city.  

Lights out is always a bit difficult at the first night, as sleeping without parents, AC, bed, walls is scary/challenging/fun/awesome/horrible/fantastic/emotional/embarrassing so sleep is not coming easily. After a few warnings,  “sleep” finally won the battle and the camp turned quiet. Not for very long unfortunately, as before 6am students were up and brushing their teeths and waking everybody else up while doing so.

After an early breakfast students had some professional development on  “how to make a desert shelter”. We provided them with the necessary materials and off they went. The strong wind added an extra challenge but the boys and girls did really well and provided themselves some shade during the hottest time of the day. They relaxed, slept, talked, argued, stole “watermelons” from each other, threw sand, played games, and sing songs.

As the temperature cooled down a bit the students made a field sketch for their year 7 Geography/Humanities units and cleared up their shelters.  This was all done very quickly and they were ready to find the biggest dune to slide, jump, role of it. It was great fun.

Back at the camp, they had a “Master Chef course”  form Outdoor Chef Ben. The recipe this time was bread on a stick. Students did really well and if the flower would have been the right one it would have been delicious too. It was eatable but it good have been so much better with the right flower. I should have bought the green packages according to fellow Chef Mr. Mohamed. Lesson learned.

Thanks to Mr. Husein the school provided hot dogs were awesome, and marshmallows at the end a this long ODE is always a success, for some students it is really difficult to understand that NO means actually NO and ONE means ONE.

Lights out was really easy and the camp was quiet as soons as it was lights out. After another cool (maybe cold for some) night we packed up, walked back to the road and drove back to school.

I think despite the small logistical problems and change of location it was another learningful experience for everybody involved.

The trip would not have been a success without the help of all involved but a special thanks goes out to Mr. Maysar and his team of drivers for arranging extra transport, Mrs. Jenny, Mr. Rob and Mr. Mohamed and Mr. Hussein for all their help during the trip.

Gerben Silvis

ODE Coordinator