Published 30 September 2022

Filippa and Freya returns from mountain expedition

Photo: The students

Two of our students in IB DP24, Filippa Samuelsson and Freya Briggs, have just returned from an adventurous expedition in the Swedish mountains.

This is a journey which they undertook with 7 other SSHL students and staff. The group ventured out on a 3 day long hike that covered 50 kilometers by foot. This was a part of their assignment in The Duke of Edinburgh Award Programme, an internationally renowned extracurricular programme, available for all students at SSHL.

On Silver Level, one of the challenges is to acquire the knowledge and skills to plan and perform an expedition. And this goal was truly achieved by the students on this hike.

Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition 2022

The journey started in Uppsala, where the expedition boarded a night train that would take them to Storulvån via Östersund. Storulvån is a small settlement in the central part of Sweden, with a mountain station for hikers. This was the starting point for our students, as they set out on the 3 days’ long walk along the beautiful and popular trekking circuit “Jämtlandstriangeln”.

Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition 2022

The students, accompanied by PE teacher Niklas Lönnqvist and Head of Sports Thomas Persson, walked between the mountain stations Storulvån, Sylarna and Blåhammaren, where they spent the nights in small mountain cabins. For the main part of the trek, the expedition walked above the tree line between mountain ridges and the cloudy skies, passing reindeers, rivers, and lakes.

On the final day on the mountain, before heading back to civilization, Freya and Filippa climbed the peak of Getryggen, 1382 meters, to see the sun rise. Even though the Swedish mountains are rather modest in height, the views are spectacular and the physical efforts can be intense.

Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition 2022

Freya and Filippa are both students and classmates at the international IB Diploma Programme at SSHL. Freya is living and studying as a boarder, Filippa lives in Sigtuna. They both have many examples to share when I ask them what was the best moment of the expedition:

– I would say spending time with friends, and exploring the nature. Also the 4th day when we woke up early to walk. And when we got to the different mountain stations, and the sauna with a view. And that we could fill our own water bottles and drink the water directly from the river. On the 3rd day we took a swim – or it was more like a quick dip!

Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition 2022

Were there any challenging moments?

– The food! I think we could have prepared a bit more, you underestimate how much you eat. And we had to prepare all our meals and carry it all ourselves in our backpacks.

Freya and Filippa didn’t quite like the instant food that was offered, but ate more of what they brought themselves such as pasta, noodles, nuts and bars.

– We went on a practice hike earlier this month on Upplandsleden. Then we got to try the instant food and I didn’t really enjoy it, Filippa explains.

Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition 2022

How come you joined The Duke of Edinburgh? 

– It was my philosophy teacher Ms Hawking who introduced me to The Duke, Filippa says. I did the Bronze Level last year.

– I did the Bronze Level of the award at my old school, and then I found out it was available here so I started on the Silver Level this fall, says Freya.

What does the DofE programme mean to you? 

– It’s really good for your resumé and for your future university applications, so this is something we both want to achieve, Freya explains. And we already do CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) activities in the Diploma programme, which is quite similar and works well together. But of course it’s also fun!

The Duke of Edinburgh Award was introduced as an extracurricular programme at SSHL in 2020. How has the response been from the students since the start? 

– The program has been well received by the students, says Björn Nordgren, responsible for the program at SSHL. It has grown from fourteen participants the first year to twenty-five active students this year. The students are attracted by the good reputation of the program, and it is recognized worldwide. It’s also a personal challenge. You develop as an individual by completing the program, Björn continues.

What do you see as the main strength of the programme? 

– The students get to challenge themselves by setting goals through activities that they already enjoy or in something that they have always wanted to try. That way it doesn’t become too much of a burden – but it develops the student’s sense of commitment and of purpose.

– Hiking in the mountains for three days is not the easiest thing to do! But, this is an ambitious group of students. Besides, the mountains are incredibly beautiful and it is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. They faced the challenge in a great way and they had fun, Björn concludes.

Scroll down for more photos! 

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is an internationally renowned extracurricular programme for personal development. 

Other than planning and performing an expedition, the programme also requires the developing of knowledge and skills within a specific subject or area, developing physical capacity within a specific area and selflessly offering your time and help to others. 

Below: Filippa Samuelsson and Freya Briggs, IB DP24