WORLD CHALLENGE EXPEDITIONS AT LAWRENCE SHERIFF SCHOOL
APPLICATION: When an expedition is launched at Sheriff, it is open to those who are in Years 10, 11 and 12 at the time of launch (who will beY11, Y12/Y13 when on expedition).
HISTORY: Sheriff has a long history of taking successful World Challenge expeditions around the globe. Previous expeditions have been to Peru (2000), Canada (2002), India (2004), Tanzania (2006), Chile (2008), Nepal (2010), Uganda (2012),The Silk Route (2014), Myanmar (2016) and India (2018). Unfortunately, the expedition to Ecuador that the teams prepared for, for 18 months was cancelled due to Corona virus.
STAFF: The World Challenge expeditions are run through the Geography Department and lead by Miss Woolliscroft with the help of Mr Brown and Mr Littler.
COST: The expeditions are not cheap. They cost challengers several thousand pounds. The whole ethos of the trip however is that team members fundraise as much of the money as they can in the two years of build up before departure. Some enterprising and hardworking students will raise every penny themselves. Generally students manage to raise about 85% of the total. The challengers who raise the money individually get a lot more out of the experience.
FUNDRAISING: With help from World Challenge and the staff at school, students raise their money however they can; washing cars, packing bags at supermarkets, running quiz nights etc. Some hold down part-time jobs for the two years before going, others plan large one-off events. Some plan a careful mixture of both.
So are the World Challenge fundraisers in school paying for these boys ‘holidays’?
NO! This is a common misconception about school fundraisers. Any fundraisers that are run through the school (such as cake sales, discos and quiz nights) raise money for ‘team funds’. These are completely separate from the students’ personal fundraising which they do outside school. These group fundraisers raise money for taking out to spend on developmental projects in the developing world communities that we visit. For example, teams may decide to spend group funds on additional materials for use when we are painting a school; thus aiding both a local painting firm and the school.
Recent trip: SILK ROUTE 2014
An astonishing 65 students travelled to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan along the Silk Route in the summer of 2014. The students were split into 4 teams, lead by Mr Riley, Miss Handley & Miss Kelsey, Miss Bruce, and Miss Woolliscroft & Miss Burden for the month; we were joined by a World Challenge Leader and multiple guides throughout the experience. Treks completed by the teams included the Utichel Peak in Kyrgyzstan which reached an impressive 4500m, and 3300m up Chimgan. As the groups completed different itineraries, the achievements for the groups varied, although the accomplishments were equally substantial for each team. The projects included installing irrigation systems for local families and villages, and painting local school rooms. However, the fun didn’t stop there, rest and relaxation allowed students to visit Yurt Camps, Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent- fabulously beautiful Silk Route cities to experience cultural and architectural brilliance.
“World Challenge has changed me in every way; nowadays I'm more organised, more responsible for my own actions and able to be independent which I can put into whatever situation I'm in - be that at school or at home.”
“World Challenge was a life changing experience. Reaching the top of Utichel Peak (4500m) was an amazing accomplishment.”
During the expedition we visited countless amazing places but a highlight for the group was our visit to Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, which is a camp for retired logging elephants. We were presented with the opportunity to feed, wash and play with these magnificent creatures in an environment where it was clear they were truly cared for. This experience was closely followed by the beautiful sunsets and sunrises that were waiting for us in the picturesque plains of Bagan. Although it was quickly discovered that some members of the team certainly weren’t morning people, I believe I speak for everyone when I say that the early morning starts were certainly rewarded. The views we experienced were truly breathtaking and simply cannot be articulated.
Perhaps the most bizarre experience of the trip was the local’s incessant interest in our group. At large tourist attraction some members of the group would actually attract crowds asking for photos. When watching an international football game in Mandalay the entire group spent the best part of an hour taking photos and dancing with locals outside the stadium in a carnivalesque style atmosphere. It was a truly bizarre situation we found ourselves in but it goes without saying we reveled in the outpouring of attention we received.
The trekking phase along with the project introduced us to the working classes of Myanmar. In the trekking phase we stayed in mountainside monasteries and village farmhouses, which laid claim to stunning views and tranquility unlike anything I have experienced before. Everywhere we stayed our hosts treated us with unending kindness and affection, ensuring we were always without want. Our project phase was spent at the ‘Full Moon’ Orphanage just outside Yangon where we helped furnish and paint a girls dormitory that had been destroyed in a storm a few years previous. In addition we repainted their canteen and kitchen areas with the excess group funds we had raised. Throughout our stay with the community the team joined in with the children’s recreational activities, playing various games such as football, badminton, hop scotch and their traditional game chin-lo. The connection the our group made with the children was humbling and the last night proved quite emotional, as the children began to give personal gifts like their teddy bears and bracelets as parting gifts.
It is simply impossible to truly explain the life changing experience our team had on expedition and its certainly one that none of us will ever be able to forget. Our personal skills of organization, leadership and independence have improved greatly throughout the expedition and have left us well equipped for the challenges we shall face later in life. Although the most valuable benefit of this experience is the bond that was created within the team and the unforgettable memories we created.”
The expedition. What an experience! The month I spent in India was the best! As a group of 15 we were able to spend time with children local to Pangan, live for 13 days in the picturesque Himalayas with 4 expert guides, and then submerse ourselves into the rich Indian culture of Manali, Jaipur and Agra and explore ancient forts and of course the Taj Mahal. Whilst also learning how to cook traditional Indian dishes and learning a Bollywood style dance routine!
Our volunteering aspect was in a very small village called Pangan, a mountain based village near Manali with a population of only 600. Here we stayed at the primary school, where our focus was on redecorating two of the classrooms and the upstairs and downstairs exterior walls. We had early mornings, necessary to get the job done, but eased by the astounding views we would wake up to. On occasion we were awoken to a white canvas, and we discovered we were literally up in the clouds. Come lunchtime and dinner the playground would fill with the schoolchildren of the village and the other private school, and we would switch to play mode. Badminton, cricket, skipping and tag were all enjoyed by ourselves and the kids to pass the time and get involved.
The trek was gruelling, amazing and rewarding for all of the 13 days and I loved every minute of it. One day we would wake up to the sun glinting over the snow capped mountains, and others some would wake up to a moat encompassing the tent due to the perpetual rain that lasted about 5 days. In total we travelled 128km and climbed to a peak altitude of 5100 metres, passing through the Hampta Pass, and around the Chandra tal lake. The constant awe of green meadows, ice capped peaks, scree slopes and huge glaciers really made the many painful hours of walking bearable. My favourite part was the time you spend with the group as it's an amazing chance to really discover yourself and make lifelong friends including the guides who were especially hospitable and immersed us into the Indian cuisine. We tried new dishes such as paneer (cottage cheese), daal (lentils) , and gulab jamun (a sweet doughball-esque dessert), as well as the most beautiful tuna one could ever consume!
Rest and relaxation. The final week was an amazing end to a fantastic month, as we were able to celebrate a couple of birthdays, and explore the amazing history India had to offer. In Jaipur we were able to hone our dancing skills with a Bollywood routine, and then discover the city palace and ancient forts previously inhabited by the Maharaja (rulers). Along the way we visited the local bazaars to acquire some traditional garments, and were able to try delicious local street food. Speaking of food, we had an incredible evening with a local family who showed us some of their family recipes which tasted amazing!
All in all this was an experience I cannot really put into words, but one I will never forget. If any of this sounds even remotely interesting, I would really urge you to sign up to an unforgettable, life changing opportunity.
Unfortunately, the expedition to Ecuador was cancelled due to the Corona virus. It is important to note, however, that not all was lost. The challengers who had been preparing for this trip learnt a variety of vital life skills, as well as raising £1600 for charity. Due to their inability to spend this out on expedition, the challengers decided to split the money between ECHO Ecuador, Rainforest Alliance and NHS Charities Together. The School Leaders are immensely proud of the two teams, especially of the way they conducted themselves during these turbulent times. We hope that they are able to fulfil their travelling ambitions in the near future.
In preparation for the expedition, the groups usually travel to Snowdon in early September 2021 to practise key skills such as cooking on trangia’s, camping and safety processes that are necessary for the expedition. It is vital to remember that whilst the expedition is a fantastic opportunity; so many key organisational, personal and team work skills are learnt throughout the whole 18 months of planning and preparation. This is why many students, teachers, universities and employers recognise the significance of the expedition programme.
For more information, please see Miss Woolliscroft or visit