World Challenge Expedition Ecuador 2014

28 challengers and three staff from St. Mary’s Menston spent a month in Ecuador this summer, taking part in the school’s World Challenge Expedition

The Expedition consisted of three main sections.  The Challenge section involved trekking at high altitude in the Cotopaxi National Park.  One team went on to all conquer Ruminahui at an altitude of 4721m whilst the other attempted Cotopaxi itself at an imposing altitude of 5097m – even higher than Kilimanjaro! Weather conditions and refuge closures contributed to the fact that the summit had not been attained by any person for several weeks, yet the tenacity of the St. Mary’s team saw all breaking the 5000m barrier with four actually summiting. An amazing effort in testing conditions.

The Project phase involved each team living with a local indigenous Indian community in the Amazonia region of Ecuador. For a week, St. Mary’s students worked shoulder to shoulder with the locals to renovate and repair the facilities in the communities’ primary school and Day Care Centre. Lots of opportunities were taken to interact with the locals including cooking, sports and language lessons.

One phase involved a week visiting the Galapagos Islands. Students had the opportunity to learn about the rich biodiversity and unique nature which provided the inspiration for Darwin’s theory of evolution.  They also learned about the human impact on the islands from the times of the Pirates through the Spanish conquest up to the present day.

Throughout all phases, the challengers were expected to plan ahead all aspects of the expedition such as transport, accommodation and safety.  Equipment and provisions had to be bought and the students had to manage a budget and account for all spending.

All pupils and staff benefited from a highly successful and rewarding experience and will carry forward life lessons to draw on in the future.