The President's Award at ISK: Summiting Mt. Suswa

The President's Award at ISK: Summiting Mt. Suswa
The President's Award at ISK: Summiting Mt. Suswa
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The President's Award (PA) is Kenya's own version of the Duke of Edinburgh Award where young adults have the opportunity to earn either a bronze, silver or gold award through the completion of service, skill development, physical recreation and an adventurous journey.

In just two short days and one overnight expedition, ten ISK adventurers and three teachers set out to summit Mt. Suswa. They included one middle school and nine high school students, all part of the President's Award club offered in the high school. The President's Award (PA) is Kenya's own version of the Duke of Edinburgh Award where young adults have the opportunity to earn either a bronze, silver or gold award through the completion of service, skill development, physical recreation and an adventurous journey. The adventurous journey gives PA students the opportunity to work collaboratively in the wilderness while also developing their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills while reinforcing their self-reliance, self-confidence and resilience. Groups travelled separately, using both map and compass to navigate to a base camp, adjusting for error and remaining positive, even when off track in the hot and dusty surroundings.

Participants were responsible for carrying their personal gear, food, shelters and enough water to sustain the initial seven-hour journey until a water resupply drop could be accessed. The rain was not an issue as the hikers set up and broke down their separate camps, cooked all their meals, cleaned all kitchen supplies and independently monitored first aid issues like hydration and foot care. Renson and John, our Savage Wilderness instructors, provided valuable trailside lessons about the people and vegetation of the Suswa area.

Sunday morning came early: 5:15 a.m. Oatmeal "soup" with softened apples and "crispy" sausages became the fuel for the five-hour summit push, led by students with occasional support from our Maasai guides Lasingo and Timothy, who knew every twist and turn through the low elevation brush. The two groups stopped periodically to take in the sights, reflect on their efforts and most of all: appreciate the beauty of Kenya that surrounds us but is often overlooked.

After returning to the base camp, eating lunch and making sure the area looked better than when we arrived, the PA group boarded the bus driven by Daniel, who surfed and skipped all of us and our gear trailer through sandy, rutted sections of the "road" leading out to Narok. We arrived back at ISK, ahead of schedule, and had the opportunity to debrief the expedition and explore how the lessons in self-sufficiency could be applied back to the classroom. Any student interested in the President's Award can email Mr McGarigal or Mr Pierce in the HS. Happy trails until our next wilderness journey!

Derek Pierce

Mark McGarigal

HS teachers and PA advisors