An intrepid 31 adventurers from the King's Sixth Form undertook a life-enhancing expedition to Borneo over their summer break.
There they came literally face-to-face with rescued orangutans and sun bears, climbed the 13,454 ft Mount Kinabalu and learned to scuba dive among the multi-coloured marine life. As well as developing their own leadership, teamworking and leadership skills, they undertook work to help local communities, cleaning beaches and renovating village facilities to help create a trekking route to generate a sustainable income for a remote village.
The three-week expedition was managed by King's Senior Science Teacher Dr. Becky Williams and was designed to reach the parts normal school holidays can't.
Becky said: "Although they had staff leaders and two specialists supporting them, this was very much a student-led trip with the young men and women researching and organising their own schedules.
"As well as opening their eyes to a completely different culture with problems and opportunities you simply will never see in the UK, it was about developing team-working and problem solving skills, alongside resilience."
With two leaders from the Outlook team, the 31 students and four staff split into two teams undertaking different activities. Highlights included visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Sunbear Conservation Centre in Sabah. These amazing facilities provide medical care for orphaned and confiscated orangutans and sun bears, the smallest bears in the world, and other species threatened by poaching, illegal pet trade and deforestation.
The trip was a matter of highs and lows. On a low level the teams learned to scuba dive in the warm equatorial waters and on the higher level, they climbed Mount Kinabalu, the third highest island mountain in the world on a grueling but breathtaking trek with overnight camping, part of a survival training experience.
The teams were also assigned to key community projects including cleaning beaches and renovating community buildings and facilities in remote villages. Dr Williams said "I was delighted that the students made this part of their trip an absolute priority, devoting more time in the schedule to community support than had originally been allocated, showing tenacity to finish projects for local communities."
She concluded: "We hope our young people will never forget this experience. I know they enjoyed contributing to the ongoing efforts to clean beaches of large quantities of plastic, renovating spaces for a community project, as well as developing their leadership and independence skills."
Pupil Thomas Krassowski said: "Taking this trip was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It really opened my eyes to other cultures around the world and connect with people I never knew I would be friends with. I have definitely made some memories that will last forever."
Pupil Neave Stanway added: "Borneo was without a doubt the best experience in my life. It was full of great laughs, new friendships, and new cultures. I really enjoyed the scuba diving - I found the underwater world such a magical place." Fellow pupil Annabel Hawkins added: "The trip was absolutely amazing. I really enjoyed experiencing a new culture, testing my limits, and helping a local community."
Pictured from left to right are Leah Shadwell, Lucy Bambrook, Ellie Shaw and Annie Smedley.