Two of our most popular Outdoor Education programmes are the Duke of Edinburgh's (DofE) Award scheme and the Combined Cadet Force (CCF).
Dozens of girls complete the Bronze DofE Award each year and we are pleased that some progress all the way to achieve the prestigious Gold Award. Practice expeditions take place in the School grounds as well as further afield to locations including Wales and the Lake District.
We are one of the few girls' schools in the UK to run a CCF contingent, which we offer in collaboration with The John Wallis Church of England Academy. CCF is a nationwide movement, run in a partnership between the Ministry of Defence and schools, which gives young people aged 13 to 18 the chance to develop personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline through a military approach. A popular option at Benenden, it involves girls learning practical skills, taking part in drills and representing the School in village events, most notably on Remembrance Sunday.
We are fortunate at Benenden to operate on a site of 250 acres, which offers plenty of opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. For example, we have installed a trim trail, featuring a dozen pieces of outdoor fitness equipment on a route around the site, and the firepit in the woods is a popular location for House gatherings, especially when accompanied by hot chocolate and s'mores!
There are a series of running routes through Benenden's woodland and girls are given the opportunity to explore parts of the site that are usually out of bounds during the annual Tough Mudder – a cross-country race involving challenging obstacles, tough terrain, negotiating the lake and plenty of mud!
Girls are also able to camp out in the woods and learn bushcraft skills, while undoubtedly the most eye-catching of Benenden's outdoor resources, the stunning eco-classroom, enables us to give girls hands-on education about nature, both through academic lessons and through the optional Outdoor Education programme. This facility has also allowed pupils to establish a gardening club, in which they are planting an orchard and creating planting boxes out of pallets.
Other Outdoor Education pursuits available at Benenden include sailing, kayaking, climbing and much more.