This time last year I was issuing kit to our largest ever Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Group before their expedition. There was a lot of competition for the newest stuff as well as for the rucksacks that matched their waterproofs. They all wanted the basic, easy-to-put-up tents, and the trangias without fiddly extra bits…

One year on, and those that went on to make our biggest ever Silver Duke of Edinburgh Group have learnt a lot. Now they want individual rucksacks depending on what they use – so I found one with large outside pockets for the boy who likes to use an old-fashioned metal water bottle and one with a back insert for the girl who prefers a hydration system. This time they squabbled over bags that had extra straps for fixing roll-mats and sleeping bags to the top/bottom of bags or which had side pockets, or clips for walking poles. Last year they just stuffed everything inside the bags! Some of the group like trangias with kettles (we have at least four tea drinkers) and some like them with strainers – and they have favourite tents. Not just the type, but the individual tent, as in “Can I have tent 4? I always have tent 4, it’s the best one.” Even although tent 4 is identical to tents 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. Two of the girliest girls (that was said affectionately) actually want the tent that everyone else finds too hard to put up – and they nearly always have the tent up and the tea on before anyone else!

I discovered recently that one of this group even goes so far as to hide his rucksack, by putting it on the furthest away peg underneath the oldest two or three bags that are seldom used. I only found it because I was stock-checking the kit, and I couldn’t work out how it had got there. Extreme, I think.

I’m quite looking forward to fitting out the (slightly smaller this year) Bronze group, who will only care whether they get their favourite colour!

Expedition starts on Thursday evening – they have all been told to bring waterproofs, suncream and midge nets. Hopefully we will all survive…

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