120 George Watson's College pupils have been rewarded for their conservation efforts with a John Muir Discovery Award. The awards were presented to them at the School on Monday 13 November by John Dunn, a wilderness explorer and photographer with a particular fascination for the Canadian Arctic.
For over 40 years, the School has sent its entire S3 year group on Projects where the emphasis has been on personal development through shared experience, and outdoor activities such as hillwalking, camping and kayaking.
Following discussions with the John Muir Trust, the UK's leading wild land conservation charity, it became apparent that the Trust's John Muir award could be integrated into Projects, to highlight the environmental dimension of these experiences, and the value of wild places as a place to learn.
David Pyper, Head of Geography, said, 'A large number of staff at Watson’s believe passionately about the value of wild places, and offer pupils a wide range of opportunities to extend their learning experience beyond the classroom. At Watson's, we have always stressed the importance of environmental awareness during S3 Projects and participation in the Award helps to emphasise this.'
The majority of those who completed the award identified the experience as having a significant impact on them. Some classified the affect as 'life changing'. For example, on completing a Project expedition, one pupil commented: 'In achieving the John Muir Award, our group has acquired a lifelong appreciation of our planet's wild places and a realisation that everyone should cherish them or they will disappear.'