Achieving Excellence: PEA Hike 2020

By Avern Tan

Left to right:

1st row: Joash Cheng, Wong Zheng Tat, Alex Chien, Joel Lim

2nd row: Damien Kang, Michael Ooi, Avern Tan, Jann Lim


Know your enemy and know yourself, and you shall not fear the result of a thousand battles

~Sun Tzu

Setting foot on the journey towards the Pioneer Exploration Assessment Hike, the 8 Ventures knew that this was going to be a demanding challenge that would test our physicality, mental tenacity, and moral integrity. To conquer this battle, we would build up our endurance against various weathers and terrain, reinforce our orienteering skills, and learn new skills for this rendition of the hike. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the hike would begin and conclude at the participant’s house and would entail both a Route Map and Area Survey. Thus, in the 2 weeks leading up to the hike, we went for various hikes and training to familiarise ourselves with the island and develop our skills. During these arduous and intensive 2 weeks, we additionally submitted our Pre-Assessment Submission (PAS), a report to be filled with hike details, simulated diet plans and packing lists as the actual hike would only entail 6 hours.

This year, the hike was around mere 20km for most Ventures and consisted of 2 checkpoints of which we had to sketch the 1km by 1km grid of where the checkpoints are located. This was no easy task as the Area Survey was last done in 1994 and none of our seniors had any experience. As such, we had to refer to previously archived hike reports to gain our knowledge. Additionally, we had to take photos at these checkpoints, with ourselves in it, to represent 4 aspects of the location - physical, environmental, economical and social. We then had to write an explanation to justify why we had chosen each picture for each respective aspect. Going into a new environment is never easy and that is why we must always prepare for it. That is why we had intensively conditioned ourselves 2 weeks before the hike.

The hike was only 6 hours, and the requirements consist of a rough submission, photos with captions on the hike day, and a completed sketchbook by the next day. This required strategic foresight on our part, and upon reaching the endpoint at 2 pm, we submitted our rough sketches to the respective examiners. These were highly unpolished but sufficiently detailed to prove our thorough exploration of the checkpoint. Following this, we dedicated our efforts towards the photos, which required captions to explain the significance of specific landmarks and areas near the checkpoint. Finally, the last hurdle was the hike sketchbook.

Completing the sketchbook was no easy task as we demanded only the most detailed, neat and precise Area Surveys and Map sketches. We worked tirelessly through the night to submit the sketchbooks on time by 8 am the next day. After working through a physically intensive and demanding hike, we pushed ourselves to go beyond. By the end of it, we pulled all-nighters to ensure our work was up to the standard of a Catholic High Venture. The Pioneer Exploration Hike was physically and mentally demanding, especially with the various unfamiliar challenges we faced amidst the adjustments due to COVID-19. However, our prior training, preparation, and ability to adapt in the face of adversity, are the key factors that allowed us to come out victorious from the experience and achieve the high standards we set out to achieve, evidenced by stellar results.

Attached below are samples of Route Map and Area Survey completed on this hike: