By Koh Jia Ler
On 24th April, our Year 2 ventures went on their Pioneer Exploration Assessment (PEA) Hike. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the hike was cut down to a 16 km day hike. However, to ensure that the hike would truly challenge the ventures, orienteering skills like map sketch were more heavily emphasised than before.
Our ventures had trained rigorously for a month before the hike, practising their orienteering skills like navigation and map reading as well as route sketch, area survey and map sketch. They had the help of our experienced senior ventures and rovers to teach them the necessary skills in each aspect of the hike.
The Year 2 ventures diligently trained their fitness so that they would be physically fit for the hike. They had also gone on a mock hike together with the Year 1 ventures on 17th April in order to get a feel of how the PEA hike would be like.
Our ventures first started by plotting their route onto the topographical map, carefully choosing the best course towards their destinations. It was crucial that the route was chosen carefully to maximise efficiency and ensuring that they can stay oriented to the map at all times. They then set off at 8 a.m. to each of their checkpoints.
The weather was against them straight from the beginning as it rained heavily during the hike. However, even under the torrential downpour, our ventures pushed on towards their checkpoints. They had resolved their will to complete the hike and did not let the unexpected rain hinder their spirits and unstoppable progress.
The ventures had to accomplish 3 assessments during the hike.
Firstly, they had to complete a checkpoint map sketch at one of the designated checkpoints. A map sketch is a drawing of a 100m radius around a specified checkpoint and displays important information about the nearby features. From broad details like buildings to the most minute details such as lamp posts.
The second assessed skill was the area survey. An area survey is similar to a map sketch with the difference being a 1km by 1km grid instead of a 100m radius circle. This makes an area survey exponentially more demanding than a map sketch due to the increased area required to cover.
The ventures had little difficulties with these assessments as map sketch and area survey were some of their most practised orienteering skills.
Finally, there was also a 5km route map which our ventures had to draw. A route map is a sketch of the path taken from one checkpoint to another checkpoint. It should be detailed enough that others could use the map and reach the exact same checkpoint.
The route map is the most challenging part of the hike assessment as it requires multitasking, moving while taking note of the surroundings. Yet, this did not deter our ventures. They had already conditioned themselves intensively to be capable of such feats and were able to capture every crucial information needed without compromising their hiking speed.
In the end, our ventures successfully reached the end of the PEA Hike at the stipulated time of 5 p.m. They then submitted their initial map sketch, area survey, and route map to the examiner. Although rough and unpolished, they were sufficiently detailed to provide ample proof of the venture's thorough exploration of the areas.
Afterward, the ventures dedicated all their efforts to their last hurdle which was their hike log.
Firstly, they had to add in the photos of the landmarks and areas they visited near the checkpoints during the hike. Each picture was marked with a caption explaining the significance of the location in it which represents one of these 4 aspects: social, economical, environmental, or physical.
Then, they completed the final sketches of their map sketch, area survey, and route map based on the rough sketches they made during the hike itself. This was not an easy task as only the most detailed, precise, and organised sketches would be accepted. Therefore, the ventures pulled multiple all-nighters to ensure that the quality of their work is top-notch and nothing was being compromised.
The PEA Hike was a physically and mentally demanding test, challenging the skills, knowledge, fitness, and mental resilience of our ventures. However, through tough but fruitful training that prepared them mentally, physically, and skillwise, and the ability to adapt to any situation at hand, our Year 2 ventures were able to overcome all odds and achieve the high expectations they set out to attain as proven by their great performance.
Ultimately, the Year 2 ventures managed to conquer the PEA Hike, proving that they are adaptable and resilient against all difficulties faced. They have shown to be adept at orienteering and that there is nothing that Catholic High Ventures cannot achieve when they put their mind to it.