Empowering Students Expedition - Vancouver Island Canada

Friday 27 January 2017

Last year Ark Boulton student Amna Khan, decided to embark on an adventure overseas in Vancouver, Canada.

“Amna applied for the Stuart Horne Bursary, which was launched to all year 11 students at the academy, to provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in an Outward Bound Canada Expedition in August 2016. After many applications and interviews, Amna was selected to go. She recently visited Ark Boulton, to discuss her adventure with us.”


Why did you apply for the expedition?

The reason why I applied was to experience something beyond my comfort zone, I wanted to break the barriers and challenge myself. When I saw this opportunity come up I had to apply.

What happened during your time there?

The journey started on the 1st August when I had to meet five other students for the first time at the airport to catch our flight. I had never been abroad without family before, so I was pretty nervous! I was shy to meet new people, but when we met, I realised we were all as nervous as each other and it felt easier to talk to each other.

The aim of the experience was to take part in a kayaking expedition around Vancouver Island. We had a map of where we needed to go, team leaders, and would camp overnight at various locations along our journey towards a huge mountain (which we would climb on the last day).

Kayaking was tough, as it took a lot of stamina and strength to maintain the rhythm and flow against the water. Day four was the hardest in my opinion, as we kayaked for about thirty minutes but made no progress in distance due to the heavy rain and winds! The one thing that kept us going was the support we gave each other in our teams. We pulled through.

Despite all that, seeing the beautiful scenery, and the wildlife made it all worthwhile. We saw a black bear at one point, and wolves howling at night! Seeing them in their natural habitat is so much more satisfying than in a zoo. At one point we met ‘Whale Watchers’ whilst out on the water who said they had heard of whales in this area – how exciting! Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to see any.

On the last day we trekked up a huge mountain, it took four hours! I was exhausted after one hour, but we took regular breaks and enjoyed the views as we went.

What was the best part of the trip?

The best part of the trip was trekking towards the waterfall. We had to go through a very narrow passage at one point, and a few of us got stuck! It was funny.

I loved making new friends. At first I was anxious about it all, but you don’t realise how close you get when you endure such challenging tasks together. After a few days, these students became my family in a way, especially when I got homesick sometimes. Everyone was really supportive. In fact, I’m still in touch with many of them today, both British and Canadian students.

What did you learn from this experience?

Now that I’m back, I’m more confident and believe I can do more. I discovered a lot about myself, such as my teamwork and leadership skills. They really developed. Also the compassion myself and others showed when team members found things difficult, we had to help each other to keep going.

I never knew how brave I was to face such daunting tasks! It was definitely worth it.

This has helped me with my confidence in making the move from year 11 to a sixth form also, which can be a scary step at the best of times. So to do this before college, during my summer break, was really helpful. I found it easier to talk to new people and make new friends at sixth form. I even joined a debating enrichment club!

What advice would you give to our current Ark Boulton students thinking of applying?

You have to have willingness to go for it! I had such a passion for exploration and an eagerness for a challenge, and this shone through at my interview for selection. The interviewers saw my passion for it.

Any unfamiliar territory seems big or scary at first, but you need to believe in yourself and you can accomplish great things, and you find it’s not as scary as it seems. If you want something in life you have to go get it!


Amna achieved 1 A, 4 B’s and 3 C’s at GCSE with us, and now attends Ark St Albans Sixth Form studying A Level Biology, Chemistry and Sociology. We are so proud of her achievements thus far and wish her all the best for her future aspirations and goals.