4 January 2017
Twenty Abingdon students, accompanied by the Rev'd Gooding and Mr Fishpool, set off over the Christmas holiday on a truly memorable and unique Arctic Wilderness trip to northern Finland. The boys had the chance to learn various wilderness skills including: lighting fires on the snow (without matches and firelighters!), making (and sleeping in!) igloos, chopping wood for the sauna as well as learning to navigate through the boreal forest in the midwinter darkness. Boys also enjoyed playing a game which was a combination between cross-country skiing and rugby, ice climbing, snow-shoeing, visiting a golden eagle hide (and seeing two eagles), sledging and going to a reindeer farm to be pulled along by Rudolf! A particular highlight was the husky dog trip which led onto an elevated arctic plateau at sunrise with the boreal forest covered in snow all around. The wilderness was truly breathtaking; it was like being in a postcard expecting to see one of Santa's elves at any moment! The blue eyed husky dogs were very friendly and enjoyed pulling the boys across the frozen tundra of the arctic circle at considerable speed. The icing on the cake was experiencing the majestic northern lights near the end of the trip as the sky turned turquoise. To have lived in the arctic wilderness over midwinters day was a unique experience that will stay with the boys for a very long time. The students also came home talking more passionately about conservation issues and of the need to protect both the environment and the ancient culture of this beautiful part of the world.