Students recently returned from a once in a lifetime trip to Tanzania.

The trip was a partnership between the school and Camps International, who offer school expeditions across Africa, Asia and South America.

The six Year 11 and 12 students, Jacob Harvey, Isobel Iles, Chloe Lane, Abigail Jordan, Grace Nichols and Alex Bevan, who are all between 16 and 18, raised their own airfare via sponsorship from local businesses.

This is the second time the school has taken pupils on a trip with Camps International, having been to Borneo two years previously.

Mrs Lucy Brooks, who teaches Geography, went along with the students and returned with them on August 19th.

The adventurers landed at Kilimanjaro Airport on the 24th of July and went straight out to the Moshi region, where they spent a few nights before heading over to Kenya, to a place called Tsavo.  There, the students helped build a primary school, and stayed for five nights.

The Smestow group was partnered with a group from Samuel Ryder Academy and the two schools formed team Nguru (kingfish) for the entire trip.

As well as helping to build the primary school the students also helped out with wildlife conservation, digging trenches to waterholes to attract animals and keep them from wandering too close to neighbouring villages.

After their time in Tsavo, pupils travelled back to Tanzania, where they were treated to an adventure holiday, with a day in the Tarangire National Park on safari followed by a trip to Tanga and a scuba course which helped them all achieve their Open Water Diver Qualifiaction.

Camps International prides itself on providing an experience which strikes a balance between community efforts, wildlife conservation and adventure elements, and the students thoroughly enjoyed it.

For their final week, the students returned to Moshi and assisted with building another primary school and other building products, where they learned to mix cement and helped plaster walls.

“We always reflect on what they’ve learned when we get back,” said Mrs Brooks, “and it amazes me how much they grow and develop, you really do see them change as people just from a month.  They’re more determined, more resilient and show more empathy and self-belief.”