AN ADVENTURE-seeker who has never left the country will experience more on his very first trip abroad then most have in a lifetime of travelling.
Ben Thurman, 15, of Pinehurst, has been selected over scores of his peers at Swindon Academy to join an expedition across Canada’s Rocky Mountains in August.
During the three-week trek, which will see him hike off trail alongside 14 other students from across the UK and North America, his stamina and endurance will be constantly tested.
His mental strength will also be challenged when he is left to survive in the wilderness on his own for a night.
Not expecting to be chosen over his schoolmates for the life-changing opportunity, Ben was stunned to discover on Wednesday he was one of just five British teenagers handpicked to travel nearly 5,000 miles to the American continent.
“I didn’t think I stood a chance of winning a place,” he said. “It is an amazing opportunity for me, as I haven’t done any of these activities. It will be great fun and an amazing experience.
“I do feel a bit nervous as I haven’t been abroad but it is a challenge that I’m really looking forward to. My parents are really excited for me too; my dad has travelled and says that it will be a really enjoyable experience.”
Ben started training a few months ago in case he was indeed selected, but he knows he has a long way to go to build his upper body strength and cope with carrying a 15kg load on his back at all times.
“Between now and August I will be in training to make sure that I am fit enough to cope with the activities that we will be doing,” he added. “I’ve already been doing some cardio in the school gym to be able to carry my bag and all the heavy equipment.
”They also said the weather could be very unpredictable - really cold one minute and the next really hot. But I can’t wait. I think it’s going to be life-changing.”
His headteacher Ruth Robinson said: “We are thrilled that Ben has been offered this opportunity.
“We interviewed the school’s candidates and Ben really shone. He is a hardworking and ambitious student who is determined to make the most of every opportunity. We are very grateful to our colleagues at Marlborough College who have worked with us to secure Ben’s place on the expedition.”
Ben has received a Stuart Horne Bursary, which will fund the Outward Bound expedition in August.
Stuart was born and raised in Shipley, Yorkshire. He was a young man with an adventurous and ambitious spirit, who moved to Canada, where he was educated and prospered.
He set up his bursary to provide adventurous and life-changing experiences to English teenagers who yearn to reach and accelerate their potential.