STONEHAVEN girl, Julie Whyte, has just returned from a memorable experience in Tanzania with the World Challenge Expedition.
Julie (16), from East Carmont, who is in sixth year at Mackie Academy, spent a month in the East African country, during which time she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
The expedition to Tanzania was made up of young people aged 15-18 from all over the UK, with Julie the only Scot.
Julie and her group worked in a primary school during which time they helped build a new classroom.
Julie says it was a busy schedule but a tremendous experience. After the school day, the students, who were aged 4-13 were able to play football and other games with their visitors.
By going on the World Challenge Expedition, Julie was following a family tradition as her sister Carole, now 24 and her brother Alan (20), both went on the expedition when they were in sixth year.
Julie paid the cost of her trip herself, raising the £3,325 required in the months leading up to her departure.
To raise cash, Julie did a variety of fundraising things, including an abseil down the Titan Crane at Clydebank and a bagpack at Sainsburys.
The Earl of Kintore Trust made a substantial donation as did Stonehaven Lions Club and Julie was also able to sell a voucher donated by Bedlam Paintball.
With the challenge now over, Julie has expressed sincere thanks to all her sponsors.
The gruelling climb of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak was the highlight of Julie’s stay.
It took five days to climb up, sleeping in strategically placed huts each night and one day to come down.
Julie says: “I was ok until the last night. We got up at midnight when the temperature was minus double figures and we climbed until we got to Uhuru Peak at 8am.
“This was so we could see the sunrise from the top of the mountain.”
Of the ten young people in Julie’s party, six made it to the top, but four had to quit because of altitude sickness and go back down.
For reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, 5,895m above sea level, Julie was rewarded with a certificate.
During the climb, Julie and party planted 250 trees on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. This was in an effort to repair the damage caused by deforestation.
Julie is working towards her silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and on her first weekend home, was off doing the expedition element of the award, which comprised a three day hike, camping out for two nights along the way.
The other elements of the silver award have been volunteering for six months and learning a new skill and a new sport.
Julie plans to move on to earn a gold Duke of Edinburgh Award in the coming year, but with the climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro under her belt, the gold level expedition is already taken care of.