JUST before Patrick Flinders headed out on the expedition to the Arctic Circle he and his father posted a short film on the internet to express his excitement over the ''fantastic'' trip.
The 16-year-old, like his friends, Horatio Chapple and Scott Smith, both 17, dreamed of experiencing raw nature and were particularly excited about seeing polar bears in their natural habitat.
However, it was the brutality of the wilderness they had to face after their group was attacked by the world's biggest land carnivore.
A 2.1-metre, 254-kilogram bear rampaged through their camp on Friday, ignoring traps designed to keep it at bay. By the time it was shot, Horatio, an Eton schoolboy, was dead and Patrick, from Jersey, and Scott along with their two guides were seriously injured.
Patrick survived by punching the bear repeatedly on the nose.
Police who arrived by helicopter found the group in shock, the bloody carcass of the bear still lying among the tents and the injured.
The injured have undergone surgery and are recovering in hospital.
The victims were part of a group of 80 that landed last month on the Norwegian arctic island of Spitsbergen, home to more than 3000 polar bears.
Michael Reid sustained injuries to his face and neck in the incident and remained in hospital today, along with fellow leader Andrew Ruck, 27, Patrick Flinders, 16, and Scott Bennell-Smith, 17, who also underwent treatment overnight.
Mr Ruck's and Mr Reid's injuries were described as severe, while Scott and Patrick sustained less serious injuries. All were stable after operations.
The five men and boys attacked were part of a group travelling on a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) expedition, which was camped on the Von Postbreen glacier near Longyearbyen on Svalbard, north of the Norwegian mainland.
Peter Reid described his shock when the BSES called him on Friday to inform him of the incident in which Horatio, from near Salisbury in Wiltshire, died.
"We were very anxious," he said. "We're upset, but there's a family in Wiltshire with a 17-year-old son who's been killed and we can't imagine the grief they're going through."
On hearing that his son had shot the bear, he felt a "mixture of anxiety and pride", he said.
His son, who lives in London and works as an events co-ordinator for the Royal Geographical Society, spoke warmly of Horatio in his email, he added.
Michael Reid described the schoolboy as "one of the best members of our group" and wrote "I am so devastated".
Hospital staff said it was hoped the survivors could be transferred to a hospital in the UK as soon as possible.
Jane Owen, the British ambassador to Norway, has visited the four survivors and said they were "all bearing up well".<
She said: "It's clearly a priority to get them home as soon as possible. They're receiving extremely good treatment here at the hospital in Tromso.
"We are working with the hospital authorities to establish when will be the right time to arrange for them to be medevaced (given a medical evacuation) back to the UK so that they can be with their families as they go through the recovery process.
"Our priority is obviously to support those involved and respect families' need for privacy at this very difficult time.