Talking All Things Duke of Edinburgh

Following a successful Silver open award last weekend, Dave Nolan at We are Adventurers talks all things Duke of Edinburgh (DofE)

In case you don’t know what the awards are, the DofE is for everyone aged 14-24, from any background, circumstance, culture or religion. In fact over 68,000 young people across the UK from a disadvantaged background did their DofE in 2018/19.

There are four different sections to complete at Bronze and Silver Award level and five at Gold Award level. The four sections for Bronze, Silver and Gold awards are: Volunteering, Skills, Physical and the Expedition. Meanwhile those that take the Gold award also have to complete a Residential section. 

With the Duke of Edinburgh season running from March until October – this will likely have been the last expedition for the year – and what a finale it was!

Five DofE participants put themselves forward for the expedition in the Peak District to complete their open Silver award.

Having already completed the Volunteering, Skills and Physical side of their Silver DofE award – they had just one more to complete – and pass – a three day expedition in order to receive their awards. 

During this part of the award the entrants had to take part in a trek or a walk, and then camp overnight for at least one night. The expeditions are all about camp craft, communication, working together, confidence and navigation. If an individual fails, the whole team fails. The point being that the group – whether they know each other or not – is to work together to navigate themselves through the walk, set up camp and complete the expedition. 

The Silver award requires participants to be out for a minimum of seven hours – four hours of walking and the rest setting up camp or cooking their food – this is where We Are Adventurers came in. 

This weekend’s group of three girls and two boys came up to the Peak District from Birmingham, Surrey and Lincolnshire. Two of them knew each other from school but the rest had only met over social media in preparation for the weekend.

They all came from different backgrounds – one was a farmer’s son, another has parents in the RAF, and another has just three other pupils in his class at school. So they were a really diverse group thrown together by the Duke of Edinburgh to sink or swim. 

They ended up being a great team – and did brilliantly well getting to know one another, bonding and working their way through the challenge together. 

Despite being the weekend my wife was due to have our baby – I set off for the Peak District hoping for the best – and with my mobile phone to hand!  

We met at Bamford train station on the Friday morning where we gave the guys their equipment before sitting them down with the assessor. He gave them a quick run through of the route and off they went to tackle the first section of the trek. 

The level of observation or assistance depends on the award. For the silver award at the weekend the assessor and myself kept a good distance away from the team, catching them at various points of the trek – and sometimes just observing through binoculars. 

They were an amazing group and found their way to the first campsite to set up for the Friday night. 

We were all up early the next day (still no baby thankfully) and off the group headed for the second day trek. Travelling around Edale the group navigated themselves to the next campsite leaving them ready to tackle the third and final days’ trek. 

The team bring their own food, having been introduced over social media beforehand so they are able to work out together how best to keep weight down with the items they choose. 

I’m pleased to say that this group passed. We haven’t yet received feedback from the assessor but they have been told they are now Silver Duke of Edinburgh award holders. 

Following a successful weekend it’s always good to hear from the parents as to how their sons or daughters enjoyed the day.

One parent summed it up perfectly…she said: “My daughter really enjoyed the DofE silver expedition weekend. Challenging but highly rewarding. Thanks again for arranging and also pickup and drop-off.”

Another said: “Our daughter had an amazing time and didn’t even mind the rain too much. Thank you very much for organizing it all so smoothly and for overseeing everything throughout the weekend.”

And the baby still hasn’t arrived… watch this space!