By: Blonde One

It didn’t take long at school for the word to get around that DofE was back on the radar. The students at this school need absolutely no encouragement to get themselves involved in the outdoors and were soon banging my door down to join me on some expeditions. I’m very pleased that 7 of these students have signed themselves up for doing their Gold DofE. This is no mean feat as I’m sure you will remember from previous blog posts. To achieve the prestigious Gold Award you must carry out your activities for 18 months and 12 months, and you must complete a very demanding expedition programme. There are a minimum of two expeditions: practice and qualifying, and various training sessions. The expeditions last for four days and three nights with the participants being completely self sufficient. If you’re new to DofE you might think that that just means they’re left alone for the duration of the trip, but no, self sufficient means that the team will carry everything that they need for the four days, as well as being independent of staff. That includes accommodation, food and clothing. The only thing they are allowed to acquire along the way is water, and that’s only if they don’t buy it.

I had the pleasure of taking these 7 youngsters out onto Dartmoor recently to put them through their paces in terms of navigation. I wanted to see for myself if they were as good as others had said they were. I was not disappointed! As well as witnessing some great skills, I was also able to teach them some new ones. They soaked up the new learning with relish and were keen and enthusiastic to learn more. The day was challenging: we had very hot weather, some incredibly long and steep climbs, and we had some testing terrain. Despite, or perhaps because, of this we returned to the minibus jubilant. So jubilant in fact, that we celebrated with an ice cream!

As with other Gold groups I explained to these 7 youngsters that they were the elite of the youth population, as understandably it is only a very small percentage of people that achieve this Award. I could see their shoulders square at this and I witnessed a slight change of expression on their faces. I think they have the courage and resilience to take this on!