By: Blonde Two
There can be no doubt that leading a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition is hard work but it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do outside. For this week’s Tuesday’s Ten we have some tips for DofE expedition leaders that might make the work less hard and the reward even more heart-warming.
- Plan as much as you can but don’t expect to cover all of the eventualities. The nature of the outdoors and young people means that DofE expeditions rarely end up running exactly as you expected them to.
- Do your essential training before the expedition but remember that the best learning happens whilst you are experiencing life outside.
- Be realistic about your expectations. If your youngsters haven’t camped/carried a rucksack/navigated before, they have a steep learning curve ahead of them.
- If possible don’t take a new group on a new route. Save your untested routes for groups you know well.
- Be prepared to learn as much as your youngsters. No matter how long you have been a DofE leader, you will learn something new on every expedition.
- Find the balance between strict (to ensure safety) and friendly (to ensure a good time). This isn’t always easy and may well be different for each group you take out.
- Look after yourself. A hungry/cold/over-tired DofE leader is not always going to be able to make the best decisions.
- Talk the big decisions over with a trusted colleague or friend but not too many people at once. You may end up sticking to your original plan but a bit of incisive input (or even just a hug) is always useful.
- Each night pack your rucksack for the next day and pack as though anything could happen… it probably will.
- Have some tissues in your pocket for that moment you see your team approaching the finish of a successful expedition… even if the tears are ones of relief you might not want them to be public.