Girl waving whilst heading off with friends on Duke of Edinburgh's award expedition

Duke of Edinburgh's Award: Stepping out of your comfort zone

3rd August 2021

We caught up with Year 12 students Darshni and Mia, who have just completed their Silver Award, and who explained exactly why DofE is such a valuable experience.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is something that we will never forget. It is a fun journey that helps you form a closer relationship with friends, building confidence along the way. The programme helps you gain essential skills and qualities that future employers look for, such as critical thinking, leadership and problem-solving skills. Not only does it help with job applications, it also enhances your CV and UCAS personal statement for university, making you a more rounded candidate.

The DofE Award is split up into 4 categories: volunteering, skills, physical and the expedition. You are given freedom when choosing volunteering, skills and physical - as long as it fits within the regulations, the choice is yours. This means you can help out in your local area or wherever you want! It gives you control on what YOU want to do, allowing you to make independent decisions. Through volunteering, you are able to make a difference in people's lives, as well as giving you the soft skills that many employers look for. Through our volunteering, we have met new people and made many new connections that will help us in the future. The skills section of the Award helps you develop organisational skills and shows you how to set and achieve goals, furthermore it makes you discover your own unique potential. The physical section is incredibly important because it helps prepare you for the actual expedition. 

Prior to the expedition, your group will be given the task of planning the route you will walk. You will be given a start and an end point and the rest is yours to figure out. This takes initiative and teamwork skills as the route must fit in with the amount you need to walk, for example for the Bronze Award this would be 12 kilometres per day on average. Once you have completed your route it will get checked by teachers to ensure accuracy and make sure you are on the right track.

“Walking 12 kilometres per day may seem daunting at first, but remember DofE is a challenge of endurance and resilience, showing that you are willing to push yourself further than you would normally”

The expedition gives you endurance skills that teach you no matter how hard the situation is, you have to challenge yourself and ultimately you will get to your end goal. Endurance is something which is difficult for everybody and on our recent expedition we felt as though we pushed ourselves harder than we ever thought was possible. We surprised ourselves, which is the most important aspect as it shows you are capable of more than you think. For our recent Silver DofE expedition, we completed three days of walking in the Peak District, with two nights of camping. This involved walking 19 kilometres per day, which seems like a lot, however in reality when you are with your friends, singing songs and playing games, time passes a lot quicker than expected and helps you stay motivated. We would say that positivity is extremely important when trying to keep morale up within the group.

Team building is something that DofE definitely teaches you. In order to successfully complete the expedition, you must collaborate. You learn to listen to everyone and make sure your point is heard. You want to make sure that everybody in the group feels appreciated, which all links to the positivity and motivation of the group. DofE is not easy and requires commitment, however if you are determined and good spirited enough, you will get there! We never saw ourselves doing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Year 8, however once some of our friends seemed to be interested in it, we both decided it would be a good thing to do. Now we have completed our Bronze and Silver Awards and are hopeful to complete Gold next year. This experience has brought us closer together as friends and created fun memories that we will never forget.

In some ways the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is much like a holiday with friends. Away from home and family, DofE gives you a change in scenery, but with the added opportunity of getting out of your comfort zone and achieving more than you might have thought possible.

“And when you get a chance like this, we would say grab it with both hands and see what you are capable of!”

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