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Duke of Edinburgh award was compulsory at my old school in year 11, every student was entered into bronze level. You could opt out of it, but you were made to do boring things instead, so reluctantly I decided to do it, I am so glad I did as it was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. The duke of Edinburgh award is basically a long walk, camping and then another long walk. I will explain how it works in more detail later in the review. I personally do not know a lot about why the award itself, but I have completed it so I will give my opinions on the award and what I learnt from it! How does it work? You are put into groups of around 6 or 7 of your own choice. You are then given a place to get to and given a map and a few essential tools such as a compass and cooking essentials for when you get to you're camp. Before setting off we were told to plan a route on the map and this was checked by the moderators. Our walk was just over 13 miles which was very long, and this was just the first day! The second day was a little less miles but still a fair way to travel. There are three awards, bronze silver and gold. Bronze you take part in over 2 days, silver 3 and gold I believe is 5. The bad bits: The worst thing I found was carrying a ruck sack for 2 days becomes tiring, I really overpacked on clothes and food and was carrying way too much on my back! I had a very bad back. Also the camping over night is very painfull as you only carry a sleeping bag! I much prefer camping with a blow up air bed!! You will also become very hungry. I can't complain too much though as this was only the bronze level, I can imagine you would be shattered if you were attempting the gold level. The good bits: This really taught me a lot! I became much better friends with the people in my group, you bond brilliantly as you all work as a team and spend Nearly 2 days constantly with each other. My map reading skills got much better and I learnt how to read maps and fend for myself! I did this nealy 7 years ago, but I can still remember all the laughs and difficulties! It's something that will stick with you for ever. It's essential life skills that you don't realise that your learning when you do it. This also looks great on your cv! It helped me with interviews for jobs and got me Uncas Points when applying for uni. There are far more good bits then bad! The worst part is filling out the log book at the end, this takes ages and you must get lots of signitures from various members of staff! Overall: This really helped me with many things and has benefited me and looks great on my cv. I wish I had carried on and done the other levels when I was younger and had the opportunity to. I would recommend you make your kids do this as they will learn essential life skills! This gets 5 stars from me! Fantastic :) Josh
The Duke of Edinburgh Award was something that was seen as very prestigious and an honour to be involved in at my secondary school. I began working on my 'Silver' award during my tenth year if my memory serves me correctly and I can remember thinking that although it was a great thing to be a part of it was very time consuming and took up a lot of time in the evenings which meant that I had to make extra time to do homework, corsework and other after school activities. I would definately recommend the scheme to anybody who is interested in participating as you learn some valuable life experiences and will make some good friends. The award was first piloted by Prince Philip in 1956 and has since expanded into what we know it as today, a scheme which enables over 200,000 persons between the age of 14 and 24 to participate every year. It takes between one and three years to complete, depending upon which route a particpant chooses to take ofcourse. There are three different awards, Bronze, Silver and Gold and although similar they differ slightly and are harder as you progress as I'm sure you can imagine by the titles! Basically, there are five different areas in which a participant has to work at - four if you are doing the Bronze and Silver awards and the amount of time you spend on each increases with each award and so to does the standard you have to achieve at each. The five areas of experience are: VOLUNTEERING - Offering your services in someway to individuals within the community. Examples of this would include helping children with special needs, conservation work or caring for animals etc. PHYSICAL - Improving yourself in an area of sport, dance or physical fitness. SKILLS - Enhancing your social and practical skills and expanding personal interests. Examples of this include podcasting, painting, DJing or driving etc. EXPEDITION - The best bit in my opinnion. Undertaking an adventurous and challenging journey in the UK or abroad. From the planning stage to the training stage and eventually full completion of the expedition. Maybe you could sail down the Norfolk Broads or hike up into the Brecon Beacons? RESIDENTIAL - This is the area which distinguishes the different awards as only the Gold award participants have to undergo this pleasure. You have to spend at least five days and four nights away from home with people you have never met. The incentives to undergo the award are huge because it is honorable and looks great on CV's or university application forms etc. Plus if you complete the Gold award you are invited to one of the royal palaces and will receive your award in the presence of either HRH Duke of Edinburgh or HRH Earl of Wessex. I found the award fantastic fun and challenging at the same time because you have to do a number of tasks which put you outside of your comfort zone, especially if undertaken an early age. This is the reason why I think all tasks must be sucessfully completed before paraticipants 25th birthday. One last thing. For a participation place on an award you have to pay a fee. This is £12.00 for the Bronze and Silver Awards and £18.00 for the Gold Award. For more information you can visit www.dofe.org. Celebrity adventurer and fellow former student at the University of Portsmouth Ben Fogle writes on there as he too undertook the D of E challenge and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment. Beanie8844.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is something that is well-worth doing and will stay with you for life. Not only is it an excellent achievement but a great experience too, which I think the award tries to elicit. You can do a bronze, silver or gold award, or all three! Some people tend to start on the silver award, but you cannot do the gold without having done the silver - some people tend to skip out the bronze though. It's as if one award higher will rule out the one below. Each award consists of three sections: a skill, a physical activity and some volunteer work. This is in addition to the trek, which you must complete for each award and is of according difficulty. The skills can take shape in any form, but there is a list in the book you receive upon initiation. Skills can include those from categories such as music, science and technology, care of animals, perfomance arts, media and communcation and life skills. There really are loads of things you can choose for this! I think I decided to construct a model car for mine. The physical activity can be anything from running and swimming to basketball, paragliding or something else! Some of the things you will do can overlap between categories, and from what I've seen; you are allowed to let a skill cover two categories that must be completed. There is also volunteer work to be done, which can be done anywhere from somewhere like Oxfam to a care home. All of this takes quite a bit of commitment but it's well worth doing! The trek was probably the most fun. They become increasingly difficult through the awards - the gold one will have to be completed in harsher conditions and for a lengthier period of time, whereas the bronze is a lot more straight forward for just one night. You must use orienteering skills and perseverance to trek long distances meeting checkpoints on the way. You must complete the award with a club or something, so there will always be hosts on the trek to make sure you're on the right track. You also need supervisors to sign your book for each category so you can't just cheat your way through and pretend you've been flying a plane for the last month when you weren't! Overall it's a great award to do and I'd definitely recommend it. It' takes a bit of commitment, but once it's done you've got the award for life and I'm sure it's looked upon very highly by employers and so forth. Thanks for reading! :)
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a scheme for young people to challenge them and test their teamwork, perserverance and confidence. There are three levels of the award to complete; Bronze, Silver, and finally, Gold. Many people say that the Duke of Edinburgh Award is highly respected, particularly at Gold level. It is true that employers and universities for example regard it very highly, it really demonstrates your commitment and gives you that bit of an edge! I missed out the Bronze award, being a lazy 13 year old it seemed irrelevant and honestly, far too much effort to bother with. It was only after hearing my friends talk about how much fun they had had on expeditions that I decided to do the Silver award. After completing this I was very eager to reach the top level, Gold. The Gold Award comprises of five sections, unlike the others which have four. One of these sections is Skills. For this you need to spend at least one hour a week learning a new skill, for either 6 or 12 months (if you have completed Silver) or 6 or 18 months (if you didn't do Silver). To complete this section I decided to take up guitar lessons. Without this award, I probably would never have gotten into music but 2 years on, I love my guitar, and am so glad I got the motivation to take up an instrument! Many others decide to use driving lessons to complete their skills section, other instruments or crafts. The next section is Volunteering, which you must do for 6 months if you did 12 months of skills, or 12 months if you did 6 months of skills. If you didn't do Silver and didn't spend 18 months on skills, you must spend 18 months on volunteering. Being a keen animal lover, I decided to ask the local Cats Protection if they wanted help. Of course they were more than willing to kit me out with a plastic apron, rubber gloves and a cloth to start cleaning pens! However, it wasn't all cleaning pens and shovelling poo. I met some wonderful people there, and eventually fell in love with a cat that I just had to take home! Although I have completed the award, I'm not ready to leave the pens of kittens just yet, so have carried on the voluntary work One of the most difficult parts to arrange is the Residential. This involves spending 4 nights away from home with -the key part- people you have never met! This was the most daunting for me, as I was quite comfortable with my routine of visiting cats and playing guitar. I eventually plucked up the courage to apply for a Cathedral Camp- spending a week at Gloucester Cathedral painting benches, cleaning turrets and polishing silver. Many of the others there were doing it for D of E too. We all became great friends and I'm still in touch with my good friends from Russia, Spain and Germany! Now here's the most exciting, and the most daunting part. The Expedition. My group decided to do ours in Snowdonia in Wales. We spend many days and a weekend practicing our navigating, pitching, cooking and teamwork skills before we headed off. To say the least, we could not have had worse weather. It rained literally all day, every day for 4 days. I can tell you, walking 50km in wet boots is a nightmare. The first night, it rained so hard our camping stove would not light, so we cooked in the camp toilets. On the second, we were found by our leaders at around 8pm and told to stop right there, on the side of the hill, and pitch our tents immediately. No campsite, no toilet, no clean water. Just a stream and sterilising tablets. It might sound horrific, but we had a fantastic, gruelling, stressful and incredible time! Our team really glued together when it became difficult, and I will have those skills with me for life. Yes, it was difficult at the time, but now when we look back on it, we can only laugh at the situations we ended up in. The Duke of Edinburgh Gold award requires a lot of commitment, willpower and determination to complete. It is more than worth it just for the fantastic memories and friends which you may have for life. It isn't for everyone, but if you're unsure, have a go at Bronze, and work your way up!
I completed the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, and it's an excellent extracurricular activity to have on your CV. You can take the bronze award followed by the silver and gold ones, which are harder and require more devotion and perseverance. I completed the bronze award years ago whilst I did my GCSEs. There are four sections of the award: - Expedition - Skill - Service - Physical Recreation For the expedition, I went on a trek in unfamiliar territory and had to guide to a campsite with a map, compass and other equipment. We had to carry all our gear with us in camping bags such as our sleeping mats, sleeping bags, food and other equipment. The trek was quite long and lasted two days (over night). It was a challenge at times navigating to the various checkpoints and we got lost at points or ended up walking through painful fields but it was lots of fun too in a group! For the skill, I put together and painted a model car (Subaru Impreza) from a kit. You can do loads of things from egg painting to bee keeping, billiards, bird watching, amateur radio, basket making, knitting, kite, languages, dogs, darts, reptiles, religion, leatherwork and so much more - a very random mix. For the service, I worked in Oxfam on a voluntary basis but you can also do things such as animal welfare, childcare, coastguard, lifeboat, marine society and sea cadets and youth work. For the physical recreation part, I did cross country at my school as I was part of the team too. The award requires dedication, organisation and perseverance. You need to devote yourself to doing a service every now and then and keeping up with your skill and physical work. You also need to get through the somewhat challenging expedition. You can go by foot, cycle, canoe or horse in the gold award but not all these options are available in the bronze award. The later awards are harder as you need to do each section for a longer and more intense period of time and the expedition is a lot more tough - even in another country with extreme conditions such as a dessert or rainforest for the gold award. It's well-worth doing as it's highly recognised and respected and is an excellent addition to any CV. Thanks for reading, Dan ©
The Duke of Edinburgh Award (or D of E to be short) has to be the hardest, most challenging thing that I have ever done! Yet every picture that my friends have of me, I have a huge smile on my face. So I'm going to tell you why D of E is a must! Firstly you get to see the countryside, which for some people in this urbanising country, might not have seen, ever! Not only do you get to see it, you get to understand why people say that the countryside it beautiful. You are given a countryside code of conduct book to make sure that you dont let anything go wrong when your out and about which keeps the land as you see it. Having had a few lessons in map reading, your basically left to follow a planned route on your map which is trickier than expected. You will get lost at least once but that adds to the trip. And after a night of camping with your mates, you dont realise how much you smell! But seriously, you will get annoyed with someone in the group, and you will get tired and realise your feet have a blister or two. But you get a badge at the end with a certificate and when you get a gold D of E, you are given the chance to go and recieve your award from the Duke!
Packing Your Rucksack There are a few guidelines you'll need to know if you're doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award, follow these tips and your expedition will be much easier. Pack your rucksack in reverse order - Last in means First Out! It is important that your rucksack is packed correctly fitted to ensure it is comfortable to carry and neither it nor its contents get damaged (or you) 1. Pack your sleeping bag sideways across the bottom of the rucksack - this forms a solid base on which to pack and avoids having to remove the sleeping bag every time something is required during the day. It may be a tight fit and require some effort, but it's well worthwhile in terms of comfort and convenience. Try to buy a sleeping bag which is both lightweight and small. As long as you can fit in it size is not important. 2. Heavy items are best packed high and close to the back except in rough terrain where heavy items should be kept lower to make the pack more stable. For example, gas burners, pans, and water flasks should be placed at the top with clothes and food further down the bag- the opposite should apply with rough uphill terrain. 3. Make sure you balance the weight evenly so one shoulder is not strained more than the other - if your pack has side pockets, be careful not to load them unevenly by, for instance, putting all your water bottles in one pocket. 4. Sharp objects like knives pressing through the back of the pack will be very uncomfortable very quickly. To avoid this make sure you pack any knifes, forks etc with the food or in between clothes. 5. Jumper, lunch items, waterproofs, and your first aid kit should be packed near the top so that they can be got at without unpacking everything else. Your water bottle should also be packed near the top for ease of getting at it. However I would also advice tying your bottle around your neck, or placing it in one of your bags side pockets. 6. Internal framed packs are designed to move with your body. Proper packing is required to get the most comfort out of the contoured pack shape. 7. Use dehydrated food, as it weighs much less, and go for food which cooks fast (less than 10 minutes). This way you save fuel so you won't need to carry as much. Look for high carbohydrates stodge- you'll need double your usual calories. (also on helium as jac22)
During the topsy turvy time of one's adolcescent teenage years, a complication to be chucked in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. It is a scheme for school pupils, and for people up to the age of 25 (the cut off point), which challenges various aspects of your character. Basically, you do what you are told to, and at the end you get a certificate, and can put it on your university application. So what do you have to do? The award focuses on three main areas. These are skill, service and physical activity. There are three levels available - bronze, silver and gold. Bronze takes a minimum of six months to complete, silver twelve and gold eighteen (months). If you have already done one and wish to move up, the time periods are decreased. Those three areas, then. Take the bronze award, for example. You are required to do each area for three months, one hour a week, and then a further three months on one of your choice. So, for silver, six months of each and a further six of one. So, what can you have to do for each one? Skill. There are almost unlimited possibilities for this. Here are a few. Candlemaking, car maintenance, chess, circus skills, collecting coins (yes, it counts!), go karting, marksmanship, pottery, rug making, wine making, woodwork. Loads. Personally, I play the violin in an orchestra each week. This is an easy section to carry out. Service. The possibilities for this are divided into categories. Helping people in the community, emergency services, environmental service, fundraising, rescue service and safety training. This area is designed to make you feel you are contributing to your local region, or the community as a whole. Physical recreation. Easy. Sport. Archery, climbing, cricket, fencing, football, judo, netball, rugby, skiing, swimming, ultimate frisbee (yes!), weightlifting, yoga. Again, very easy. I play golf. This allows three hour slots at atime, so it is only necessary to play once every three weeks to fu lfil the criteria. There is one further part of the award. Expeditions. Two practices, then the assessed walk. This is like camping. You walk in groups, for six - eight hours a day, then set up a tent, cook food on a tiny stove, then sleep. You wake up, cook again, pack up and walk again. The length of each expedition varies between bronze, silver and gold, but they are between two and five days. The main thing is that you are self dependant. You carry what you need. You must plan your route, and there are checkpoints where teachers may or may not turn up to make sure you are on track and not dead. That is just about it. You take time to complete the various sections, and the person responsible for you at each activity signs a book to prove you have been there. Then you go walking. Finally, is it worth the effort. Having just got back from and recovered from one such expedition, I am tempted to say no. But I really feel it shows commendable qualities in a person. It looks great on university applications. And really, it is a bit of a laugh. Okay, my feet are sore, I got no sleep in my tent and aching shoulders from carrying my rucksack. But how pleased was I with myself when it was finished. Give it a go.
I am tired. No. Wait. Make that physically incapable of doing anything. Except typing. I am completely incapacitated for I have just been walking for two days solid. It all started several months back…… “…And finally those wanting to do the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme at Gold level please go to …….” “Duke of Ed, eh? Sounds like a good idea”, I thought. So, off I toddled to a meeting about doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme at Gold level, and lo and behold, other people out there had thought the same thoughts as me. These meetings consisted of an instructor discussing with us what the Duke of Edinburgh scheme involves and what its merits were. And as soon as some heard what Duke of Edinburgh involved, those same people were never seen at another meeting again. Lazy buggers. But anyway, here’s what it involves and so forth… Depending on what level you enter Duke of Edinburgh at, Bronze, Silver or Gold, you have to achieve certain tasks. At each level you have four main sections to complete which are Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and Expedition. Service involves the encouragement of service to individuals and to the community. This can be a whole load of things like helping out at day care centers (crèches), helping out at sport clubs or a course in first aid for example. The section on Skills is to participate or develop a personal interest. Think “hobbies”. Anything like archery, hand-bell ringing, playing an instrument or taxidermy (if you’re that way inclined). Physical Recreation is hopefully self-explanatory, but if you’ve never shifted your rear end away from a computer, let alone see the sun outside, physical recreation involves “exercise”. Pick a sport. Any sport. Lacrosse is in there, though that’s debatable. So we come to the Expedition section. This is the part that most people probabl y think of when they think of Duke of Edinburgh. Or I’m wrong and all you people are thinking “silly buggers” instead. So what is it, eh? Expedition involves travelling. Looooooots of travelling. You can walk it, cycle it, horse ride it, canoe it, row it, sail it and maybe, just maybe, unicycle it. The majority of crazy fools will take the walking or hiking option, mainly because it’s a sight damn cheaper, you don’t have to travel as far unlike the other modes of transport and you needn’t worry where you park your rucksack. Bronze level will make you do a piss easy fifteen-mile walk over two days (or twenty-four kilometers for the metric people out there. Silver will make you walk thirty miles of forty-eight kilometers over three days. And the grandaddy of them all, Gold, will make you do fifty miles or eighty kilometers over four days of hiking. I’ll come back to the expedition later, this may take some time. Not that I’m trying to bore you or anything. I’ll be blunt about how long you have to do each section for. At Bronze level, you can do all the sections (apart from expedition) for three months, though one must be sixth months. At Silver level, you must do two sections at six months and one month at three. That is of course, if you’ve done bronze before hand. If you haven’t done bronze and do Silver, you are a direct entrant. You must do an additional six months to one of the longer sections, making a total of twelve for direct entrants. Finally for Gold you must do one at six months and two at twelve months, direct entrants tag on another six months to either service (which must be twelve months) or another section that is at twelve months, it’s your choice. To begin Bronze you can start at 14 years, Silver is 15 and Gold is for the 16-year-olds. All this must be done before your twenty fifth birthday. There, I managed to condense the entire course into one paragraph. That’s what you think. For those super-humans at gold level (like me) they must complete a “Residential Project” in addition to the four sections. Basically, to quote the award book itself, you “Undertake a shared activity in a residential setting away from for 5 days and 4 nights”. All you do is go away somewhere for five days and return and claim that you’ve been there. Can’t be a family holiday though so that’s not good thinking Batman. Now unless you haven’t cottoned on to why I’m writing this, I actually do this scheme. I have been doing it for the past few months, since October of 2001, though I didn’t begin my sections until February this year. And I can tell you super people what I’m doing. For service I help out at a sculling club (like rowing only you get two oars) and I’m doing that for eighteen months, because I’m a direct entrant. I teach people how to scull or help with the general upkeep of the club. In regards to Physical Recreation, I attend a gym and will do for the twelve-month period. Actually I’ve improved greatly since attending the gym as I have lost weight and increased my fitness. Only marginally but every little helps. Skills I have yet to sort out, but you can mix and match skills and seeing as I’m only doing six months of it, I’m guessing I’ll do driving lessons as well as other things, like piano playing. Oh forgot to mention that with each section, you must do an hour each week so one “month” is four hours worth minimum. For my Residential Project I’ve been a sneaky little so-and-so and already completed it. Did it last summer where I went to Moscow State University for three weeks and studied Russian for about fourteen lessons, which tallied about seventy hours in total of lessons. The expedition, which I am doing in conjunction with my school, will be a four-day expedition to t he Isle of Skye in the month of August. Skye is in the Hebrides, which is North West of Scotland. Apparently the place is just about dry enough to be considered an island. So coming back to the point that I’m completely exhausted. Boy that’s a bad link. I’ve just been on a training weekend with other people doing the Gold Award scheme. This involves me getting a huge rucksack, filling it with enough food and drink to last me for two days (including a huge quantity of snacks), a change of clothes, a sleeping bag and a toilet roll. In addition to this I carry some group equipment which can be either a tent or a trangia. Tents are for sleeping and trangias (pronounced “tran-jah”, not “tran-gee-a”) are for cooking. These dainty things are mini stoves to cook your food in. It’s comprised of two pots, a frying pan, and a burner and sometimes a kettle. Mainly with trangias you’ll boil up water and cook something simple like cup-a-soup or pasta, which is really easy to cook. Anyway I was being a happy camper, climbing up hills and down dales with groups of people. It was probably closer to climbing up mountains and sinking down marshes with a bunch of disgruntled plebs, who can’t navigate with a map and compass to save their own hides. Navigation is one of the vital skills that all Duke of Edinburgh participants must learn, it cannot be emphasized enough. Being able to read a map, then look at all the physical features around you and know exactly where you are is a great skill to learn. Makes you feel really smug. Compass work is a little harder and I really don’t wanna go into it. If you can’t use a compass then you will be in trouble especially if you’re in open country. Compasses provide bearings that you obtain by reading a map. They direct you in the direction of where you want to go and they are incredibly useful if you are shrouded in mist. Take for example I want to go from the campsite to the river junction one kilometer due west from me. The bearing for due west would be 270 degrees so I set my compass to 270, line the compass up with magnetic north and follow the arrow the compass is pointing in. This is really easy if you’ve got a compass right in front of you. Hiking really did not appeal to me in the slightest when I did my first ever practice weekend in October. I was incredibly unfit to the point where it was not funny and the prospect of camping in the countryside where sheep cannot help to relieve them-selves everywhere. Thankfully through a decent level of training, I have become a lean mean camping machine. I can hike over countryside that most people would faint looking at, I can set up a tent proficiently, and I can cook a three-course meal on a trangia. And it feels great. I don’t know why, it must be endorphins in the brain or something. Sleeping in a tent with a bunch of other people does not bother me in the slightest. I’ve got to the point where it’s actually fun. I cannot honestly believe how much enjoyment I have derived from this scheme, having initially thought it to be a terrible burden. I am enjoying every part of it and cannot wait to go hiking again. But before I go I’m gonna give you a few tips on general hiking and camping. - When trying to cross a large river and there are no shallow parts or stones, continue upstream until the river shortens or becomes shallower. - When climbing over a gate, climb over at the hinge side so you don’t damage the gate. - When climbing over fences, look for a style (a wooden platform where you can get your leg over, matron) or alternatively look for the “straining post”. This is the largest post in the fence set at regular intervals along the fence, which can support a lot of weight. Never climb over a stone wall - When in doubt, take off and throw your rucksack over the river or fence i f you can't do the crossing with it on your shoulders. - Keep an eye out for physical features like mountains or rivers so you are sure of your position on the map and aren’t getting lost. - When stopping for a quick rest, I find that the best snack is plain, milk chocolate. It’s not fancy and provides a good boost of energy so you can tackle that steep hill. Failing that, an energy bar like Kellogg’s Nutragrain bars. A good drink is either water or an energy drink like “Lucozade Sport”. Nothing fizzy, doesn’t do you any favours. For a longer rest, cram some dry roasted peanuts down your throat. These things are excellent to eat as they have an absolutely huge energy content and don’t make your throat too dry. They are full of carbohydrates, which are slow release sugars so it keeps you perky for longer, rather than sugary snacks. Oh and if you want to be really sneaky, bring some of that stuff that you add to water to dilute it with, like Robinson’s Orange. Its especially good if you are using water from countryside rivers that might taste a little muddy. - With camping, look for a good sheltered spot on firm ground to place your tent. You won’t believe the stupidity of people who have camped on what seems to be dry ground, though upon waking the next day after a night of rain, their tent has slipped down hill a few feet. Try to position the door of the tent away from the wind and place rucksacks or equipment on the edge of the tent that faces the wind. - Get a good sleeping bag, like a three seasons sleeping bag, which are around forty pounds. They are huge things with a hood on them. Great fun to sleep in, as they are very comfortable and can be packed away really tightly if you have a compressor bag for it. -With cooking food with the trangia, which uses methylated spirits as its fuel (make sure you bring a lot of it!), make sure the trangia’s air holeis not obscured or blocked a s the trangias burner will not produce a good level of heat (the flame becomes quite sooty). Some good food to bring is pasta, which cooks quickly and a stir in sauce for the palate. Try some boil in the bag meatballs and pasta if you’re really lazy, but it’s quite expensive usually £2.99 a pop, because it’s all precooked. Cup a soups are wonderful, though go for the ones that have the pasta or the noodles in them for the extra sustenance I think I’ve exhausted my wisdom for one night. My legs are killing me, too much walking, y’know? Did over thirty kilometers over two days. Sounds bad I know, but for some reason I really enjoyed the challenge. Must be some sort of masochist. Really, more people should take up this scheme, it’s good for the old curriculum vitae as employers will worship you if you have a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award down on that job application form. What’s more if you complete the entire Duke of Edinburgh course at Gold level you get to go to Buckingham Palace and get it presented by the Duke of Edinburgh himself, if you’re really lucky that is. With most occasions, his subordinates do the presentations for him. So yeah, go do it. If I can, so can you. **EXPEDITION JOURNAL** I promised I would put this in! A year isn't too long is it? Prologue Where to begin? I could start off by saying the expedition was a success, but trying to get to the island was nearly disastrous. Let’s recap. 19th August 2002, A Sunny Monday morning. All four of the team members, David, Michael and Roger and myself met together in school to discuss travel arrangements for the coming Wednesday 21st. Now I was certain that we would meet at 6.30pm in the school to leave for the Stena HSS, which would take us over to Scotland. At 6.45am on Wednesday, a call from team member David woke me up. Basically it said something along the lines of; Me: “Uhh ? Hello?” David : “Hey Ben” Me: “Uhh? Oh hi David” David: “Umm, where are you?” Needless to say the penny dropped and I realised the error of my ways, whilst shouting several expletives down the phone line as well. Anyway without going into too much detail, we all arrived in Skye by one means of transport or another; however I only managed to get all my required equipment in time for the boat, such as my food supplies, toiletries etc... I didn’t manage to get any spare clothes packed. So I was wearing the same set of clothes for the following five days. Which was pleasant. Anyway we arrived at the only café in Skye which was owned by the one and only Mr Mann. He turned out to be our assessor for the expedition and we soon realised that most of the group wasn’t very good at using compasses or maps, except for me. No point in name-dropping the offenders [roger] though it was quite worrying, as it turned out I ended up navigating most of the expedition. After our elucidating meeting with Mr Mann, we were driven to Glen Brittle campsite, which is on the southern part of the island. It’s located next to the Glen Brittle forest and was where we spent the night in preparation for the next four days of hiking around Skye. Day One Thursday 22nd August Having had quite a relaxing sleep in our tent, which was a Vaude Space 450, we stirred at around 7.30 am only to be greeted by a damp grey morning and several thousand midges. These proved to be the most annoying thing throughout the entire expedition. They somehow managed to get everywhere; I had bites on my neck, face, arms, legs and even my chest. The only form of defence our group had was liberal amounts of insect repellent (one of the few things I managed to get packed) and David’s numerous incense sticks that looked liked deranged Catherine Wheels. Reluctantly we managed to have our breakfast with our new insect neighbours and got packed up ready to start our first day with a spring in our step. Heading out of the campsite our main walk of the morning was to make our merry way through the Glen Brittle forest. After crossing over a very Indiana-Jones-y type rope bridge we were on the path into the forest. Though to use the term “forest” is a bit generous. Well it was a forest in the sense of the word; the trees just had a more horizontal quality than you would usually think of. Nevertheless we slogged our way through the semi-forest in surprisingly good time. In fact our time through the forest was so good that we made it to the checkpoint outside the forest at the north end about one hour early. This caused a slight problem that we hadn’t yet stumbled upon. It wasn’t a bad thing that we had gone ahead quite early. It was the fact that we always have to stick to our route card no matter what. So that meant that we technically should’ve waited at the forest exit for one hour more in order to keep to our route card. Unfortunately we didn’t do that. The group as a whole wanted to press on as the weather at this point was a bit dull and looked like it might rain at any moment. So we did, but we shouldn’t have as that’s nearly an automatic fail in the Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Luckily the assessor, the very interesting Mr Mann who incidentally owns the only café in Skye, had his version of our route wrong so he was late on his card as well. Despite our early going, we still managed to arrive at our lunch point late. Somehow we took a wrong turn, well not a wrong turn, just a slight deviation on our compass heading. Being off at least by one degree on a compass makes all the difference. Personally I think our teacher wasn’t entirely sure of what the magnetic deviation was for the Isle of Skye. Needless to say we were meant to arrive at a bridge over a river/road junction for lunch. We didn’t make it on tim e due to our (my) bum navigation and after careful deliberation over whether or not to skip through someone’s backyard, we decided not to. This proved to be a good idea as the legendary Mr Mann made his way up to meet us. If we had gone through someone’s property like that we would have yet again failed the expedition. Two times in the first day. Quite an achievement so far. Anyway we collapsed for lunch in the baking afternoon sun. I was so thirsty and didn’t have any water left in my canteen that I resolved to drinking Robinsons orange cordial neat. To anyone else it would have seemed too strong, to me it was heaven. I don’t recommend eating peanuts if you don’t have anything to drink, though they are great hiking snacks. Unfortunately I had to drink the muddy waters of Skye without anything to add to the taste from now on. Our next goal was to make our way up a long valley of about five or six kilometres keeping parallel to a single carriageway, past a load of sheep then make our way over a short hill at the edge of a forest, across some boggy land and then to the Glen Sligachan (sp) campsite. In theory it sounds easy. In reality it was absolute hell. I was becoming incredibly frustrated with Roger as his walking became slower and slower and slower and slower. I don’t know how we managed to get to the campsite. We should have arrived at about five o’clock in the evening. We didn’t arrive until well after half seven. I cannot emphasize how frustrating it was stopping every five minutes to allow the rest of the group time to rest briefly when we were going across one of the shortest of hills we had ever tackled. I don’t know what it was exactly; maybe it was a combination of the muddiness, nearly swamp-likeness of the hill couple with exhaustion and an impending headache from slight heat stroke that would strike me on day three. Stopping and starting never helps, I find that you just need to keep going, even if you’re going as slow as possible. We eventually made our way to the campsite, which was near the northern coast of Skye, in the shadow of the Red Cuillin Mountains. Looking like massive up turned ice-cream cones, we gazed at them in awe as our feet slopped in and out of the occasional bog. Finally we stumbled our way into the campsite. I have to note at this time I was very rattled. I was hoping that this nonsense wasn’t going to continue for the rest of the three days, how little I knew that I’d be eating my words in a few days time. Anyway we set up our tent. I set up the trangias and tent with Michael, David lit several incense sticks all over the place (Midges had followed us from Glen Brittle, how kind of them). Roger went stumbling away and got water for the trangias from the sinks at the campsite facilities. With regards to the weather I was glad that it remained sunny on this day. Had it rained on the first two days I would have probably been demoralized quite early into the expedition. Anyway my meal that night consisted of an entire bag of pasta (500g bag of Buitoni’s finest). After dinner I went and had a shower (even though I had no change of clothes I had packed one spare t-shirt which I used as a towel). Once I replenished my water canteen and had stuffed my stomach full with food, I climbed into my sleeping bag (wonderfully comfortable three-seasons type made by Snugpak) and in a haze of anti-midgie incense and the smell of sweat and drying mud I fell asleep after half nine. We covered about 20 kilometres on this day. Day Two Friday 23rd August We were awoken by one of our teachers (can’t remember which) and we grudgingly stirred. Reaching into my rucksack I fished out the following: - My water canteen, - A readily made vacuum packed breakfast cereal (with milk!) - A Nutra-grain bar This became the staple for my breakfast for the remainder of the days. I had dozens of the nu tra-grain bars so I regularly used those as snacks. I also had four, 500g bars of Dairy Milk chocolate for the four days. Thinking back about it, two kilograms of chocolate is a ridiculous amount of chocolate to try and eat in four days. After eating breakfast, I stumbled out into the bracing morning air of Skye, knocking over a burnt out incense stick. To greet me was the sunshine and of this time several million midgies. I think they were pissed off that we were trying to repel them all of last nite so they came back in the morning to get their revenge. We packed up our tent and supplies in the space of about an hour or so and made our way off to a foggy start. Our target for lunchtime was Camasunnary (sp) which involved us walking down a big valley on a well established path for about ten kilometres. This took about three hours to do and was one of the best walks of the four days. The valley itself was beautiful, here and there we saw Aberdeen Angus (Angi?) grazing and the occasional frog bounding across the path. We also saw an RAF fighter plane flying down the valley as well on a regular basis. After a while I felt it began to feel like Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest” but no one else would have agreed had I said anything. The weather was excellent on the second day, in fact it was so good that it eventually became unbearable but more on that later. Camasunnary was idyllic for lack of a better phrase, with a huge valley behind us and the coast in front, we sat by a very clear and fast flowing stream for lunch. I could have contently stayed there all day but we had to press on. Our next hike was quite a biggy, we needed to hike over a very steep hill and then make our way up another valley, in the vague direction of doubling back on ourselves. Basically we were doing a roundabout walk of the Cuillins. You’d need crampons and proper climbing equipment if you tried to hike those things. We made our way over the hill fairly easily, the s corching sunshine didn’t help much, neither did Roger’s walking pace and we met Mr Mann on our way down the other side of the hill before making our way up the valley. To me, this was the worst walk of the entire expedition. I’m sorry to repeat it but it was a combination of Roger’s pace, absolutely scorching heat (my scalp got sunburnt) and the perpetual length of it that really started to depress me. I hate walking along an incline, walking on slopes is really very difficult for me, I just don’t have the ankles for it. We slogged our way along this very difficult valley and my navigation again went to pot. I said before that it was 90% of the time me with the compass and map. And I’m not always correct all the time. Unfortunately on this day it nearly proved to be fatal. Instead of following the route properly to follow a route down to a park entrance, I decided to head in a straight line for the campsite which was visible from when we reached the end of the valley. This led the group off a sheer cliff. Not a very good idea, so I doubled back but we still didn’t head for the park entrance and instead I led them straight to a ten foot high deer fence. Amazingly even Roger climbed it. It took some effort hurling our rucksacks over the fence but we made it. The fence may have stopped deer leaping over it but it didn’t stop us. We eventually found our way back to our intended beaten track but by this time Roger’s pace had slowed to almost a slither. Anyone walking at a normal pace would have beaten us. It was pretty clear that there was something ailing roger but at the time all I wanted to do was grab a walking pole and poke him in the back with it until he started to walk faster. It took us at least an hour to walk less than two kilometres to the campsite. That’s unbelievable in normal walking conditions. Nevertheless we’re only as fast as the slowest man so Roger had to lead. We eventually m ade our way towards the campsite, which was a favourite area for sheep to graze, and lo and behold it was at the edge of another valley. The campsite itself wasn’t a proper one like the past two days but a sort of island in two rivers which sheep frequented. Again we arrived at a horrific time of about three hours ahead of our route card but thankfully our teachers kindly bought us some donuts and a two litre bottle of coke to divide amongst ourselves. It became clear what was wrong with Roger. His feet were literally killing him though this picture sums up his mood quite easily. Poor Roger (!) I feel very sorry now for my behaviour towards him. His feet were a mess. I don’t know what he was wearing in his boot but he may as well have worn a sock made from chain mail. One of the teachers took it upon herself the lovely task of reattaching chunks of his feet together with several bandages. The other teacher sensing my animosity to Roger at this time told me off and told me to back down, which I did. Anyway we eventually settled to dinner after scaring away the resident population of herbivores. Again I tucked into a whole bag of pasta by myself, quite a challenge but you need it after walking about 25 kilometres in one day with a 30 kilogram rucksack on your back.. I did not sleep well at all on this night. I had a headache from the extreme sun and the only hat I had was a woolly hat that I couldn’t wear for long because it became too warm. Eventually I managed to get some shut eye. We covered about 25 kilometres on this day. Day Three Saturday 24th August I awoke with a headache, and to some rain. Luckily our midgie friends had found some place dry. We hadn’t and this was unanimously the worst day. All sorts of things happened today. Navigation was poor because of thick fog, everyone was pretty much demoralized from the rain and creeping exhaustion. It finally hit me how tired I was getting. I was in hell, I didn’ t have a clue where the heck I was meant to be leading the group but I did lead them in the general direction (thank god). I also borrowed one of the other guys walking poles, can’t remember whose it was, possibly David’s, to try and make me walk better. The route on this day fails me, needless to say it was wet. Mostly it involved us following the river we had camped beside upstream to farmland, then bearing across east towards another valley. We spent most of this expedition going up and down valleys in a zig-zag fashion across Skye. From this valley we were to head across some farmland whose name or location fails me. Lunch was spent in some dank and exposed location whose name is not known and quite easily forgotten. It really was a horrible day for the most part of it. Our main aim was to make it to one of the southern peninsula like areas of Skye. Before we got there a note of interest was that we walked across the edge of some grazing land next to a forest. There we encountered some bovine friends or to a certain member of the group, bovine fiends. Actually I was pretty sure the large bull that we met at one point was lunging at us as we were trespassing on its territory. However the certain member of the group courageously saved himself from uncertain trampling death that he dove into the nearest tree. He then spent about five minutes trying to get himself on his feet, the rest of us would’ve laughed so hard if we weren’t so tired. After this farmland incursion we met our teachers (again) who gave us some apples before heading down to our campsite which was a five kilometre walk away. This took us about two and a half hours. Again it was Roger’s pace but the march itself was quite tiring, and we took some time trying to find a suitable camp spot. We found it in the form of Suisnish. Suisnish is what’s known as a “township” in Skye. These things are old deserted villages that were once inhabited by the indi genous population until the greedy landlords kicked them out in order to make room for the more profitable sheep herders. We set up camp in an absolutely idyllic spot, it was just amongst some ruins of a house and it overlooked the southern end of Skye. The weather at this time had abated and there was a gentle breeze that kept all the midgies away from us. It was a clear, night, warm but not humid, breezy but not chilling. I set up the tent with the help of David while Roger collapsed in a heap. Crean went off somewhere to find some water, which was the only problem with the place. The stream was very small and it was under a blooming great fence that shouldn’t have been there. Needless to say, from what had been the worst morning ever, it turned into the best evening of the whole expedition. At this point I was so fed up with pasta that I just drank a cup a soup. I never touched pasta for about three months after this expedition, I’d already eaten about three bags of the stuff over three days, that’s enough for a lifetime. We all sat around on our karrimats and recounted jokes from The Simpsons, before heading to a peaceful slumber for the last time in our beloved Vaude Space 450 tent. David was at the ready of course with several incense sticks, though at one point he nearly did set the tent ablaze which wouldn’t have been very useful. I had recovered from my headache, three quarters of the expedition had been done, things were looking up. Hell, even Roger was looking forward to tomorrow. We had covered about 20 kilometres on this day. Day Four Sunday 25th August We awoke with a spring in our step. We were all looking forward to our last day, mostly because it was going to be the shortest day so far. It was getting so sentimental that our midgie friends felt such that they returned one last time to bug us that morning. The early breeze of the evening before had not persisted. We made sure to not leave any rubbish behind i n Suisnish and made our merry way up the coast of Skye for the first time. This was the most scenic we went on the whole expedition, as we went up the coast we passed by several amazing 70 foot high waterfalls. From one of them we got the clearest and tastiest water of the whole expedition. Corniness was at an all time high at this point. Photos were being taken. Memories were being reminisced already. We headed our way up the coast to another township which I believe was called Boreaig. This one was a lot bigger than Suisnish, and I actually lost the route at this point and nearly led the group up the wrong hill (again). Nevertheless we joined an established path which led us nicely on our intended route for about an hour or so. We actually met some people coming the other way. Civilization had completely left us for about four days, and to be honest I could’ve done without it for much longer. Seeing as we were the only group to walk around Skye at the time, we felt for the most part like we were the only ones there. After hiking over the aforementioned hill, we marched our way through some non-descript landscape and past some more bovine friends that looked at us a bit cockeyed. After the cow encounter we soon met up with Miss Glenn and Miss McKibbin for lunch. The closing stages of the expedition were upon us. There was not much left to do. In fact it was two hours or so that we had to complete the expedition. All it involved after lunch was a climb up a very messy hill, a sludge through some marsh land and a slide down the other side of the hill. To be honest the end of it felt like a slight anti-climax. After trudging around for four days I felt as though a fanfare or a 21- gun salute was in order or something similar. I got neither, instead we shook hands with Mr Mann, owner of 99.9% of all franchises on Skye, and stumbled our way onto the minibus at about three o’clock in the afternoon.
I was really looking forward to doing Duke of Edinburgh. I signed up and went to all the meetings really enthusiastic; to me it was an adventure. I had a few friends who were doing it as well, not close friends but still friendly faces. I got a little blue booklet and some gold coloured cards. There were three cards, one for physical one for charity and one for skill. PHYSICAL This is the part of the course where you have to do something challenging that is also physical. I chose to go to the gym once a week. I got a teacher to attend and she would report on my progress from week to week. You have to fill in 24 boxes; each box is worth 30 minutes. I went for an hour a week and so I tended 12 sessions. I enjoyed it because I could eat extra food and not put on weight (I lived on choccie cake). I didn’t carry on with the gym afterwards though because I didn’t have the time really and couldn’t be bothered. I did however gain a bit of well needed exercise so I found it good fun. CHARITY My mum has worked in a charity shop for nine years and so I decided to do my voluntary work there. I knew the people and everyone was really friendly. I mainly did ironing and sorting out the back, while the old dears sat and drank tea and talked about the weather to the customers. I did this for a few weeks here and there. I found I put in more hours than I could of because I couldn’t really turn up for an hour and leave, it would seem a bit rude. I had to do this work over the space of 6 months, but I found that I had something to keep me going because my boyfriend (who was also doing Duke of Edinburgh) would come and meet me afterwards as a surprise. When I finished charity I had to write a report and get my card and book signed. I wrote a page on the activities I had done. The two ladies I worked with wrote a comment about my work and signed to say how many hours I had worked. SKILL I have pla yed the piano since I was six years old. I have done a couple of grades so I thought this would be an easy skill to do. I go to lessons for 30 minutes every week so I got my teacher to sign my card until it was full. At the end she made a comment on my progress and signed my book. Nice and easy. My school has a list of other activities that you could do but I choose to do my own. Everyone was given a choice of ideas. The school ran a p.e. Club every week after school you could attend for physical, craft clubs for skill (my boyfriend went to juggling club) and a list of programs you could join for charity work. Now we get to the bit that everyone joins Duke of Edinburgh for, THE EXPERDITION. You have two trips, one is a practice and one is the real thing. Before we went on the practice my school ran a few training classes to help us prepare for what might happen. On the practice days we learned how to draw up our route plans (so the school would know where we were and we would have rough coordinates to guide us on our journeys), emergency procedures for cuts and other accidents and most importantly checking we could put up a tent. We were given an equipment list, which we were expected to have on the expedition. The school did have a few spares for people with little money, making this award open to everyone. I got a rucksack, borrowed a tent and cooker and had a nice snug sleeping bag, because it can get cold on summer nights. PRACTICE I live in Essex and about 20 minutes from my town is Danbury village where I did my practice. It is a very typical country village with lots of fields and farms, few houses and few shops. We were not allowed to go near shops so this limited our chance of abusing the rules. I was in a group of six people, three boys and three girls. We split our equipment between us so one person carried a cooker and the other two carried the tent. We had two tents in our groups, a bo ys and a girls. A teacher came with us on the first day to make sure we got the idea and didn’t cheat. On the second day we were allowed out on our own. My group only made it for the first day. Apart from not being allowed into shops there were a few other rules. You were not allowed in a member of the other sexes tent. Fair do’s right? Well we did our walk; we had a stop for lunch and bumped into loads of other groups. We met teachers at check points (to make sure we were ok) and were the last back to the campsite. Not that bad, we set up dinner (a lovely sachet of super noodles) and relaxed. I went and saw my boyfriend and generally had a fun time. The teachers set up games that evening to keep us occupied. We had a skipping competition and loads of other challenging games to make sure we were not bored. About nine o’clock we were relaxing and it got a bit cold. So the group of us decided to sit in a tent with the door open and talk (boys and girls). I had gone to the loo and let everyone else in the tent for a while when the teachers came over. The organiser (and my headmasters wife) found the group and chucked them off Duke of Edinburgh, no explanations allowed. I’m best friends with my bladder now. Well half my group were now off and I was split up from the remaining few and put into a new group. I must hasten to add that another group were found in the tent together (mixed) and the teacher just told them to get out end of story. The next day everyone was in a really bad mood. I joined a new group (who I was friendly with as well) and we went on our journey. I didn’t really enjoy myself because I was thinking the whole time about the people who had been chucked off. When we got off the trip and went back to school the people who were chucked off were told they had to make a formal apology to the Duke of Edinburgh organiser. They did this reluctantly because it was th e head masters wife, however they were not really sorry. THE REAL TRIP I stayed in the group I had been put on the second day. There were seven of us but one of the boys was moved into another group to make up the numbers. I had broken up with my boyfriend so there was a hostile atmosphere in the air because it was only a few weeks after. We went to Sussex, any more I don’t know. We were told that we had to write a report about the expedition afterwards so we spent the whole time writing down notes as well as looking around us. I had a wonderful time. We made up stories and games. I would have been even better if it hadn’t of rained. One of the funniest things that happened was that we put our tent (in the pouring rain) up inside out. We got very wet that night. The next day we took our time because we didn’t see any need to rush. The group before us (which was my exboyfriends) rushed and got to a checkpoint before a teacher. They carried on and were made to repeat the day another time (because the staff wouldn’t believe they hadn’t taken a short cut). We sore all sorts of animals are really enjoyed the sites (apart from me getting my group lost and walking an extra three miles… they took the map off me after that). I wrote my report when I got home while everything was still fresh in my head. I asked a friend to hand it in and waited for my results. The school however lost my report and refused to give me my award. I had to write another report, which I was not very amused about but I got my reward in the end To anybody thinking about doing Duke of Edinburgh it was good fun. I was unlucky to have a moody little ***** (fill in as you like) for an organiser but I did still enjoy myself. Sara
Picture this: a mini mob of tired schoolchildren stomping along the countryside muttering, "if I ever meet the Duke of Edinburgh..." Anti-monarchists? No, just D of E award candidates. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is usually run through your local school/university/college, although it can take place at a number of varied venues - a leisure centre or probation centre for example. If you or your child is considering signing up for the award, then I hope this opinion answers some of the many questions you're bound to have about making such a great commitment. ============================================= HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE? If you're starting your Bronze Award, you have to be 14½. If you go on to do Silver, you have to be at least 15½. Direct entrants at Silver level have to be at least 16. At Gold, Silver Award Holders can start at the age of 17. Direct entrants have to wait until they're 17½. You have until your 25th birthday to finish whatever level you're attempting. You cannot continue past this age unless you can prove to the National Award Office that you have suffered from a serious accident or illness that prevented you from completing your award. ============================================= WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO? You must complete a service, expedition, physical recreation, skill, and at Gold level, a residential project as well. ============================================= THE SERVICE There are three forms of service: one where a great deal of practical work is required; one required specialised training, and one requiring a specific qualification. An example from the first group is working with children/elderly people, in the second group, helping out at a vet's, and from the third group, gaining a first aid qualification. I myself undertook a first aid course for my Silver Award - not only did I comp lete a service, but I became entitled to call myself a qualified first aider for the following three years. At Bronze Level, I helped out in a volunteer run museum with charitable status. Both services were fairly easy to arrange and I thoroughly enjoyed them. At the Bronze level, you must do your service for at least 15 hours over 3 months. These minimum requirements double at Silver and then double again at Gold. If you're a direct entrant at Silver or Gold, they increase even further. ============================================= THE EXPEDITION For me, this was the biggest challenge of them all. I'm quite young, but not especially fit and healthy. However I pushed myself further than I thought possible, and ended up climbing a Munroe as part of my final hike at Silver level. The Bronze expedition lasts for 2 days (one night under canvas) with a minimum of 6 hours planned activity each day. At Silver, you have the choice of doing an exploration instead. Either way, you have to spend at least 3 days (2 nights in a tent) doing at least 7 hours of planned activity a day. This goes up to 8 hours for Gold, and lasts for 4 days (3 nights). As far as distance is concerned, if you're travelling by foot, you have to walk at least 15 miles (24 km), 30 miles (48 km) and 50 miles (80 km) for the three levels. You can opt to do cycling, horse riding, canoeing, rowing or sailing instead, but this is harder to organise. I did my award through my school and was given no choice. It was pure hiking for me. The number of people hiking together can be between 4 and 7. The number of people per tent is really dependent on what kind of tents you can get. The bigger the tent the more space you have (you can stand up in a nine man tent) but the colder it gets. It's really warm in a three-man tent (and also really cramped). You have to consider the advantages and disadvantages and also the practicalities. You ma y not even get a choice. For your expedition/exploration you will need to be suitably prepared. You'll need a decent hiking bag, liner, food, warm clothes (maybe even thermals), an emergency shelter, a first aid kit, a stove, a sleeping bag, a compass, a map, a torch... etc. You should find out just how many of these items your Operating Authority can help you with. As for hiking gear, just pop down to your local shop (e.g. Craigdon Mountain Sports, Millets, etc) and ask for advice. Usually the staff working in such shops have done a lot of sport themselves and will be able to give you some excellent advice. As for food, you'll need to think carefully. If you end up hiking for hours in the rain and feel tired, soaked and miserable at the end of your first day, then a nutrigrain and an apple probably isn't going to keep you going. Get food that you yourself like, that keeps well and cooks quickly (if it needs to be cooked). Officially you have to cook food each day - at my school we were provided with trangia stoves. (An absolute nightmare to clean!) One of the best discoveries for me was Marks and Spencers' precooked crispy bacon. Proper food without the need to try and cook in the rain. Perfect. Look around and see what you can find. Most people buy "boil-in-the-bag" food from hiking stores but I personally think it tastes disgusting and get alternative foodstuffs instead. I recommend trying out boil-in-the-bag food *before* you go on your hike in case you really can't stand it - giving you time to go buy something else. ============================================= SKILL At Bronze level, your skill needs to last for at least 6 months, if you continue to Silver, you have to do it for 6 months and at Gold, for 12 months. Direct entrants at Silver have to do it for 12 months and direct entrants at Gold have to do it for 18. Since it takes so long, you should pick something th at you're interested in or you think you might find to be so. The main problem with this section is finding a suitable assessor, so it's a good idea to enrol in some sort of evening class and beg the person taking the class in advance to promise to sign your record book at the end. ============================================= PHYSICAL RECREATION Some physical recreations require set standards to be attained, others have more vague requirements. You need to earn 24 points for Bronze, 30 points for Silver, and 36 points for Gold. Attaining the relevant standards can net you points, but if you don't manage to achieve one, don't worry. You make up the missing points by putting in more time - for each hour you spend on your chosen sport each week, you get 2 points (1 for half an hour). You can only count 2 points a week or 4 every other weekend. ============================================= RESIDENTIAL PROJECT A residential project should be done without your friends. It should last for at least 5 days in a row (with at least 4 nights away from home). Since you're on your own for that long, you're supposed to forge new friendships. Signing up for a residential project with a friend is regarded as cheating by many award candidates, but it is officially allowed as long as you're only away with one or two people you know. An example of a residential project is carrying out preservation work on a canal. NB., you only have to do a residential project at Gold level. ============================================= WHEN I COMPLETE A LEVEL WHAT HAPPENS? Well, you get a certificate stating that you've completed the Bronze, Silver or Gold level of the award. At Bronze and Silver you get a little pin badge with the appropriate colours and at Gold, you can either opt for a pin badge or a special brooch or miniature stick pin. Your Duke of Edinburg h Award can be put on your CV to demonstrate your ability to show commitment, teamwork and dedication to potential employers. (28% of visitors to the D of E award site said that the main reason for taking part in the award was so that they could list it on their CV.) ============================================= IS THE AWARD UK ONLY? The Award operates on an international basis. If you're in the USA, you probably won't have heard of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, but you might have heard of the Congressional Award. In Ireland there's the President's Award, in the Netherlands you can try the Benelux Award or the Ordre National du Mérite de la Jeunesse in Cameroon, to name a few. Each award scheme follows the same core principles. These are: * the participation on a strictly voluntary basis of people between 14 and 25 * the basic award structure * the timeframe that each participant should look to follow * the lack of discrimination within the award In total there are about 60 countries offering some sort of Award scheme similar or identical to the UK's very own D of E one. ============================================= IS IT WORTH IT? At the end of your award you will feel a great sense of accomplishment. If you go on to Gold, it will look great on your UCAS form. At any level, it will look great on your CV. It's a big commitment, but you do have until you're 25 to finish the award. You might start Gold at secondary school and end up continuing with it at university. If you try doing all of the sections at the same time, you'll find your free time eaten up, so do try to plan your award out with that in mind. As well as looking great on bits of paper, the award is lots of fun and it is a great way to make friends. If you get the opportunity, do think about it. And go for it. ============================================= WEBSITE http://www.theaward.org