Duke of Edinburgh Award: A student’s perspective

Date Posted: 17/07/2015

Pictured: Walton High students completing their Duke of Edinburgh Gold award in the Lake District.

Marcus Lim, a student at Walton High School in Milton Keynes, recently completed his Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Gold expedition in the Lake District. He spoke to School Travel Organiser about what the DofE Award involved for him and the benefits of taking part.

What does Duke of Edinburgh Award involve?

“There are four parts to the Bronze and Silver Awards – volunteering, physical, skills, and an expedition and then for the Gold Award, which I’m completing at the moment, you also complete a residential.

“I first started completing the awards in Year 10 and I hope to complete my Gold award next year when I will be in Year 13.”

Could you explain a little bit about each of the sections and what you have done for each of them?

“You get loads of flexibility to choose what you want to do for each section, which means that you can focus on areas that you enjoy and also possibly areas that might target what you want to do in the future.”

Skills

“The skills section looks to develop practical and social skills. At the moment, I am taking singing lessons as this is something I really enjoy doing.

“I have always enjoyed performing in the school musicals and thought the skills section was a great opportunity to develop an interest of mine.

“It’s good that you have the flexibility to do what you want; you could take up a sport or, for my Silver award, I designed print media for local organisations and charities. It means that there is going to be something for everyone to do and enjoy.”

Volunteering

“For the volunteering section of the award I have volunteered at my local Willen Hospice shop and I also help at my local theatre, both front of house and with stage management.

“This is something that I always look forward to doing and is also valuable work experience as I am hoping to go into the theatre industry after I finish school.”

Physical

“For the physical section, I regularly go to the gym. This is something I have kept up since I first started DofE as my local gym allows you to go from the age of 12.

“Some of my friends have joined a sports club and I am looking to join a running club for the remainder of my DofE award.”

Residential

“The residential, which I have not yet done, involves spending five days and four nights away from home on a shared activity with people you’ve never met. I am hoping volunteer at a YHA hostel where I can help to redecorate. This is something I’ll be looking to do later this year.”

Pictured: The Lake District.

What does the expedition involve? Is there a lot of planning beforehand?

“I’ve just recently come back from my gold expedition, which we completed in the Lake District. We chose to do ours on foot, but you can do it by pretty much anything, like bike, canoe, kayak, wheelchair or sailing boat!

“We spent four days and three nights in the Lake District walking around ten miles a day. My bag weighed around 20kg and the terrain can be tough, but I think this adds to the experience.

“There is a lot of planning beforehand. We had to arrange to come together in our group and plan our route and also emergency routes in case the weather was bad.

“These all had to be approved by our assessor in advance. We also had training and a practice run, which involved the same planning, similar terrain, but was just a shorter version. This looked to prepare us for the actual expedition”

What do you think are the main skills you have gained from taking part and completing the DofE award?

“I think there are loads of benefits to every aspect of DofE. The main skill I think I have developed over the course of completing the awards is time management. Having to balance everything alongside school work and exams has meant I have needed to be organised.

“Also now I am starting to look at applying to University I can see how valuable the skills I have gained throughout DofE are.

“The extra-curricular activities will hopefully make me stand out against other applicants but I have also gained confidence and improved my communication, teamwork and leadership skills, which I think are really important skills to have.  

“There are also obvious practical skills I have developed during the expeditions like orienteering, map reading, and pitching a tent.”

Pictured: The Lake District.

What part of DofE do you most enjoy?

“There’s not one part of the award that I don’t enjoy, but my favourite has to be the expeditions. It’s really fun to go camping with friends!”

How much support do you receive from your school?

“We now how a DofE coordinator who we can go to for any queries and we have teachers go on the expeditions with us, although we just meet them at the start and end of the day. The rest is up to us and it is our responsibility to complete the award.”

For more information visit www.dofe.org/en.

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