As your kids get older and start growing into young adults, there are many outdoor pursuits that can help them develop into self-confident and self-reliant individuals. However, with a large amount of school work and the pull of social pressures at that age, encouraging this can get difficult.
Enter the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, or DofE for short.
The DofE is open to children aged 14 to 24 and provides a structured programme for individual development. Awards are graded into Bronze, Silver, and Gold, with difficulty and length of time increasing for each level.
Essentially the DofE tracks a person’s progress across the following areas:
- Volunteering – This could be working for a charity, including wildlife and environment charities.
- Physical – Focuses on getting fit and learning a new skill. This includes all the normal sports, plus things like learning to ski, climbing, and extreme sports.
- Skill – Encourages the development of new skills, which could include the arts, learning a musical instrument, to knowing how to build a web site and dog training.
- Expedition – Teaches organisation and self-reliance. The expedition doesn’t have to be hiking. It could be cycling, rowing, sailing, or some other form of independent travel. It doesn’t have to be far away from home either. It does have to have proper preparation, training, and a practice run, and after it is all over, a final presentation.
All activities are recorded in a log book or online at the DofE website, with photos and evidence provided by assessors.
Completing an award takes time and commitment. Each section at the Bronze level takes 3 months, with typically an hour a week spent on the chosen activity. When you are up to Gold level, Volunteering is required for 12 months and a split of 6 and 12 months between Physical and Skill, including a 4 day expedition and a 5 day residential stay.
There are many regional co-ordination centres throughout the UK, and there may already be a DofE Leader or Assessor at your child’s school. DofE Awards can also be done through a number of organisations such as the Scouts, Girl Guides, Air Training Corps, Army Cadet Force, and others.
Although there are many approved activities, if your child wants to do something not on the list, then as parents you will need to validate insurance and safety checks for the activity. Plus of course, you will need to provide your child with support and encouragement throughout.
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