The Duke of Edinburgh’s award; the quintessence of pushing one's limits. The reason I want you to join the award once you’re in Year 10, is because of the life skills you will gain from partaking in even just the practice expedition. I will be explaining what I enjoyed most about doing the award and what you should expect if you decide to join.
First of all, what do you have to do when you start the journey towards the award?
You have to do three main activities that will help you with your personal and social skills as well as foster empathy and humbleness.
These activities are: one sport, one skill and one service (volunteering). You have to choose one activity to major in and the other two will be your minors. This means that the activity you decide to major in, say for example sport, you have to do regularly for six months. The other two you do for three months. You have to set an achievable objective that you think you can reach by the end of the periods and that will push you out of your comfort zone, which is a good thing! We’re all at a young age where we get to facilitate personality growth and general development and I think that this is a great opportunity to make yourself the person you want to be. Especially with your service activity! I’ve definitely gained a lot more confidence, ever since I joined the award. However, doing the activities is time-consuming and I found myself adapting and getting more organised by using planners and notes to keep track of everything. And don’t worry if you think the activities are too much of a commitment because you get until the end of Year 11 to complete them which is more than ample to do them.
Now, what should you expect on your adventurous journey?
You can expect lots of laughter, teamwork, stunning views and wildlife.
I went to Royal Belum on the border of Malaysia and Thailand for the practice expedition and Lake Kenyir in the East of peninsular Malaysia for the actual expedition. Learning how to kayak is something very rewarding - you may even become addicted! Although it is very tiring, I can guarantee that you will absolutely love the surrounding scenery and the sense of freedom you have on the water. I had a blast with all my friends navigating and working together to find the next destination. The most joyous occasion though would always be dinner, right after we’d set up our tents we’d start cooking after a long day’s journey. Marshmallows are always a favourite for dessert after a heavy carbohydrate meal like pasta just before the spectacular sundown’s. However, I think that whether you enjoy nature or not, you will not want to miss the star-gazing which always left me in awe.
Before you set off though, you will learn basic survival and camping skills that you need in order to pass the award. These consist of first aid, map reading, knot tying and tent pitching (the pitching you will learn at school). And there will be a first aid course usually towards the end of term 1 to give you more in-depth knowledge on how to potentially save someone’s life.
All in all, I highly recommend the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, the memories you make are timeless. The ORB (the online platform needed to log the activities completed) has also just been updated so it’s easier than ever to record your hours and in general complete the award! Plus, having the award is definitely good for your CV when applying to universities. There are so many things to love about the award and it will definitely aid you in diversifying yourself and growing in non-academic areas.