By Emily Seeber, Head of Chemistry
Having helped supervise the recent sixth form Gold DofE Expedition to Dartmoor, I spent some time reflecting on why the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the expedition in particular is such a valuable experience for every student.
- Sleeping in the wilderness
There is something wonderful about sleeping in a camp you have made yourself: maybe no-one else has ever put their tent up exactly where yours is. Waking up and already being deep in nature gives you a new perspective on your relationship with the environment and packing up your stuff and seeing how little impact you can make on the ground underneath your tent is pretty inspiring.
- No technology
An expedition means days without iMessage, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. This makes DofE one of the least narcissistic experiences students can have.
- Fresh air and a bit of cardio
Everybody knows that when you’re feeling down, going outside for fresh air and exercise is one of the best things you can do. On DofE students don’t experience anything other than the freshest of air for five days straight – and climbing up hills with a heavy bag is not to be underestimated as a means of raising heart-rate; all of which gives students’ mood a real boost.
- Providing skills and opportunities for the future
DofE empowers student to organise their own expeditions and travels for the future, which may involve carrying a tent, but could be kayaking the Amazon, for example. Students start to see new opportunities and have the skills, and confidence, to take advantage of them.
- A sense of satisfaction
Hiking for four or five days with a heavy bag, setting up camp four times, staying positive and finding solutions to unanticipated problems: these are the challenges of an expedition and overcoming them is immensely satisfying.
- Removes traditional social barriers
Students do DofE for a range of reasons, so they are thrown into a deep relationship of trust with a group of people that they may not usually hang about with. Students form friendships with students they would not have done without the experience. This broadening and strengthening of students’ real (as in, not virtual) social network is associated with improvements in their mental wellbeing.
All-in-all, it is extremely worthwhile for Bedales students to take advantage of these opportunities time and again, with an increasing level of independence through Bronze, Silver and Gold. Grab a backpack… and contact Paul Turner, Head of Geography and Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator for Bedales.