The Duke of Edinburgh award is a long-established scheme to help build outdoors skills (and those running the award also qualify for a group discount on maps) and Helen Cross from Blacks fills us in on how they get involved.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) has long been a favourite with teenagers and young adults, aged 14 to 24, to increase confidence, develop outdoors skills and give them an edge in the race for university places. And today, the award is proving to be more important than ever.
The award consists of three levels: bronze, silver and gold. Each level consists of activities in volunteering, physical, skills and expedition. Gold participants must take part in an additional residential activity. The wonderful thing about the DofE award is your path to the award isn’t set in stone: you can choose from a huge number of activities, according to your skills and interests. Commonly cited benefits of the award include increased self-confidence, improved sense of responsibility and enhanced teamwork skills. Additionally, according to the DofE website, 62% of participants felt that the DofE helped them make a difference to their community, and 82% felt that the award made them want to continue will volunteering activities. So why is the DofE award so important?
A 2008 study found has found that access to nature improves health, whilst a 2009 study by Natural England discovered some disturbing trends: less than 10% of children now play in the countryside, with 62% saying that they play in their home more than anywhere else. One of the main barriers the study found to children exploring outdoor space was the issue of supervision: 85% of parents would like their children to play outside more, but fear of possible dangers meant they were reluctant to let them out unsupervised. Likewise, 81% of children stated that they would prefer more freedom to explore the outdoors, but were worried about possible risks.
Therefore, the DofE fills a need that teenagers and young adults may have for time in the countryside, and allows them to send that time in a supported fashion, where they will learn skills that will enhance their enjoyment of the wilds of Britain for many years to come.
Staying ahead of the pack
Increased economic pressure means that young job hunters are seeing competition for entry level positions like never before. Those who show an interest in extra-curricular activities such as the DofE will set themselves apart from the crowd when it comes to university placements and postgrad jobs. With corporate social responsibility becoming more and more important for businesses, and the green economy booming, we are likely to see an increased demand for employees with a demonstrable social conscience.
At Blacks we are proud to stock the Duke of Edinburgh recommended kit, which covers everything from pocket knives, to sleeping bags to cooking equipment. The recommended kit has been tested by DofE teams, so you can be sure of quality.
If you’re interested in embarking on the DofE program, visit the DofE site to find a list of licenced organisations in your area and start your adventure!