Two weeks ago, I went on my practise expedition for my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. If you aren't sure what this is, I'll explain now. Basically Duke of Edinburgh is a qualification with three stages (Bronze, Silver and Gold). All of the stages involve a Physical activity being completed, a Skills activity and a Volunteering activity. After these have been completed for the period of time (depending on the stage you're at) an expedition should take place. Many schools or clubs which take part in DofE, may allow a practise expedition in order to help those become familiar with equipment, food and the amount of work before the the real expedition. Carry on reading to find out what I learnt on my practise expedition and my advice/tips for those doing DofE or thinking about doing DofE.
When choosing your physical, skills and volunteering activities, try choosing things which will either be fun, useful, new or something you can improve in. DofE is great to step out of your comfort zone and try something that you might be great at. For my physical I did Olympic Weightlifting, for my skills I wrote blog posts and for my volunteering I helped at a Youth Club. However, for my Silver and Gold I may change some of the activities by perhaps volunteering with elderly people. By doing these activities, I feel that I have became more caring but also able to instruct and organise activities for children. I've also improved greatly in my Weightlifting and blog writing, gaining so many of you reading weekly now! At first I was nervous about my skills and volunteering sections, however I feel happy and proud that I've almost completed my Bronze. Not sure what to choose for your DofE activities? Check out the link below.
Before leaving for your expedition: Clothes
Clothing is important for D of E, but don't worry nothing needs to be really expensive. The most important clothing items I'd say are walking boots, waterproof jacket/ pants and walking socks. Because whatever the weather is, I guarantee you'll want these items to be good quality. I decided to purchase Berghaus waterproof pants/ jacket which included a detachable fleece (as I'm doing my Silver and Gold, I thought it'd be worth it). However, you can find much cheaper waterproof jackets and pants from Go outdoors, Sportsdirect, Cotswold Outdoor and any other sports shops. My waterproof walking boots were by Northwest territory, which I've had for the past 3 years and have still stayed in excellent condition. Depending on the weather when leaving for the expedition, you may want to wear warm thermal layers and leggings which aren't restrictive. But I do advise bringing clothes and accessories which are suitable for all weather conditions (sunglasses, sunhat, gloves, beanie ect.) I also advise bringing a spare pair of shoes with you for when you reach where you're camping, I was relieved to have another pair as I didn't want to get the inside of my tent dirty with my boots.
Before leaving for your expedition: Food
I suggest buying food no more than a week in advance before your expedition. Buying lightweight food which won't go off or smell is the best thing to look for. You'll want to be eating around 3000-3500 calories in order to have enough energy when walking for so long. This means that food which are high in carbs, fat and protein and best to choose. Personally, I felt like I limited the amount of sweets I took with me as I knew as my body wasn't used to high amounts of junk, that it could cause me to feel sick and unfocused (not what you want when you're in the middle of Snowdonia walking for hours). That meant that I took a lot of dried fruit, granola bars, protein bars and nuts. Other than this, I do advise taking a pack of bagels and some cheese spread, as they can easily be eaten. squashed and put into small sandwich bags. With the cheese spread it was easy to walk around with and eat as it was in a tube.
For a real expedition, you must make a three course meal according to the DofE rules. For my starter I took a chicken cupasoup which tasted amazing. Then I had two packets of cheesy Pasta with canned tuna for my main meal, which was nice and warmed me up. For my pudding, I took brownies and ate any left over food which I couldn't keep until the next day. For breakfast, I ate granola bars, quakers porridge drink and weetabix protein drinks. Then for the rest of the day, I snacked on the food I had left.
Before leaving for your expedition: Bag packing
Packing your bag correctly and making sure it is fitted correctly is very important. Whether you have your own bag or have borrowed one from the club/school you're doing DofE with, I advise buying large surgical plasters to go on your hips and shoulders if the bag rubs (or if you're quite boney). This definitely helped me avoid blisters on my body from the bag. If you've purchased a bag, sometimes sports shops can fit them for you. Heres an excellent link if you aren't sure how to fit your bag:
When packing your bag, make sure you pack items which you won't need until you're setting up camp, towards the bottom. Then, you'll want to put food, spare changes of clothing and first aid items towards the top so you don't have to fiddle around looking for important items whilst walking. This photo explains a lot more on how to pack your bag.
During your expedition
Whilst walking on your expedition, make sure you're always careful where you step and that you stick with your friends. Its also great to have someone in your group who's good with directions (that was me) and someone who is calm when mistakes happen. If you don't know who you're going on your expedition with, get to know them beforehand as you'll be trusting these people a lot. Its also great to help other people with their tents or if someone is injured. Me and my friend woke up in the night to help some girls with their tent as it was raining and all their tent pegs wouldn't stay in the ground. But overall, the practise expedition was great and I cannot wait for many more to come! Thanks for reading, I hope this was a useful post.
A 17 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter. I'm determined to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.