Expedition guide - Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions 101

Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions 101

We all know one of the best bits about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the expedition! It’s all about planning, training and working as a team, unaccompanied, in the great outdoors. It’s where friends for life and memories are made. Here’s what to expect, and how to prepare to feel that little bit more confident.

Planning your DofE expedition

Whether it is your Bronze, Silver or Gold award, every expedition requires planning and preparation. After you’ve selected your teammates, the first thing is to consider your expedition aim. This aim will guide your expedition and provide a clear outcome. It’s always smart to factor in your team’s interests and a select an aim that will be enjoyable for you to document, complete and reflect on.

Planning your team’s expedition environment and route is another important part of the preparation process. Whilst mapping out a route, there’s a few things you should consider. These include your minimum activity hours, how often and where you want to take breaks, any more challenging sections on your route, such as incline footpaths or streams, and, of course, where you can camp overnight. Taking the time to effectively prepare means you will be able to go into both your training and qualifying expeditions with confidence.

How to make the most of your expedition

Ahead of packing for and taking on your expeditions, here’s a handful of tips to keep in mind.

Having the correct gear cannot be understated. Wet clothes and painful feet are a sure-fire way to have a miserable experience on your expedition. Ensuring you have a jacket and pair of trousers that can withstand a considerable amount of water is key as well as boots with proper ankle support and base layers that are both breathable and comfortable. You can find our full range of recommended kit here for more information on the necessary clothing.

In addition to clothes, food and water is another biggie. It can be useful to coordinate your evening meals with your teammates to save you all from carrying extra, unnecessary weight from individual dinners and having to wait around for your turn to cook. The same goes with crockery, think about the kind of food you’re going to be eating beforehand. Most of the time, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a full set of cutlery and dishes. Usually a spork, bowl and perhaps a mug for an evening drink is all you need. However, although it is smart to ration crockery, don’t skimp on snacks. Maintaining your energy levels when you’re out and about on your expedition is so important. After all, nothing boosts morale like your favourite chocolate bar.

Another great tip is to get the practice in when it comes to packing and re-packing your rucksack! If you’re having to squeeze everything in within an inch of your life, then the likelihood is that you won’t be able to repeat this on your expedition. Before you set off ensure you can unpack and repack your rucksack with ease and that you haven’t overloaded. If you’re finding it a struggle to fit everything in then check for any unnecessarily packaged items and that you and your teammates are not doubling up on items such as shampoo, toothpaste, and cooking equipment.

The final thing to keep in mind is that it’s a privilege to be able to explore the countryside. Always make sure you are protecting and showing respect to the environment around you. Whilst on expedition ensure you are sticking to pathways, aren’t leaving a trace behind you and are not disturbing local wildlife. Familiarising yourself with the Countryside Code is great a way to find out more information on how you can protect your surroundings whilst on your expedition.

Navigating challenges

When it comes to a DofE expedition, it’s almost inevitable that something won’t go quite according to plan. Whether this is getting lost, bad weather, forgetting something, or an unwanted encounter with a cow, it’s important to know the key steps in being able to navigate you and your team through potential challenges. However, tempting it may be, refraining from panic and taking time to evaluate the situation is the best thing you can do. If we take getting lost for example, a common challenge on DofE expeditions, remaining calm so you can search for any standout features in your immediate surroundings that will enable you to locate yourselves is the most helpful step you can take towards getting back on track.

The biggest tip for tackling any issues on your expedition is maintaining a positive mental attitude. Whilst easier said than done, this is the best way to keep your group’s morale high and encourage resilience and use of initiative in any situation you may face along your way.

Although it can feel like there is lots to know and even more to prepare for when it comes to your DofE expedition, you shouldn’t worry! You aren’t completing your expedition alone; your teammates and supervisor are there to support you and help you throughout.

Enjoy your experience in the outdoors, have fun getting to know your teammates and remember all the skills you will be able to walk away with afterwards.

ch_uk-Blog - Author - Joseph Box

Joseph Box

Joe is a keen outdoor enthusiast, enjoying running and bouldering in his spare time.

Publish Date: 26/03/2024