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Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the Surrey Hills

p1040417smlYouth charity The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award supports over 240,000 young people every year, almost 50,000 of those from the South East Region. Their ethos is to enable all young people whatever their background to take part in their programme and succeed, regardless of any barriers. The scheme helps instil a sense of adventure and can have a lasting impact on young people’s behaviour, skills and life chances.

Anyone aged between 14 and 24 can take part at one of three progressive levels, Bronze, Silver or Gold. To achieve the Award a personal programme of activities in four sections (five if you’re going for Gold) must be completed. Areas include; Volunteering, Physical, Skills, Expedition and for Gold, a Residential.

From helping people or the community, getting fitter, developing skills, going on an expedition and much more, the programme provides young people with experiences, friendships and talents that will stay with them for life.

The Surrey Hills offer young people the opportunity to engage in activities for almost any level and section of their Award, whether it be a conservation activity for their Volunteering section or learning about nature for their Skills section.

Most of us will have seen young people on their DofE Expeditions, either with staff during training and practice walks or remotely supervised if undertaking their Assessed Expedition. A large number of young people from Surrey, the South East and London undertook their expeditions in this area in the months of March through till the end of October in 2014.

We are aware that as the numbers of young people undertaking their DofE increases so will the numbers using these areas. The DofE Scheme are working in partnership with Surrey County Council and the Surrey Hills Board to offer DofE Leaders ideas for different campsites or modes of travel to reduce the impact on the environment and new ways to add value to young people’s experiences such as learning about local wildlife or historic features in the area. Advice such as that found here www.dofe.org/go/advice is cascaded through training and regular reminders and training in Countryside Code is part of a participant’s syllabus.

Adults can get involved too, the Scheme organisers would like to know whether there is interest in the local community for people to put their name forward as independent assessors.  The role could involve meeting and greeting expedition groups and monitoring their progress, eg that sites are left litter free.  Although substantially a voluntary role, any travel expenses would be covered.  This can be a very rewarding way to engage with young people and enhance their experience.  The following website provides more information http://www.dofe.org/en/content/cms/leaders/training/eaas

To find out more about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme follow us @DofESouthEast or visit www.dofe.org.