The Duke of Edinburgh Award
"When you think the road is too long, it means you should continue to walk"
Bellerbys A level student Hong Minh (studying Politics, Economics, Further Maths and Accounting) reflects on a tough but exhilarating Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition weekend.
Tired and cold
Tired, wet, cold, starving, desperate and excited were the emotions that each of the Duke of Edinburgh Award participants experienced in our weekend hiking expedition to the New Forest.
When we started our journey to the New Forest – a national park in the south of London - on Saturday morning we were a little bit nervous but looking forward to our weekend hike through the beautiful English countryside. We packed our rucksacks onto the coach and began the expedition.
When we arrived at the Silver starting point at 11:45am we were split into two teams (aged under and over 18 years old). James, our instructor, gave us maps, compasses, checklists and rough instructions before leaving us to find our own way to the first campsite.
Getting lost in the 'jungle'
We were excited, but were soon overwhelmed by tiredness after realising we were lost in the middle of the 'jungle'. We split into two teams to hunt for an escape route, which failed when one of the members got stuck in the mud. Climbing up a peak, running down a valley, exploring through the forest, we finally arrived at the campsite at 8.30pm, where James had been waiting for hours. We started to put up the tent and learned how to use the stove then cooked and ate dinner in the darkness.
After sleeping through a freezing night, we woke up at 7.30am the next morning. We were exhausted, due to carrying rucksacks on the back for a whole day. Nevertheless, with some practice at reading the map and using the compass on the first day, we finally arrived at Foxlease – another campsite – late in the afternoon. It turned out to be a stormy and windy reunion with heavy rain at midnight."
There was sunshine
Luckily enough for all of us, when we started the last 11km hike on Monday it stopped raining and there was sunshine. Despite being the shortest distance so far, the third day came as a shock to most of us. Some had collapsed and decided to give up, some were too tired to pick up their rucksacks, but in the end, when you think the road is too long, you will continue to walk. We kept walking through forests, fields, streams, mud, railways tracks, uphill and downhill, until we saw it - Ashurst station, our last checkpoint! We ran ahead like never before.
At that moment, 11, 14 and 16km a day was just a number. If we believe we can pass it, nothing can stop us. 'It’s our school. Hurry up and take your rucksack': The call from a girl sitting next to me on the coach woke me up from a long, deep sleep, which brought me back to where we started three days ago.
We now have our final qualifying expedition to South Downs coming up and I’m looking forward to it!
Jessie (studying Bellerbys Business Foundation) gives some advice to Duke of Edinburgh Award participants
Many students at Bellerbys College take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I asked DofEA programme leader, Paul Harniman, about the benefits of participating:
"First, it is a great programme for the young people" he explained. "They can have a new opportunity to try something different and fresh. Next, due to the fact that there are four sections people must take, they can improve the skills they already have. Last but not least is that they can take these sections regularly and do a lot help to their physical health."
What other benefits does the Duke of Edinburgh Award have?
Paul said: "Universities and employees in many companies think highly of this and it can be included in students’ personal statements and job applications in the future career. In addition, students can meet new friends and get on with them. From this activity, they can learn how to manage their time properly. Students who attend this activity can also visit a different part of UK with a different angle and various experience."
- During your spare time, you should try something new.
- Prepare to co-operate with others.
- Push yourself in doing some things.
I also asked the same questions of the students who took part in the award. In general, they think it is very positive contribution to their college life. It help them to become much more active and it is a really good chance to socialise with other people.
Making new friends and having a colourful college life is better than staying at home and doing nothing. What’s more, it can be written in your personal statement which can be useful for UCAS.
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