Duke of Edinburgh's Award in a pandemic
Undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at any level always requires a lot of organisation and commitment, but during a pandemic with two lockdowns, this has been considerably harder and requires a lot of careful thought and planning.
Many people think that DofE is about doing an expedition, walking, map-reading, carrying everything you need for cooking and camping overnight, but this is only one of the four sections. At Bronze level there are three others which require a more regular commitment of at least one hour per week and for a period of 3 months for 2 sections, and 6 months for the other.
There are many activities that can be done safely during lockdown and help participants develop the experience and skills that future employers are seeking. This year the DofE are awarding a Certificate of Achievement, recognising the efforts and dedication participants put into completing the other sections while they are unable to undertake an expedition.
AKS pupils have risen to the challenge and have not allowed their disappointment at being unable to take part in an expedition prevent them from completing other sections. Trying to think of different ways to complete the 3 sections is quite challenging at present, as they must ensure comply with the requirements and aims of DofE award, as well as national and local guidelines.
Here are some of their thoughts:
When I started my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, I was very excited about doing volunteering, as I had never formally participated in charity work before or worked in a shop. It has turned out to be a great experience where I have met a lot of new people, learnt to schedule my new job into my everyday life and above all helped to contribute to the running of a shop that supports a very important cause. Max M.
To start with, the hardest part was finding somewhere I could volunteer during the pandemic, and am glad that there were online, COVID safe options. I am volunteering for Zooniverse to monitor animal populations and changes across the world by counting penguins. For my skill, I am learning BSL using the official online course, which is challenging and very rewarding. Pippa M.
For me volunteering has been the most difficult aspect to sort. Due to the pandemic and the current lockdown, charity shops are closed, and many children’s community groups, such as Rainbows, Scouts and Brownies have stopped for the moment. In school being in different bubbles makes it hard to volunteer with other year groups. However, food banks remain open, therefore I am planning to volunteer in a food bank in order to make my contribution in helping others through the pandemic and complete my Gold DofE. Amy S.
Volunteering has been difficult for me - I was originally helping to rehabilitate an individual with mental health needs. However, lockdown prevented this as we weren’t able to meet and do our usual activities such as walks and baking among other things. I was able to use skype as a way to connect with her and continue the rehab; making sure that she was doing alright with the stresses of lockdown. Keira B.
My volunteering was easily transferred to online meetings. The Scout Troop I volunteer at as a leader used the opportunity to develop their technical skills for a badge they were working on, and I have also been able to take on a greater role in planning for the programme. In many ways I’m thankful for the shift to online meetings, as my Leader Training has since consisted of smaller, more focused meetings, and it has streamlined it so I am now in a position to complete all the training within the 12 months allocated. Sam C.
My physical has been easy to sort because I chose running. I can track what I do on my phone and it is an activity which I can carry out on my own which is great for the current situation. Joe B.
I am going to do an online challenge to cycle the equivalent of Land's End to John O'Groats over the next few months. Sam C.
My skills section was easy to sort as I was able to do singing lessons over Skype call and I was even given the option to complete my grade 6 singing exam over a call. Keira B.
Learning to cook a variety of different meals at home as a Bronze 3 month activity, music lessons online and at Gold level Business tycoons and learning how to drive are popular Skill activities, which can all be done during a lockdown.
So DofE can still be done in a pandemic and lockdown – go to the DofE website for more ideas and information about the temporary changes.
Mrs W. with thanks to Sam C. Jack H. Keira B. Joe