Is DofE for me?
The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) has been running for seven decades, and in that time it’s changed literally millions of lives. Read on to see if it could change yours.
About the DofE
The DofE is an achievement award set up by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (the clue is sort of in the name) and is open to anyone aged 14 to 24. There are three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold – which you attain by completing a range of physical, mental, social and adventurous activities.
Perhaps the most important thing people say about DofE is that they have a great time doing it. It’s a chance to have new and unique experiences with your existing friends, or to make some new ones; or most likely, both.
You’ll also learn a lot of new skills that will teach you things about yourself as well as equipping you for the world after school or college. It might be really practical things like time management or communication, or more subtle ones like self-confidence, the ability to stay calm under pressure or how to make a fire in the rain (seriously, you never know when you’ll need that one). It’s great for your CV, your uni application, or just your actual life.
DofE awards are made up of different sections, each with a different purpose:
- Volunteering. Help your community, doing anything from teaching local children to working in a charity shop.
- Physical. Improve your fitness. Pick a challenging activity, like a team sport or maybe dancing, and throw yourself into it.
- Skills. This could be developing something you’re already into, like music or baking; or trying something totally new, like web design or speaking another language.
- Expedition. Where do you want to go? Hike the Highlands, raft Canadian rivers, tackle Welsh mountains – DofE expedition teams do all of that, and more.
- Residential (Gold DofE only). Spend five days and four nights in the UK or overseas working on a joint project with other DofE folks you won’t have met before. You can make friends for life and make a difference to the lives of others along the way.
Different awards take different amounts of time depending on the level (you can get a detailed breakdown on the DofE website. The main thing to know is that everything is designed to fit around the rest of your life, so you can slot DofE around school, work, socialising and hobbies without any trouble. A lot of people find that it takes over their lives – but in a good way.
Everything you need to know, including where you can do your DofE near you, is on the official website. You can also read testimonials from people who have done it before, to get an idea of what’s really involved.
The welcome pack and participation fee costs £20 for Bronze and Silver awards, £27 for Gold. You can pick the kind of expedition and activities that suit your budget, and participants get a discount card that offers money off equipment.