Through the years I’ve participated in many DofE expeditions, along with supervising lots too! Here are my top 5 Do’s and Don’ts you should remember on your next DofE expedition!
Do buy the right kit for your expedition. You need to buy decent waterproof jacket and trousers (whatever the time of year, you never know!), there’s nothing worse than getting soaked the first day of your expedition, and staying soggy for the following days. You also need to have suncream and a hat – it is better to stay prepared. The sun can be strong, even when it is cloudy. At the end of the day, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad kit! The Project X team always recommend quick-dry clothing for adventures like DofE, so if you do get soaked you’ll dry out. But, also if it’s hot, you can rinse your clothing out in the evening to keep you a little fresher!
Don’t take the bare essentials, but at the same time, don’t over pack! The key is to only take what you need for the length of your DofE expedition. All you need for Bronze and Silver is one set of walking clothes, a spare set, full waterproofs and maybe shorts and a tee for the evenings. For Gold, you can take the same, and either one extra set of clothes or if your clothes are quick drying, you could take travel soap and wash them at your camp.
2. DofE Kit
Do practice setting up your tents and trying to use your stove before you go on your DofE. We think it is a really good idea to get used to the kit you will be using before you turn up for your expedition, so why not try cooking a practice meal and put your tent up. Furthermore, checking your kit thoroughly is so, so important! Check that everything is in safe working order, and has all of the bits you might need. Getting to your campsite on the first night of your expedition and finding you’re missing a tent pole, or your stove is broken is really not what you want!
Don’t rush and just grab what you think you need. You might forget something vital to your DofE, or end up finding out your kit is faulty whilst out on your expedition. Your rucksack can hurt your back if it is missing straps and clips. Your tent could leak – you and your kit will all be soaked (wet kit means your rucksack will weigh more). And your stove could be dangerous to use if there is a problem, or impossible to cook on!
Do plan your route as a group – you all need to have an input into your route and navigation. Use your compass whenever you change direction on your path, to ensure you have the right one! (if you struggle to find a path with the right bearing, you might have gone wrong somewhere!) Write clear descriptions on your route card, so you can easily see where you need to go! Working well as a team, ultimately means you will all have more fun! If everyone is being a team player and helping out, there will be less tension and minimise arguments.
Don’t leave it all to one person to do everything. Similarly, don’t leave anyone out because they struggle to use a compass and map – help them to learn the skill. Work together if you aren’t too sure where your location is on the map – it is never one person’s fault if you get a little lost! Don’t rush to plan your route, or take silly shortcuts – like deciding to walk along a boundary instead of altering your route to find a proper path. Your supervisors and assessors will notice these and will get you to change your route!
4. Leave only footprints
Do appreciate your surroundings; you may stumble across historic monuments, wildlife and other people. Respect the environment, take photos and explore things as a team. Always take your rubbish with you, and if you spot any litter along your route, pick it up too!
Don’t disregard the Countryside Code! Close every gate you open, be respectful to farmers and their livestock and leave no trace you were ever there – so do not leave litter behind!
5. Have fun
Do pick an aim everyone in your team has an interest in – whatever it is, it shouldn’t be boring. Your DofE can be a real bore if no one is interested in completing your aim. Enjoying your aim means that coming home and presenting it will be so much easier. When you find a pretty spot, take a rest or stop early for lunch – you may as well enjoy the view!
Don’t wait to have your breaks at your checkpoints, usually, they aren’t the best place to stop – they can often be close to roads and not very sheltered or pretty! Why not have lunch overlooking the countryside, instead of a road!!?
Do let us know how you are getting on with your DofE this year, by using #ProjectXDofE on Twitter. We love to see where in the world you have chosen to do your expedition, and what new and exciting aims people have thought up! If you need any advice or tips, leave a comment below, our team has years of DofE experience, both Participating and Assessing, and are happy to help!
Originally published: 30th March 2017 | Updated content: 22nd March 2019