This October half term saw me finish my gold Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) expedition in the Brecon Beacons. And I can honestly say it was one of the most physically demanding things I’ve ever done, but equally one of the most enjoyable and rewarding.
I had already completed Bronze and Silver beforehand, but nothing could have prepared me for the boggy, cold Brecon Beacons that would be my home for five days and four nights.
My highlight was, whilst descending a hill which honestly felt like Everest, the whole team singing Christmas songs. There is nothing like a bit of Mariah Carey to make the hill a bit more manageable.
However, the real victory for my team was how much we bonded and came together through this experience. My team was a mixture of girls from Years 12 and 13, so originally we didn’t know much about one another and at the start we felt more like individuals than a team.
But five days in the wilderness to brings people together and created a team spirit which carried us through.
It was this transition, from individuals into a team, that gave us our idea for a group project, “Teamwork and its importance whilst doing DofE”.
Each member had their individual job which contributed to the synergy and ultimate success of the team: we had the navigator, the compass bearer, the morale booster, the time manager, and perhaps the most important of all, the 'bog puller outerer'!
This person came in very handy when I and another team member fell into not one, not two but three bogs between us and I will be forever grateful to my team mate Ella for her speedy assistance!
On the final day we were asked what our advice would be to anyone who wanted to participate in Gold DofE. Jokes aside about bringing an inflatable mattress or a Sherpa to carry the rucksacks, we decided that the most important things needed for a successful DofE experience were tolerance, laughter and team spirit.
Obviously these characteristics are not exclusive to DofE but can be taken through life to make every challenge more bearable and every experience more fun.
I’m writing this whilst tucked up in bed, warm, well-rested, and well-fed. If I had been asked about DofE whilst on top of the freezing mountain on day three when my feet were wet and covered in blisters, my thoughts may not have been so generous and rosy. However, regardless of this, I have never felt such a great sense of achievement as when I, along with the rest of my team, got on the bus to go home, sat down, sighed and all in unison said, ‘We did it!’.
Well done to everyone who has completed their Gold DofE Award, and to those girls who are part way through their DofE journey. Please remember it is worth it and you will develop a personal sense of well-being and achievement.
However - and this is very important - remember to tell your parents what dinner you would like when you get home. The pie I had definitely made everything worth it, so thank you mum!