On expedition with DofE ambassadors: We’re ranked as one of the UK's top schools for Duke of Edinburgh | Framlingham College

Framlingham College has continued its excellent form in inspiring Duke of Edinburgh ambassadors and award-winners, with two pupils having recently completed the National Duke of Edinburgh ambassador training programme. Tabby Wade and Mimi Salsby have both long been keen participants in Framlingham College’s Duke of Edinburgh programme and were both nominated by the school’s coordinator, Mr Myers-Allen, for the scheme. The pair have since completed the training, which encourages them to arrange and coordinate activities and act as ambassadors, within the school and beyond, to promote the benefits of Duke of Edinburgh for young people. In 2020, despite the Pandemic, Framlingham College pupils received 188 awards from the National Duke of Edinburgh Office, making us one of the highest-ranking schools in the country per capita for Duke of Edinburgh.

We caught up with Mimi and Tabby to hear about their experiences of being on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition:

Tabby’s Expedition Experience:

Expeditions are at the heart of the DofE award. All the hard work with volunteering, physical and skills lead up to the completion of the expedition. There are many things that you need to do to prepare for the expedition phase and there are always many people who aim to help, should you need it. These preparations include organising a group, planning route cards and preparing kit.

On a typical expedition you will walk for the majority of the day and learn to improve your map reading and teamwork skills as well as creating some of the best memories. You will experience different and beautiful landscapes and learn to cope with challenges that you do not face in normal life. This allows people to discover their strengths and weaknesses. As well as the walking, the camping aspect is vitally important. This advances cooking skills as well as the ability to build tents and having the organisation needed to pack up and depart in the mornings. This is a chance to relax after the long day and bond with your friends and create moments you will look back on forever.

Each level of DofE will allow you to learn new things and I highly recommend giving it a go; even if you are not aiming to reach the Gold stage. It is an important life experience and completing any stage is a very impressive achievement. At Framlingham College, we are aiming to get as many completions as possible.

Choosing to do DofE was one of the best decisions for me as it encouraged me to become more active and also push myself into different situations. DofE has helped me in many ways as I have learnt to work with people I don’t normally interact with, made new friends and have developed vital skills which I am positive will help me going into the future.

By engaging in this role as DofE ambassador alongside Mimi, we hope to share our experiences and encourage everyone at Framlingham College to take part in this excellent opportunity. It takes a lot of determination and perseverance to complete this award but the reward you feel once you have completed the expedition is well worth it.

Mimi’s Expedition Experience:

In year nine, Mr Myers–Allen encouraged us all to take part in the Bronze DofE, giving everyone an opportunity to explore new interests and develop essential skills for life. Pursuing the Duke of Edinburgh award has been one of the best decisions I have made throughout my time at school and has motivated me to take part in as many school activities as possible. It can open many doors such as possible career opportunities in the future. For my Gold DofE I am completing the Orchards cookery course this summer. I will then apply these new skills to a job in the French Alps as a ‘Chalet Girl’. It can be a life changing experience and despite the challenges you face, it can be the most rewarding feeling and drive you to go further in life.

DofE expeditions involve a group of approximately 6 or 7 people. The aim is to complete a walk with a rucksack on your back, carrying all your essentials for the length of the expedition. These include: dried food, water, 2/3 tents (distributed amongst the group), sleeping bag, spare clothes (and waterproofs!) and cooking utensils. (Bronze – 2 days, Silver – 4 days, Gold – 5 days). You have to navigate by using maps and compasses to your designated check points which you discuss as a group when completing your route cards. You need to take responsibility for cooking, erecting tents and ensuring your group is safe. Teamwork is the most vital aspect of DofE. In order to complete the expedition, you must be able to work well and efficiently as a team. Packing the right amount and type of clothes and food is essential so you are prepared for all weather conditions. Waterproofs and thermals are as important as sun cream and blister plasters and sensible packing ensures rucksacks are not too heavy to carry.

From a personal experience, my first Silver practice expedition was one of my favourites. We headed to Coniston which is in the southern part of the Lake District. We walked between 27,000 and 30,000 steps a day, however, we didn’t even notice. Being amongst your friends, making memories and having fun in beautiful countryside is the way I see it. I have completed all my expeditions with my close friends, and we have all taken away many different lessons from it. Being joint DofE ambassador with Tabby this year has given me the opportunity to share with you my experiences and the love I have for completing The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme. Although these expeditions require a lot of effort, dedication and perseverance, it is the best feeling when you arrive at your campsite, take your walking boots off and you know it is time for a hot chocolate with your friends sitting round a self-lit fire.

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