The Duke of Edinburgh's Award: your expedition stories

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is much loved across the world, creating lifelong memories of less-than-ideal expeditions

Joshua Lowe

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award: Your favourite memories

After the death of Prince Philip, people have taken to Twitter to share their stories of the youth awards programme that he founded: the Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE).

The Duke of Edinburgh wrote for Tes in 2004 about his belief that the scheme – which has expanded to 130 countries since its establishment in 1956 – complemented the education that children received in school, and taught them important skills they could use for the rest of their lives. 

It offers Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, each requiring an element of volunteer work, an outdoor expedition and sporting activity.

Memories of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award

And it is usually the expedition element that provides the most challenge, and the most memorable anecdotes, as these stories show:

1. The reluctant camper

Who doesn’t love some glamping? Unfortunately, it’s not really in the spirit of DofE, as the student in this story found out.

“On an expedition to Wales, when it was time to camp, one of the girls decided that, rather than spend the night in a tent, she would actually prefer to go to her mum’s caravan," says one anonymous teacher. "Her mum had driven this caravan to the next field, just in case her daughter didn’t feel like using the tent.

“That evening this girl went off, showered, had dinner, and slept in the caravan! In the morning she wanted to rejoin the expedition – which she obviously couldn’t, because she hadn't actually completed any of the real camping!”

2. The big sting

Good grief too many to mention all of them!
Lad who was stung by a stinging nettle for the first time ever (at 14) and wanted us to call an ambulance.

— Glenn Turner 👨🏻‍🔬 (@glennturner83) April 12, 2021

3. The importance of a navigator

Radio communication:

Where are you?
We don’t know!
Where was the last place you passed on the map?
Oh don’t worry miss, we’re not on the map.


— Kat Stern (@KatStern4) April 12, 2021


4. Marching on your stomach

I did the silver award. My mom tried to pack a whole baguette and tins of beans in my backpack. I broke my laces on the expedition, ripped my jumper on a fence and got chased by a farmer and a bull. Never camped since 🤣

— Kat Sz 📚 (@Kattysz1983) April 12, 2021

5. The classic campfire pizza 

It’s not an education one but as a Guide leader I often hear the tales when they get back from expeditions - ranges from managing to order pizza to their practise camp to performing first aid on a cyclist while on expedition (super proud of that one - they got a Guiding award!)

— Sarah (@SarahJulio) April 12, 2021

6. When lost, find a nice farmer

I once helped out. We got ridiculously lost as teachers and the old farmer we flagged down to help directed us via hedgerow types. We decided to head to the end and hope the students arrived safely. All did with huge thanks to the Northumberland farmers who assisted them.

— Gemma Campbell (@gemlcampbell) April 12, 2021

7. The washout

Expedition with 3 Girl Guide friends, all good when we set off, weather turned drastically, all slept in one 2 person tent, other washed away, had to wade through a river that is usually a small stream, torrential rain. This was in the 80’s before we had mobile phones!

— Bretta Townend-Jowitt #Ubuntu (@Headspiration) April 12, 2021

8. Climb every mountain

I’ve run DfE in England too, but running it in China (called the International Award abroad) was amazing! Got to hike in Siguniang mountains (6,500m above sea level).

— Katie Lockett (@katielockett) April 12, 2021

9. Whose dog is it anyway?

Alison Browning explains how their team gained an extra member mid-expedition.

“We met a team on their route who had a dog with them," she recalls. "I asked them to explain where the dog had come from, and they shrugged it off with a vague: 'Oh, he just tagged along from somewhere up there.'

"Many phone calls later, we managed to arrange for the actual owners to meet me and return the dog.”

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Joshua Lowe

Joshua Lowe

Joshua Lowe is a social media journalist at Tes. He tweets @josh_lowe

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