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8 ‘Pro’ Tips for your Silver DofE Expedition

By Anika S, Year 11 Journalist Leader

Year 11 recently completed their Silver DofE practice expedition which replicates the assessed expedition they will be completing in March. The expedition was spread over three days, consisting of two nights of camping, four trangia-cooked meals, a campfire and many embarrassing experiences. As the expedition can be quite tricky, here are some ‘pro’ tips based on our experience to help make it slightly better for future DofE students.

Know where you are at all times

This may seem quite basic, but it is the most important thing to keep in mind. If you are unsure of your location, call a teacher or ask a passerby. Asking for help is always better than walking off-route and having to cover extra distance to get back on track. When you’re carrying a bag that feels like it’s twice your weight on your back, even walking a few extra steps can be absolutely infuriating. 

When in doubt, check the compass

The compass never lies. If you’re not sure which path to take, don’t just follow the path that “looks right,” because often it’s not. Check the compass, it will show you whether you are on the right path or not. If the compass is causing confusion, ask a local for directions.

Write up a route card in detail

This is one of the most useful things you can do to prepare. My group did not print out or put a lot of effort into our route card, this resulted in us getting lost on multiple occasions and covering a lot of extra distance while putting us in various stages of grief. So, put that extra thirty minutes into putting in details of your route. These can be things that you might see on the way or the names of the paths you will be walking on, these are not only useful for keeping you on track, but helps the teachers and others understand where you are in relation to where you need to be.

Do not pester the person with the map

This can be quite hard, as it is normal to feel the urge to know how much longer you have or where you have reached, but this can be quite frustrating for the person holding the map. You should definitely try and understand where you have reached, but try to keep the “ Are we there yet’s?” to a minimum.

Snacks

Carry light snacks and put them in an easily accessible area of your bag. You do not realise how helpful this is until the weight is too much to bear and you can’t walk another step. That small sugary treat is usually what makes the whole difference. To give you an idea of what to bring, our fan favourites were dried strawberries, chocolate coated rice cakes and humbugs.

Choose your lunch wisely

As lunch will be the only meal that you will not make, it has to be something that will last over the three days. Sure, for the first day, a basic sandwich is a great idea. However, by the second day, that sandwich that you have been looking forward to will be too disfigured and soggy to be called edible. It’s better to think carefully about what the most viable options would be for your lunch on the second and third day. I strongly suggest dry foods, rice cakes or pita bread might be something to consider.

Pack light

It’s quite simple really: the lighter your bag, the happier you are. I get it, you’re finally out of uniform, you want to wear all of your hiking pants or shirts and your best night suits. Sadly, that will come at a price. For the expedition, I had only one focus: survival. I knew how much the weight of my bag affected me on the bronze expedition, so even though I ended up carrying the bare minimum and essentially giving up on my hygiene, I was in the best position to walk the 47k (and extra unintended distance). 

Work as a group

In this case, teamwork really does make the dream work (if the dream is getting home on time). The more collaborative your team is, the more easily you will be able to get through the expedition. This can be as simple as taking turns holding the tents and trangia or giving roles to people (e.g. cook, clean up, map reading, etc…). These small changes make a big difference.

Although we came back in one piece (just), the expedition was definitely quite mentally taxing. There were many highs and lows (literally) and even though there were times when I felt like face planting into the fields we were walking on, there were also times when I was awestruck by the view of the night sky or the landscape. On our last night at camp, we even made s’mores under the stars. It was my first time eating a s’more, and was definitely one of the various new and exciting things I experienced on the trip. I will warn you that the expedition can be quite hard, but if you follow these tips and make the most of it, it can be quite gratifying and fun.

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