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Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Adventures@ISP

Every year we have students who choose to challenge themselves as they extend their outdoor adventure skills through the Duke of Edinburgh Adventure challenges. Guided and supervised by our Activities Office, this past weekend, 16 of our Upper School students braved the cold and rain as part of their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh practice hike. We have several other groups heading out in the coming weeks at the Silver and Gold levels. 

About the DofE Programme: The program is for everyone between the ages of 13 and 24

The areas of DofE are physical activity, skill and volunteering. For each activity, you set a certain goal that will motivate you and move you forward. In the end, you will complete a team epecidition in nature. You record your entire journey through the program. (

Obviously this year, students had the added challenge of limited practical practice and physical activity leading up to their adventure. This reality, coupled with restrictions on where they could hike and camp, nonetheless met and persisted with their challenge and enjoyed being back on the ISP campus for the camping. Please see glimpses of their experience below, along with some of their reflections.

Favorite moments

Not surprisingly, after our lengthy lockdown and extended time in Distance Learning, our Bronze participants enjoyed the social connections the most during this weekend adventure. They shared that they greatly enjoyed: 

  • Playing cards with the group
  • Making food all together
  • Sitting around fire with  team
  • Talking with one another the evening before the hike, going around the bonfire, running in the rain 
  • Camping in tents and sitting around the campfire with my team. 

Persisting in the face of challenges

When asked about the most challenging part of their experience, DofE participants all had difficulty dealing with the physical challenges of cold, rainy weather, not having hiked with a heavy pack during COVID lockdown, as well as the predictable challenges of working as a team. Here are the challenges they flagged:

  • Sleeping – the rain was very loud!
  • Getting through the night since it was pouring rain and extremely cold
  • The most challenging part was, sometimes, working as a group, we all had different opinions, viewed our options differently, and wanted to go at different paces, this sometimes caused tension or stress
  • Probably almost freezing to death in the rain at night 

The very end of the hike (sore feet).

Learning by Doing

When thinking about how they furthered their skills during this practical experience, our Bronze participants shared that they have learned  

  • How to plan a hiking route.
  • How to set up and take apart a tent
  • To listen to their mother when she tells me to bring more jackets 
  • Perseverance and stamina while hiking, and teamwork with my group.  

New Insights

Our recent trekkers shared other insights they gained:

  • Have a more logical brain than they thought.
  • Didn’t know any of my teammates that well but we were all great at working together and got to know each other really well. It taught me that sometimes it’s a good idea to step out of your normal group of friends and challenge yourself with some new people.
  • Have learned to communicate with others when I need a break or need/want to do something differently and find a compromise.  

Learning from Our Choices

Like many of us, we learn from trying what we believe to be the best decision at the time and using the guidelines given. Not surprisingly, our campers have some new ideas for their next adventure camping to ensure better sleep and more comfortable hike!

  • Next time I will practice packing away my tent more because it didn’t go so well this time
  • I will also remember to bring a portable pillow
  • Next time I will bring more clothes for the night since it got uncomfortably cold
  • We did not distribute materials amongst ourselves and backpacks because we thought it was not allowed. Next time, to lighten all of our loads, I would do that.
  • I would bring a mat and more things for the night. I would communicate with my group better so we don’t bring too much. Also a pillow!
  • I wouldn’t pack so much stuff and I wouldn’t make the route card so long when me and the people in my group were beginners.

Nature and Navigation

While COVID has taken its toll on everyone’s well being and physical activity, it is good to be reminded (through our great hiking photographers) of the beauty that surrounds us and the privilege of our close access to such stunning nature.

Smiles and Laughter

Perhaps even more importantly than working on outdoor adventure skills, our ISP students reconnected through physical activity, friendship and had some good laughs! With friends, new and old, alongside us and a bit of fun, we’re all more willing to persist when the challenge gets tough and you’re not sure you can go any further.