What to expect if you join a DofE Open Gold Expedition

Joining a DofE Open Gold Expedition can feel a little daunting to commit to spending almost 5 days, 24 hours each day, with a group of people you have most probably never met before.

It’s not all that bad. In fact, it’s a very positive experience. 

At The Adventure Element, our instructors request to work on the Open Award programmes regularly. That speaks volumes! The experience is very positive and memorable for everyone involved.

The key thing to remember when getting ready to join a DofE Open Gold Expedition is that everyone is in the same position. Of course, there are times when small groups of friends book themselves on as a team but, in the main, like you, it’s individuals who cannot make their own schools or groups expedition dates.

Make a good impression from the start.

It’s worth thinking how you would like to be received by your other team members and how you would need to behave to ensure that others feel the same. Yes, there will be apprehension but, in our experience, it lasts no longer than the first hour or so. 

With a task to do (camp set up, cooking, route planning or kit checks) everyone quickly pitches in and begins to cooperate well. The chances of laughter and occurring in the first couple of hours are always high.

  • Make the first move. Approach others and start the conversation.
  • Help others who may need it. It's a great way to start a friendship.
  • Get involved in all team tasks. Others will gravitate towards you if you step out of the shadows and help.
  • Do not overpower others. Be generous with your time, but do not take over. Allow others to also have space.
  • Lift your head and smile. It is amazing how a smile from others can help relax you and others.
“Challenge yourself. It’s the only path that leads to growth” (Morgan Freeman)

At the end of the expedition, it is common to see phone numbers being swapped and social media groups being set up. Often, Practice Expedition groups, look to book their Qualifying Expeditions at the same time so they can keep their new friendships alive and share the whole experience together. 

Participants have fed back that the Open Expedition experience was better than completing the expedition with their school and friends. Why?

  • They've had a brand new experience in a new location.
  • They've felt as though they've grown in knowledge.
  • There is no peer pressure or expectation to be anything apart from themselves.
  • They've made new friends.
  • The challenge has allowed them to become more aware of what they are capable of.
  • There are no teachers!
  • They're treated like adults by the instructors.
  • The instructors are friendly, knowledgeable and really helpful.

Don't take it from us. Below is a testimonial from a participant on a DofE Open Gold Expedition.

Have a read for yourself to see how she got on…….

"The days before the expedition felt out of my comfort zone. I knew from my Practice Expedition the Qualifying Expedition would be challenging, yet an amazing experience.

I was apprehensive about meeting new team members, as you want to make good first impressions. I knew for the Qualifying Expedition I wanted to step up in regards of leading a team navigationally, after some mishaps in the practice. Finding a balance between leading and teamwork is a skill that I wanted to develop, and this was something I thought a lot about before the expedition.

After reflecting on the Practice Expedition, I know that the physical aspect would be difficult. I knew that I was the slower paced walker. Thankfully the team were supportive of this. It's always an emotional challenge walking into the unknown, but this award has taught me not to doubt my own ability and what challenges I can overcome.

My confidence as an individual has significantly improved. The expedition gave me the chance to explore a new area in the UK with essentially complete strangers. My confidence grew each day and by the final day we were singing our way to the finish line as a team of friends, not strangers. I got everything I wanted out of this expedition and I left feeling like I had accomplished so much.

I am so glad I decided to do an Open expedition because it proved that I can do things out of my comfort zone. Meeting new people and socialising has always been a challenge, so being able to do a week in a new place with new people was a great achievement. As a team we shared so many new experiences, emotional and physical - I have nothing but happy memories to remember.

Being so far away from home was something I’d never done, so that in itself was a huge stepping stone. I cannot thank my team and the Adventure Element enough, for keeping our spirits high throughout the week and I’m so proud of what we all achieved."

Why not find out for yourself and join an Open Expedition.

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