I, Mark, first heard about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from my Air Cadet Squadron I was in. After hearing about it I came home and told my sister, Jacqueline, she loved the idea of it too! So we decided to work on it together to be able to motivate and help each other along the way.
The award was created by The Duke of Edinburgh for youth between the ages of 14-25 to promote the attributes that he felt helped him grow and develop when he was young. These include: community service, learning a new skill, a residential project, physical activity, and an adventurous journey. For each of these there is a minimum requirement that you must do, the rest is up to you! You choose what to do, how to do it, and when to do it! Just like most of home schooling, it’s very personally oriented. You have to use self-discipline and planning to finish the award your own way, giving you responsibility to make sure the award is finished.
I didn’t find it particularly difficult to complete, I only had to make sure I kept track of everything I did. As well, it helped by making sure I didn’t slack off. With the freedom of a self-created program I was able to work it around my schedule of work and school.
The physical exercise portion was possibly the easiest part to do. I love staying active so all I had to do was have someone with me to record it. My sister and I went for bike rides, hikes, swims, skiing, and going to a gym together! I also counted biathlon training I did with my Air Cadet Squadron.
I especially enjoyed the adventurous journey and the residential project. For the journey my sister and I both went dog sledding in Algonquin Park, an activity we found through the duke of Edinburgh’s award website. In fact, Jacqueline enjoyed it so much she did it twice! It took 5 days from start to finish and along the way everyone pitched in to help with everything from cutting wood for fires, cooking meals, feeding and putting bedding down for the dogs. An all-around fantastic experience.
I chose to do a Cadet Summer camp for my residential project, Survival Instructors Course. It was an amazing 6 week course on learning how to live in the woods with little to no provisions, as well as learning to teach others the skills I learned. But you don’t have to do something that long. Jacqueline did a weekend retreat for a Christian Church Society.
The program is a great way to record community service hours as well as encourage you to do more! While doing the award my sister and I both volunteered with our local pipe and drum band, it’s also where I learned my skill for the award, Snare Drumming! We joined a heritage museum where we did re-enactments of a local village. I was an apprentice blacksmith, and Jacqueline volunteered in both the farm house as well as a one room school house.
I would highly recommend that anyone between the ages of 14-25 do this! I had an awesome time doing the award and after finishing I got a proud feeling of accomplishment.
You also get a huge acknowledgement from the award program with a ceremony where you get to meet a member of the royal family or a representative of them when you complete your gold level. My sister and I got our Gold awards presented to us by the Governor General of Canada, including a social hour after the ceremony to get to talk to the Governor General.