Felsted DofE begins 2024

By Toby S, Year 13

DofE is an amazing, all encompassing opportunity that Felsted School offers. It obviously teaches you outdoor-style skills, such as cooking on a trangia, putting up and sleeping in a tent, and map-reading and orientation skills, however, I have also found that in reality DofE teaches you far more than that.

DofE persuades you to embrace the outdoors, loving the time you get as an escape from reality and as such valuing the natural world so much more. Additionally, DofE leads you to become more independent, learn a new skill, keep up your physical fitness and help develop your leadership potential. It does this through the Expedition, Volunteering, Physical and Skills sections, which you must participate in weekly over a certain period of time, depending on which level you are completing. I have trained to become a Level One Hockey Umpire enabling me to help to give back to my local hockey club through volunteering to umpire and coach the juniors. I also regularly contribute online to a scientific database helping to map wildlife in Kenya’s reserves which is a topic I am passionate about; I have an offer from Exeter University to study Conservation Biology. For a skill I have always worked at my musicianship and was delighted to gain my Grade 8 in the saxophone for my Gold DofE skill component. That said, the experience has encouraged me to try new skills and embrace learning new things; I have recently tried cooking!

There are three levels of DofE, and whilst I would recommend starting at Bronze just because the experiences all levels give you are invaluable, you can enter the scheme at any level. Whilst completing my Gold practice expedition, I was with people in my expedition group who had no experience of camping but enjoyed every minute of it for the first time. I also worked in a group of pupils from different countries and backgrounds which was a real eye-opener to see the British landscape through a different cultural lens. Highlights of completing my Gold Award though definitely have to be my Residential trip to the FSC at Slapton Ley and my Gold assessed expedition walking to the coastal path in the North York Moors.

Joining and working my way through the tiers of DofE continues to be one of the best experiences and choices I have ever made at Felsted and I would strongly suggest it to everyone, no matter what experience you have. It definitely has helped to develop my character and has provided me with many skills for life beyond school.