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Duke of Edinburgh during lockdown

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What is happening to the Duke of Edinburgh during lockdown? Most will know that the Duke of Edinburgh award, or DofE as it is commonly known, is a

life-changing experience. A fun time with friends. An opportunity to discover new interests and talents. A tool to develop essential skills for life and work. A recognised mark of achievement; respected by employers.

With the UK in lockdown how has this valuable programme been affected? Fyling Hall’s Duke of Edinburgh Manager and programme participants share their thoughts on the Duke of Edinburgh during lockdown.

Mrs Trotter, Fyling Hall’s Duke of Edinburgh Manager

For Duke of Edinburgh leaders, much of the summer term usually is spent chasing pupils through corridors and in the school yard for permission slips and route cards, and a bit later, through fields and forests, over footpaths on the moor and little country lanes. It is the best part of the year really.

The summer term of 2020 looks different. Everybody is sitting at home, and until mid-May we were only allowed out once a day for our daily exercise. Fortunately, this has been relaxed a little bit now, so we can walk, run, cycle and play outside as much as we like. Sadly not with our friends, not with our pupils, or our DofE group. Schools probably won’t fully re-open before September.

All this means: There won’t be any DofE expeditions this summer term! We do however, hope for an easier world come September, so that our local sheep won’t completely forget about those be-rucksacked teenagers traipsing through their fields. The fact that the expeditions are postponed does not mean however, that all of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is put on ice. Read about some of our participants’ DofE lockdown stories.

Archie, Year 12

Being one of just two students attempting the gold award, there are some challenges which I have encountered in my path to ultimate glory. My skills and physical are of no issue. Cycling and music lessons can continue as normal. Volunteering, however, presents a little more of a challenge. At first, I was helping in the Whitby Music Centre junior band. As this is essentially lots of small(ish) children deliberately funnelling copious amount of spittle-filled breath directly into the air, it is for obvious reasons that I could not continue with it. Now I sit here, wishing with all my heart to give something back to this gracious society, but with the vast shadow of the Coronavirus blocking out all light of freedom and hope, I have been foiled. This darkness extends also to my residential, a weeklong course where I would be able to meet NASA astronauts and perhaps even send my own experiment in to space. This is of course exceedingly cool, but the problem comes with the word “meet” (i.e we would not be at quite the distance that astronauts on the ISS are from us), so that has been postponed for one year. I imagine the expedition will be okay. We shall eventually be allowed to brave the harsh wilderness and show our might in the 4 day long challenge, trekking through the harshest of medium-to-large English hills. A challenge many say is worthy of the gods. This may not be until next year, but providing I have not been stampeded by the cows living behind my house, I think we should be good.

Aimee, Year 9
Skills

I decided to do baking as my skills because I love to bake so I started this straight away with mint chocolate muffins.  I baked different things each Sunday and took them into school for tasting at our DoE meetings and shared them out with everyone who attended – any extra ones were given away at school or on the school bus.  I was very popular on a Monday morning!  I baked lots of very different cakes using lots of different techniques and ingredients.  If I didn’t like something in the recipe, I would change it – especially when it came to the decoration.  During my time baking, my friend Matilda had her birthday so I decided to bake a chocolate and vanilla cake made up of three layers of cake, with a square cut in the middle and filled with smarties.  I have now finished my skills section but I continue to bake during lockdown however sometime this can be challenging finding all the right ingredients especially flour!  I’ve cooked lots of scones for my dad, lemon drizzle cake, flapjacks and cup cakes with different decorations.

 Volunteering

I found this section the hardest because of my age.  To carry out a lot of volunteering work you had to be 16 years old or take your mum along to help out!  I was lucky enough to find the Young Rangers which is a group of young people (age 11-17).  We meet one a month in various locations around the National Park and learn new skills through completing different conservation tasks.  It is normally a full day and we take a packed lunch.   I started in a new group in January 2020 so everyone in my group was new.  We started with a few games which helped us all get to know each other.  We then started to clear down a large area of vegetation using jungle knives, pitch forks and shears.  Once this was clear, we planted 70 trees.     

In March I went to Port Mulgrave.  They needed as many volunteers as possible for this event so I dragged along my mum.  When we got there, the paths down the cliff to the beach needed renewing.  We made a human chain and passed down full buckets of gravel to a man who was raking this into a path as we went down the cliff. It got harder the more we got down the hill as the chain had to stretch out.  The empty buckets were going back up as the full ones were going down so it was fun but hard work. 

Also in March the Young Rangers met up at the Moors Centre at Danby as the centre needed maintenance before the Easter season started.  We brushed down and washed all the wooden statues on the woodland walk, washed down the car park metres, all the signs and raked up the leaves.  We also painted some tree pictures using mud and leaves and made a decoration out of conifer branches and flowers. This event now does seem like a waste of time because not too long after this, the centre was shut because of Coronavirus and this was the last time we meet as a group of Young Rangers. 

As we couldn’t meet anymore I looked to the Young Rangers leader to help us finish off our Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme during lockdown.  To help make my hours up I have created a layout drawing of my garden showing all the wildlife areas on such as bird baths, bird feeders, bird houses, our hedgehog house, log piles and barked areas of my garden.  I’ve also made bird feeders using old yoghurt pots and filled these with seeds, breadcrumbs and cooking fat.  I’ve made a bee bath and my next project is to create a mini nature reserve out of an old garden tub.  I am hoping to finish off my DoE volunteering section doing lockdown activities which I really enjoy and it also helps because most of them are outside looking at ways of encouraging wildlife into my garden. 

Physical

This was an easy choice for me because I attend gymnastics every week, so I decided to do this for my 6-month choice.  I started in October and went more or less every week (except half terms) until 14th March 2020 when it was stopped because of Coronavirus.  I thought I would continue my gymnastics at home because I had an air-track, so I set about trying to put more hours in practicing.  I managed 2 sessions at home, however on the third session mum was videoing me for my DoE proof and I did a back hand-spring and landed on my hand badly so I looked down and my finger was bending a funny way across my other fingers!  I was in agony, so Mum rushed me to hospital and I had an x-ray only to find that I had dislocated and broken my finger.  I had lots of gas and air which made me laugh whilst the doctor put my dislocated finger back in place.  Basically he stuck the end of his pen into my middle finger and moved it about a bit to make this happen!  I then had bandages on to hold it in place for 6 weeks.  No more gymnastics for me.    I thought I could try other forms of exercise, like running, but my finger hurt when moving my arm and I was supposed to get complete rest for at least three weeks before I could use it again.  The only option would be walking using up the one hour of exercise the Government allowed me per day.  I thought of an aim which was difficult but I thought I could plan a different walk for me and my mum each day out and also to notice something different about the environment I live in each time. 

My journey has been very different to the one I thought it would be back when I started it.  I think I will remember my bronze physical for the rest of my life.  I am now hoping that I have completed this section?

As for the last section which is the expedition, I was so looking forward to this.  We had practiced our map skills, cooked pancakes and hot chocolate using a Trangia (very unsuccessfully) and we had a practice walk using map skills on a very cold day.  Our planned practices and final expedition all had to be postponed because of Coronavirus.  I am just waiting to get back to school now so we can plan the expedition as soon as possible

Toby, Year 9

I have found lockdown as a DofE member very interesting. Firstly, due to the fact that I am not allowed to train for my physical aspect at my karate club, I have had to adapt and train at home. As I live on the school site and the site counts as my ‘home’, I go to the sports hall every week to train. I train with my brother Tomas and we go through the katas (series of moves) that we have to do pass the grading. This is to make sure that we do not forget them. However, I have managed to finish one of my sections which was volunteering. My volunteering was to build a bug hotel for the Junior school. Tomas and I carried on building it throughout lockdown as we had the resources necessary to build it. Now all we need to do is fill it up. I have also been able to carry on with my skill which Is playing the piano. Although I am not able to play in my band, I have carried on taking piano practice with my teacher over zoom. I also filled up the rest of the hour with practice. In my opinion, although I have not been able to meet with my friends, it has created an opportunity to practice my skills and to also focus more on my work.

Tomas, Year 9

There is one good thing that I think the quarantine has provided. I feel that the learning over the internet has made it so I have become more independent which I feel will help on the DoFE expedition.

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