There are four main sections of a DofE programme; Volunteering, Physical, Skills, and Expedition. At Gold participants will also complete a Residential section.

Below, find the requirements for each section, including information on what activities count and how long to do them.

Volunteering section

What activities count

Volunteering is about giving time to do something meaningful, motivated by making a difference rather than making money.

Participants should look for impactful opportunities around them – this can be in person or online. Meaningful volunteering is different for everyone. There are many people and organisations that are willing to provide participants with opportunities for volunteering. An opportunity could be found within your community, at social enterprises, charities, not-for-profit organisations and Volunteering Approved Activity Providers.

Young people can also volunteer for social action causes, campaigns and within their Licensed Organisation (e.g., their school or youth group). Some commercial organisations can be considered, providing they can demonstrate that they offer volunteering opportunities in line with our outcomes and not as a financial benefit to themselves. Further guidance on commercial volunteering can be found in our FAQs on

You can also volunteer in a team, which might be an easier way to find an activity if you can identify a local need you can help with.

If you want information on how long to do the section please visit timescales.

Please click here for some frequently asked questions about the Volunteering section.

Please click here to download our flyer about volunteering with AAPs.

Physical section

What activities count

For your physical activity you need to choose any sport, dance or fitness activity – in short, anything that requires a sustained level of energy and physical activity. For example, playing a sport regularly and showing personal improvement would count. However, learning to be a coach in the same sport would be a Skills section activity, whilst being a volunteer coach counts for the Volunteering section.

If you want information on how long to do the section please visit timescales.

Please click here for some frequently asked questions about the Physical section.

Skills section

What activities count

For your skills activity you need to choose an activity that will allow you to prove you have broadened your understanding and increased your expertise in your chosen skill. It should not be a physical activity, for example horse riding, as this counts towards your Physical section, however, you could choose to learn about caring for horses.

If you want information on how long to do the section please visit timescales.

Please click here for some frequently asked questions about the Skills section.

Expedition section

What activities count

For your Expedition section, you will need to plan, train for and complete an unaccompanied, self-reliant expedition with an agreed aim. You must do the correct training for your level and mode of travel, at least one practice expedition, a qualifying expedition (the one that is assessed) and a final presentation in order to complete the section.

Your expedition must be completed by your own physical efforts (but you have loads of choices, not just on foot!) with minimal external intervention and without motorised assistance. Your route should also be a continuous journey.

If you want information on how long to do the section please visit timescales.

Modes of travel

  • Foot
  • Bicycle
  • Boat
  • Canoe or kayak
  • Wheelchair
  • Horseback

To help you choose and then find the right kit for your expeditions, the DofE Expedition Kit Guide offers key information, tips from the experts and money saving ideas.

Once you know what kit you need, the DofE Expedition Kit List is the essential checklist when preparing the kit you need. All DofE recommended kit is tried and tested, so you know it’s fit for expedition.

Residential section - Gold only

What activities counts

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For your Residential section you need to undertake a shared activity or specific course with people you don’t know, in a residential setting away from home and in an unfamiliar environment. Evenings are often as much a part of the experience as daytime activities.

This section offers a high degree of flexibility but it must be done with an organised group, registered charity or Approved Activity Provider. You must join it individually and not with an existing group of friends or as part of a school or youth group trip. You will be staying away – anything from an activity centre or camp to a boat or barge – but you cannot stay with friends or relatives.

There are no age restrictions on who you can do your residential activity with, for example, a conservation project has volunteers of all ages on it – you may even be the only person under 25 or doing your DofE.

Your activity can be anything that provides you with an opportunity for broadening your interests and experiences. It is ideal for trying something new or it can be related to existing interests or activities followed in other sections of your DofE programme.

Download the Residential section checklist to make sure your chosen activity will count towards your DofE, and make sure it’s approved by your Leader and Licensed Organisation.

Find a residential opportunity

How long to do the section

The residential activity should normally take place over at least five consecutive days with a minimum of four nights spent away. In exceptional circumstances, and at the discretion of your Licensed Organisation (you must get permission in advance), this commitment can be spread over two weekends. However, it must involve at least four nights away within a 12 month period, during which you do the same activity. In eDofE you will be asked to give three dates – the section start date (the date you start your planning and preparation) as well as the start and end dates of the actual residential activity.

Please click here for some frequently asked questions about the Residential section.

Opportunity Finder

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