Expedition changes Q&As
Why is the DofE introducing temporary changes to expedition requirements?

We’re determined that young people should be able to continue working towards their Awards and have their achievements recognised – but we also know that COVID-19 will leave DofE centres facing real challenges in delivering expeditions over the next year.

We want young people to be recognised for their amazing efforts and achievements in their Skills, Volunteering and Physical sections – even if the current situation means they can’t do an expedition and achieve their Award this year. So, we’ve introduced the DofE Certificate of Achievement, to formally recognise the resilience and accomplishments of young people who’ve completed those three sections.

But we know many young people will want to do their expedition and complete their programme when it is safe to do so.

You can read about the temporary changes in more detail here.

Can I take my Bronze, Silver and Gold teams to the same location?

As the normal terrain requirements have been relaxed, it is possible to take all levels of teams to the same location. However, you must consider whether it is safe and practical to do so (for example, each team will still need to meet the appropriate duration requirements), whether you have obtained the appropriate permissions from your Licensed Organisation (LO), and considered the potential pressure on campsites and other facilities.

As the situation progresses, the potential for the use of different areas will hopefully become clearer – based on social distancing guidelines, rules within National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), and your own LO or Approved Activity Provider (AAP) policies and risk assessments.
It is not anticipated that this change will mean that Bronze and Silver teams will be journeying in terrain which is of a higher recommended level unless they are appropriately trained and experienced.

Can I take expedition teams back to somewhere they have been before?

Teams will be able to journey in terrain that is familiar to them. This could be where they did a previous level or undertook training walks or a practice expedition.

However, expeditions should still be a fun and challenging experience for all participants. Therefore, new routes and campsites, even if they are within familiar or ‘pre-used’ areas, should be used if possible.

Can we use the school field for camping, even for multiple nights?

If you have permission to use your school field (or any other area) for camping, then this is acceptable under the new temporary flexibilities. Journeying from, and returning to, the same camping area each night is also allowed.

Does this mean that a Gold expedition can be in my local area even if it’s not wild country?

Yes, expeditions at Gold level will not have to enter wild country. However, any expedition should try to meet the outcomes of the section – remoteness may be difficult to achieve but should be considered, and Gold level teams should still be encouraged to have a higher level of challenge.

Do I need an Accredited Expedition Assessor to be present on a practice expedition, to support those who will use the practice as their qualifier?

As practice expeditions are not under qualifying conditions, they will not require an Accredited Expedition Assessor, even if being used for a qualifying expedition.

However, in order to ensure the outcomes of the section are met, the Expedition Supervisor for the practice expedition must provide a short statement which is added as ‘evidence’ (not an Assessor’s Report) to the participant’s Expedition section in eDofE. This statement will confirm that the practice expedition has been completed and used for the participant’s qualifying expedition, and that the outcomes of the Expedition section have been met as best they can.

We’ve put together eDofE guidance on evidencing the temporary changes.

Do I still need to make sure that the practice environment is similar to the qualifying environment (for Silver and Gold level expeditions)?

The practice expedition is part of the team’s preparation to successfully complete a remotely supervised qualifying expedition.

If a practice is only able to be completed in normal rural countryside, then this would not be suitable preparation for a ‘wild country’ expedition; therefore the practice expedition must still replicate as closely as possible the conditions of the qualifying expedition.

Do I still need to complete a Green form for my Gold expedition to obtain a notification number?

If you are planning an expedition in a wild country area, then you are still required to complete a Green Form and you will be given a notification number which you can enter on eDofE.

If you are planning a Gold level expedition outside of a wild country area then you do not need to submit a form and will not need to enter a notification number on eDofE.

Can I run a Bronze qualifying expedition at the same time as a Silver practice expedition?

Yes, but all Silver practice expeditions must be a minimum of two days and two nights in order to adequately prepare teams for their Silver qualifying expedition (even if they are also being used as a Bronze qualifying expedition).

Young people who are not registered for their Silver programme and are just completing a Bronze qualifying expedition only need to complete two days and one night.

If centres are mixing teams then minimum team numbers will still need to be met, even if this means some participants have an extra night beyond the duration of a Bronze qualifying expedition.

If we’re unable to use campsites or shared indoor accommodation due to Government guidance or local risk assessments, can participants return home overnight during the expedition?

Whilst campsites remain closed in some parts of the UK and shared indoor accommodation may not be available (or your centre may not allow their use), it is allowable for teams at all Award levels to return home to sleep during their expedition. They should however still plan and cook their meals as a team, and of course meet the minimum hours of planned activity during each day. When campsites and other shared accommodation options are available again to groups, we expect them to be used so that participants can benefit from the full experience and learning outcomes of the Expedition section.

If participants have not included overnight camping as part of their training but the situation then changes, enabling them to use it for their qualifying, they will still need to complete the appropriate campcraft training.

What are the minimum timescales for a practice expedition?

At Bronze, the practice expedition is optional. However, each participant needs to be sufficiently trained to do a remotely supervised qualifying expedition safely and enjoyably by completing the Bronze Expedition Training Framework.

At Silver and Gold, the minimum timescales for a practice expedition are two days and two nights. Participants must still complete a practice expedition prior to their qualifying expedition at both levels. Please bear in mind that, if your group is using their Silver practice expedition as their Bronze qualifying expedition, the expedition must be two days and two nights to meet the Silver practice expedition requirements. Additionally, if your group is using their Gold practice expedition as their Silver qualifying expedition, the expedition must be three days and two nights to meet the Silver qualifying expedition requirements. In both cases, the longer timescales must be met.

How long will I be able to apply the temporary changes to my expeditions?

All temporary changes will apply until 31 July 2021.

Can I use a minibus to transport my participants between the campsite and the start and finish points of their route?

We understand that overnight options may have changed and that, as a result, the start and finish points of participants’ routes may be distant from their campsite or indoor accommodation. Indoor accommodation options such as school or church halls might also be in locations that would necessitate significant journeying through more urban areas.

So, for expeditions taking place before 31 July 2021, Leaders can use motorised transport to take participants to the start point of their route and pick them up at their end point.

Travel to and from the expedition location each day is additional to the required hours of activity time.

When will expeditions resume?

It’s now clear that the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may mean LOs and AAPs face barriers in delivering ‘traditional’ expeditions for some time. Whilst restrictions are easing in some parts of the UK, each DofE centre will need to follow the specific guidance and rules for their sector, and their own local policies and procedures, when planning expeditions.

Guidance for centres in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will vary. You must follow the restrictions in place in the country you intend to visit.

If you are delivering the DofE in England, the DfE has issued guidance and the National Youth Agency has also published information for managing youth sector activities.

If you are delivering the DofE in Scotland, please review the guidance issued by the Scottish GovernmentYouth Scotland and/or Youth Link Scotland, as appropriate.

If you are delivering the DofE in Wales, please review the guidance issued by the Welsh Government.

If you are delivering the DofE in Northern Ireland, please review the guidance issued by EANI and the recovery plan outlined by the NI Executive, as well as information on outdoor recreation.

As a DofE Leader, how do I evidence any temporary changes we have used?

We’ve put together eDofE guidance on allowing participants to proceed as non-direct entrants at the next level and on evidencing expedition changes.

Do participants need to carry all of their expedition kit, including food, if they are going home to sleep?

Expeditions must be self-sufficient so, even though participants are going home to sleep, they need to carry appropriate expedition kit. Participants should carry some form of shelter and warmth in case of emergency, although this could be a survival shelter rather than a tent. Participants should also carry all of the food and clothing that they will need for the whole expedition.

Can a team complete their expedition in an urban area?

We have temporarily relaxed the rules around recommended environments, so participants don’t have to leave their local area to complete an expedition. For some participants, their local area might be an urban environment.

Participants can complete an expedition in an urban area. It may be appropriate for participants to spend a greater proportion of time investigating their aim, and they should plan to travel through a range of environments e.g. parkland, commons and waterways. If these environments do not permit the use of a stove, participants should be transported to/from a location, such as their school or youth group grounds, where they can cook a hot meal at an appropriate time during the expedition. For example, on a Bronze expedition this might be at the end of the first day before participants go home to sleep.

If a practice expedition is completed in an urban area, then the qualifying expedition must be done in the same environment i.e. urban not rural. The purpose of a practice expedition is to prepare young people for their qualifying expedition, so the conditions of both expeditions should be as similar as possible.

Each DofE centre will need to follow the relevant Government advice for the area where the expedition is taking place, specific guidance and rules for their sector and their own local policies and procedures when planning any expeditions.

My group will be using their Gold practice expedition as their Silver qualifying expedition. Do they need to do a Silver practice expedition before this?

Yes. At Gold and Silver levels, practice expeditions are an important part of the preparation and training participants carry out to ensure that they can undertake a safe and enjoyable remotely supervised expedition. For that reason, all Gold and Silver participants will still have to do both a practice and qualifying expedition.

My group will be using their Gold practice expedition as their Silver qualifying expedition. How long does the expedition need to be?

If a Gold practice expedition is being used as the Silver qualifying expedition, it must meet the requirements of the Silver qualifying expedition (three days and two nights).