General Expedition FAQs
Can an Assessor defer specific individuals in a group?

The Expedition section is about developing teamwork and success is dependent on the whole team completing the expedition. If a team finishes their expedition and meets the Expedition Requirements, they have successfully completed their expedition. Assessors cannot pick out individual participants as being unsuccessful if they have made it to the end of their expedition.

If an individual persistently and deliberately flouts the behaviour expectations outlined in the DofE Expedition Guide and the Expedition Requirements, they may be deferred during the expedition, but issues with individual participants must be resolved during the expedition, not after it.

If a Qualifying expedition is cut short for a participant or whole expedition team due to reasons such as an injury, personal commitments or bad weather, could the Assessor still pass the expedition?

Unfortunately no, an Assessor couldn’t pass a participant or group if they hadn’t met the Expedition Requirements. The expedition must be of the correct duration and meet the minimum hours of planned activity.

  • Bronze: A minimum of 2 days, 1 night; 6 hours planned activity each day.
  • Silver: A minimum of 3 days, 2 nights; 7 hours planned activity each day.
  • Gold: A minimum of 4 days, 3 nights; 8 hours planned activity each day.

At Silver and Gold, this also applies for Practice expeditions as the minimum of 2 nights and 2 days must be met.

Having to leave an Expedition early is understandably very disappointing and potentially upsetting for those involved. As with all experiences, there are unforeseen events that mean some may not be able to complete on this occasion, but it is important that we preserve the quality of the section by maintaining our programme rules and ensuring parity of experience.

You can offer support by reminding the participant(s) that they have until their 25th birthday to complete the Award. If they are unable to attend another Expedition with their Licensed Organisation, there are lots of Open Expeditions to explore. The DofE Manager can still celebrate their achievements via sectional certificates and the Certificate of Achievement. If the expedition was cancelled due to bad weather, then you can direct the Supervisor to the DofE Expedition Guide, which has advice on planning bad weather routes for future expeditions.

Are there any guidelines on upper heat limits allowed for the Expedition aspect of the DofE to ensure that participants aren’t likely to suffer from heat exhaustion?

We don’t set an upper heat limit as some DofE expeditions are completed in very hot environments around the world such as deserts and jungles, and it would be difficult to set a ‘limit’. However, guidance can be found in the DofE Expedition Guide which says “participants need to be aware of the risk of exercise-induced heat exhaustion and ensure they take on frequent and adequate fluid throughout the day. Every participant should set out…carrying at least two litres of water with them, more if it is a hot day. If necessary, this can be topped up by the Supervisors”. If necessary, Supervisors can position themselves at points throughout the day with water to help ‘top-up’ the groups’ supplies. As with all expeditions the Expedition Supervisor must also ensure that they follow the Health and Safety requirements of their Licensed Organisation and ensure participants have the training and equipment to deal with the weather and temperatures they might encounter (e.g. wide brimmed hats, sun cream etc).

Does the DofE offer any advice for Leaders supporting transgender young people on expedition?

Considerations will need to be made during the planning stage of an expedition to ensure transgender young people feel able to take part in the same way other young people do, particularly in the case of overnight accommodation and facilities. The Supervisor should consider this in consultations with the Licensed Organisation, the participant and their parents/guardians where appropriate and must always adhere to their organisation’s policies.

The Outdoor Education Advisory Panel provides national guidance for adults and how they can support their transgender young people on trips and visits.

Could a Bronze expedition be spread out over three days to do three hours during a Friday afternoon, six hours on Saturday and three hours on a Sunday morning, for example?

No. It is essential for facilitating the outcomes of the Expedition section that participants complete a full day (six hours for Bronze level) of activity away from the campsite. This is to ensure that they have sufficient time to have to work together knowing there is a full day ahead of them whilst being remotely supervised. Three hours does not allow sufficient time for meaningful outcomes to be fully developed. Spreading the expedition out over three days is less demanding than completing it in two days.

What is the maximum rucksack weight limit relating to body size/weight/stature on a DofE expedition?

The DofE Expedition Guide states ‘a quarter of the participant’s own body weight.’ The DofE Expedition Guide also includes guidance on packing the rucksack which is also a key factor in the expedition success and enjoyment.

What should the Supervisor do if there is a really bad weather forecast when a team is due to be out on expedition?

The safety and welfare of participants should always come first when assessing poor weather conditions, but it is also important to consider the likely enjoyment of the team as well. Supervisors will need to follow their LO health and safety/risk assessments, but here are some suggested actions they might take:

  • If the weather is forecast to be poor, check the local forecast for the expedition area, as it may be different to the DofE centre’s weather.
  • Contact the Licensed Organisation and see if any special weather warnings or decisions have been put in place. The Supervisor must follow the LO policy and procedures for expeditions in poor weather or winter conditions.
  • Consider the team’s training and experience of expeditions in the expected weather conditions.
  • Consider the team’s expedition equipment and if it is adequate for the expected weather conditions.
  • The Supervisor should review their supervision plan to ensure they are confident they will still be able to supervise their team remotely. They may have to consider supervising more closely at certain points or consider if they can move around the area effectively on both roads and the expedition terrain.
  • The Supervisor should review their risk assessment, the team’s alternative weather routes, emergency escape routes and emergency procedures to ensure that they are all still adequate for the expected weather conditions.
  • It can be helpful to contact the planned campsites to determine if they are open, they can be reached, they have running water and so on. National Parks may also have information up on their websites or try to contact them directly for local information.
  • The Supervisor needs to make a decision; if they decide to postpone the expedition, then they should follow their normal communication procedures to ensure everybody is informed.
How many staff should there be on a DofE expedition?

DofE teams, centres and AAPs need to follow the guidance set out by the Licensed Organisation the young people are registered to. Staff numbers, ratios and requirements vary between different organisations.

Is there any guidance to support DofE participants who may be completing expeditions during Ramadan?

Leaders and Expedition Supervisors will need to liaise with young people and their parents to discuss arrangements for expeditions taking place during Ramadan. Ultimately, safety is paramount to ensure that, should young people choose to observe fasting, they are safe to do so. Many participants have been able to complete their expedition whilst fasting and for others, it can be more demanding.

Participants may decide whether they wish to fast during the expedition or not. After conversations with their Iman, many participants have decided to break their fast as completing a journey, or travelling, is an exception to fasting. If they are feeling unwell, dehydrated, etc, during the trip, then their leaders will need to provide advice about the best course of action that will ensure their health and well-being and adhere to their organisation’s risk assessments and offsite safety policies. Leaders can also arrange prayer space, carry prayer mats for participants, and arrange toilet and washing facilities at the campsite as appropriate.

It’s important to remember that participants will be fasting during daylight hours. This means that supervisors must facilitate a safe cooking and eating space during hours of darkness, either early in the morning or late at night.

How flexible is the expedition season? Would a UK November expedition that complied with our LO be acceptable?

The Expedition Requirements say, ‘the expedition will usually take place between the end of March and the end of October’. This requirement deliberately uses ‘usually’, not ‘must’ to allow flexibility to be applied.

All expeditions must fulfil the safety requirements of the LO and be approved by the LO, irrespective of when they take place. The DofE suggests the expedition season to promote safety and to help ensure that expeditions are enjoyable for participants. Expedition teams will need additional training and equipment to complete their practice expedition in conditions likely to be similar to those expedited in the qualifying expedition.

Can participants start their training for their Gold expedition before they turn 16?

Expedition training is a sign of competence, and the important factor is when this competence is checked. Participants can use skills and training they have picked up from before their 16th birthday and when the skills were gained is not critical, as long as the competence is checked, evidenced and signed off when they are 16, usually after their practice expedition. Participants need to be 16 and enrolled onto their Gold Award to start on the compulsory parts of their expedition section including their practice and qualifying expeditions.

Can practice expedition teams have more than seven people in them?

No. The DofE Expedition Guide states that ‘practice expedition(s) must replicate as closely as possible the conditions of the actual expedition.’

Can a practice expedition be done with an organisation that is not an AAP, as long as the qualifying is?

No, as the practice expedition is part of the DofE expedition section at Silver and Gold levels, it must be completed with an Approved Activity Provider or Licensed Organisation.

Can teams use recreation rooms if the campsite has them?

Absolutely not. This statement has been added to the DofE Expedition Guide, “DofE teams may use basic facilities such as drying rooms and toilets/showers. Use of other facilities (usually found on larger tourist sites) such as games rooms, bars, cafes, shops, and swimming pools are not in keeping with DofE expeditions. Teams need to remain as isolated as possible while on public or busy campsites.’

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