story 05.11.2021

Participants investigate the environmental impacts of lockdown during their local expedition

We spoke with the DofE Manager at Marine Academy, Plymouth, about how they ran their expeditions with a difference.

1. What were the expedition aims?

Expedition aims centred on pollution from household waste and its effects. The groups thought it would be interesting to investigate the local environmental impact of national lockdowns.

2. What did the expedition look like?

On the first day of the Bronze expedition, participants were transported from the DofE centre to the local creek to begin their expedition. Over the course of the day participants journeyed back to the DofE centre, and then pitched their tents and cooked before going home overnight. On the second day, participants started and finished their route at the DofE centre.

“With DofE with a Difference we were able to do our expedition in our local area – we were fortunate to be able to use local creeks and coastal paths.”

3. What did you need to consider to organise and lead this expedition?

“We were playing catch up in the summer of 2020 to get through our Bronze award students from the 2019/20 and 2020/21 Bronze cohorts. We had lost a number of students due to the ‘Covid’ effect – some students just did not want to engage anymore. In total we had 25 students for the expedition.”

There were a broad range of considerations to take into account, including the greater use of roads in more residential areas around the DofE centre and therefore the increased likelihood of participants meeting members of the public. The DofE Manager commented that local residents thought it was great to see young people out doing their expeditions, and that all DofE participants had been very polite.

“Costs have been greatly reduced by being allowed to use our ‘in-house’ Assessors. We have also been able to utilise more staff through volunteering because of local locations. It has made organising expeditions easier and cheaper.”

4. As a Leader, what did you notice about the outcomes for participants doing this expedition?

The DofE Manager told us that the expedition was a success. Participants still found their local area a challenging environment and were able to be isolated and self-sufficient when journeying.

“Students found out about themselves and did not give in even if they wanted to – friends helped them along and teamwork was very good. Parents were very grateful and thankful.”

The DofE Manager also commented that the local area is deprived. “Participating in the DofE Bronze Award alone was a huge achievement for those taking part. Awards of any kind have, historically, not been important. We have worked hard to reverse this trend and it is starting to pay off with students volunteering with friends and in groups.”