Blog 17.02.20

Considerations for when organising a DofE expedition

Expedition Leaders should use the Expedition Guide (available from DofE Essentials via eDofE) and the resources available here when preparing teams for their expeditions.

Here’s a collection of tips which may be useful for expedition organisers to bear in mind in the coming months;

Three young women in green field on expedition wearing rucksacks

Check and set provisional dates for the expedition

Look at the school or club calendar and see what dates are free for expeditions. Try to avoid clashing with school trips or local events that may mean participants are forced to choose between activities.

Pick potential locations for the expedition

Look at the areas around where groups can carry out their expedition, based on the aim they have agreed as a team. To reduce the environmental impact of minibus travel, look for areas near to your centre where groups can carry out their expedition. Make sure it meets the requirements of the DofE level they are undertaking in terms of providing the right challenge. Have a look for camp sites in the area and check that they accept DofE groups.

Book camp site(s)

Check availability and book the camp site(s). You’ll need to do a risk assessment for the venue(s) to meet the requirements of your Licensed Organisation (LO) and, if in a school, the Educational Visits Co-ordinators (EVC), so check what they need to see.

Get your staff team confirmed

Let the leadership team know the dates for the expedition and ask for help. Ensure you have the right amount of staff for the amount of participants going (dependent on your LO rules and regulations). You’ll need to check the level of training and expertise of the leadership team to ensure you have enough qualified adults to meet your LO’s requirements. If there are any gaps in training or refresher training is needed, book this is now so that it is in place prior to the expedition.

Source an Expedition Assessor for the qualifying expedition

This needs to be a DofE Accredited Assessor and, for Silver and Gold expeditions, they cannot be someone who has been involved in the direct training of the participants. If it is an Assessor external to the school or organisation check that the Assessor has registered to assess for the LO via eDofE. Also check whether your centre has any set policy on volunteers, i.e. volunteer DBS, as this will need to be done prior to the expedition, so allow enough time for this to come back. Ensure you have set clear expectations with the Assessor at this stage – when you will send them expedition documents to review (route cards, menu plans, project theme etc), when do you need them to meet with the group prior to expedition, a deadline/timeframe in which to have submitted Assessor Reports after the expedition etc.

Organise travel arrangements

Ensure that there are clear travel arrangements in place to cope with the number of participants going. This will either be by booking transport, i.e. minibuses, or ensuring that you have located a clear drop off and pick up point for parents/guardians to use.

Kit inventory

Complete an inventory of what kit you can use from your group’s equipment stores, and the condition it is in. Consider whether there is enough for all the teams going out. Does any of it need repairing or replacing? If so, ensure that this is done prior to the expedition costing in case you need to add in some extra cost for the participants. Offers on spares and repairs services can be found here.

Finalise costings

Finalise costings for the expedition, factoring in camp site fees, travel costs, and any other expected costs occurred as a result of the expedition.

Letters to parents

Send a letter to the parents of all participants with details of the expedition, the cost (if not already included in enrolment process), and the details of transport. By getting these dates and arrangements out early to parents it’s easier to discover which participants are unable to make this date and what teams will be going out. Include a consent form with the letter to ensure all the details are gathered in advance.

Submit paperwork through to the LO/EVC/approval method (as appropriate) for all expeditions

Ensure all details of the trip, risk assessments, number of attendees etc. are submitted to the LO/EVC via your internal systems for approval so that any amendments/adjustments, if necessary, can be made in a timely manner. If you’re running a Gold expedition, or your planned expeditions are entering into an area of wild country, please ensure you complete an online Green Form to notify the DofE. For overseas expeditions you will need to complete a Blue Form. All notification forms (including expedition variations) can be found here.

Expedition training for participants

Complete expedition training following the appropriate DofE Training Framework. These topics can be covered over a series of lunchtime/after-school sessions or on a weekend. Ensure this is logged on eDofE for all participants who attended using the Expedition Set Up option. Expedition training resources can be found here.

Practice expedition

Complete the practice expedition, if required.

Debrief and reflect

Consider how the practice expedition went. Is there anything that needs changing prior to the qualifying expedition? Has all the kit been returned in good order? Were any training gaps evident with the participants during the practice? If so, consider putting on a refresher training session. Upload details of the practice using the Expedition Set Up function on eDofE for all participants who have attended.

Route plans and final preparation for the qualifying expedition

This is a chance for the teams to make their route plans, menu plans and project plans for their final qualifying expedition.

Pre-expedition check

The Supervisor’s pre-expedition check will ensure that teams are adequately equipped and prepared for their expedition. It will highlight any last-minute problems so allow enough time between this and the qualifying for these to be rectified (at least 7 – 10 days before the qualifying).

The Assessor’s pre-expedition check is a chance for the Assessor to meet the team(s) they are assessing,review their
route choices with them and verify with the team many of the 20 Conditions (usually the day before, or morning of, the expedition). A final kit check should take place so that you can be sure the participants have everything they will need.

Qualifying expedition and debrief

Complete the qualifying expedition and participant debrief (led by the Expedition Assessor). Remember to check that all kit is returned afterwards and is in good condition. Review your Supervision Plans and risk assessments, and submit any incident reports as necessary.

Expedition presentations (not required at Bronze)

Each group needs a time to prepare and present their presentation (if appropriate) from their qualifying expedition. It is best to give participants a clear deadline for this and a slot to present or submit it.

Expedition set up

Ensure that all the Expedition Set Up fields on eDofE are completed for all participants who have done their expedition.

Assessor Reports

Ensure all Assessors have submitted Assessor’s Reports for the groups they assessed. Check that the Assessor’s accreditation number is included in the report.

Submit Expedition section

Once all of the details for every stage of the Expedition section has been completed, this section can be submitted.