Who is eligible to complete a Duke of Edinburgh award?

Any young person is eligible to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme if they comply with the following:

  • You must be registered with the award, which usually occurs through the school or organisation you’ll be doing this through.
  • Bronze you must be 13 upwards
  • Silver 14 upwards and
  • Gold you have to be 16 upwards

Normally, people do the DofE through their school where they will have a DofE Leader – that’s the person that registers you onto the award, gives you your info pack and, gets you set up online for your eDofE.

Sam Sykes can be brought in the run the expedition and residential components of the DofE award.

Is there an alternative way to begin a DofE Award outside of school?

As an alternative you can do it through The Scouts, The Guides, CCF and most youth organisation nation wide.

Also, the Duke of Edinburgh’s award have an online portal so that, if you as an individual haven’t got a group in which to operate in, you can also do it yourself online, so you don’t have to be connected to any group.

Do you have to do a practice expedition for DofE?

For all the expedition sections of the award there must be a component of training, and a practice, before you can go on to assessed.

The main reason we do this is to ensure that the young people going on to an expedition (which will be a remotely supervised expedition) have had the appropriate training to give them the skills to complete that safely.

The practice is so they can consolidate their skills so that they’re ready for assessment.

It’s in the DofE rules, they are there to ensure that people are ready for the real thing

What is the DofE Expedition?

The expedition is one of the component parts of all three levels of the DofE at bronze, silver, and gold.

What it’s designed to do is to take young people and put them into teams of their peers, to take part in an adventurous journey of some sort. That could be walking, horse riding, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, sailing or a mixture of them. There’s loads options, but the most common one is a walking expedition.

There will be some training, and a practice expedition, then an assessed. On the assessed expedition, which is the one that you must pass, you’ll have an assessor as well as a supervisor looking after your safety.

The assessors’ job is to ensure that you meet the 20 conditions of the DofE expedition. It’s all quite straightforward, common sense stuff.

You can find all this information online, but ultimately these groups of young people will look after themselves for the duration of their assessed expedition, being 2 days at bronze, 3 days at silver and, 4 days at gold.

They need to look after themselves and their team, with their own kit, and be completely self reliant.

How far do you have to walk for DofE Expedition?

It’s no longer about a set distance that people need to do, what we’re looking at now is hours of activity so,

  • At  bronze level we’re looking at 6 hours of activity on each assessment day.
  • Silver we’re looking at 7 hours
  • At gold, you’re looking at 8 hours

So there’s an increase in the amount of time you need to be active doing stuff on your expedition on each assessed day.

Also, when you go from bronze, to silver, to gold, the terrain will become more challenging as well. It’s a double hit in regards to how you go up this ladder of challenge.

Can you start Gold DofE before finishing Silver?

The answer is yes you can but, it means  that you would have to do direct entry gold, because you’ve not completed your silver. This means that you’ve got to spend an extra 6 months doing one of the sections to be able to go on and finish your gold.

What we always strongly advise everyone to do is to complete the previous award before moving on to the next one.

However, there are circumstances where it’s just not possible, and people have got to the age where they want to progress onto gold more quickly and get it done in time, in which case that’s what direct gold is there for.

How much water do you need for DofE?

It depends entirely on the location of the expedition and the prevailing weather conditions. Obviously, the hotter it is the more water you need to drink in a day.

The key thing, when you come out with Sam Sykes ltd, is that your instructor will advise you on how much water you’ll need on a case-by-case basis.

We’ll ensure that you have a source of water but, it’s always good to at least come with a litre and a half to two litres of water on any expedition.

That should see you through drinking water for most applications. However, if you’re super warm you’ll need to carry more, or you’ll need to go to a source we can get more water during your expedition.

How should I pack for DofE?

The key thing with DofE is that, whatever you bring with you you’ll need to carry it so, it’s about keeping it light, and it’s about bringing what you need.

The Sam Sykes website has some really good videos on personal kit, and how to pack a rucksack, which will give you a good idea but, the key thing is, if you look at all the kit that you have, strip it back to it’s bare essentials as per the kit list, and try and take off any unnecessary stuff.

  • If there’s excess packaging on your food that you don’t need, take it off.
  • If you have got some boots, and you want to bring another set of footwear for a longer expedition, just bring some flip flops. Don’t bring another pair of trainers.
  • You do not need lots of toiletries, one tube of toothpaste will easily deal with 7 people over a five-day gold expedition so you don’t need one each.
  • You won’t need lots of deodorants and all that sort of stuff, if any at all.
  • Stick to the kit list, don’t go beyond it.
  • Come on your training and practice. Your instructor will go through your kit with you and advise you on what you could have left at home which is all part of the learning process

What do you need in a DofE first aid kit?

Sam Sykes ltd provides all of its teams with a group first aid kit, which is to be used in an emergency or incident.

In regards to first aid kits that individual participants bring, you need to look at covering the most obvious things. You need to look at bringing:

  • Plasters
  • Certainly some blister plasters
  • Bandages

You don’t need to bring an enormous first aid kit because we will provide you with a substantial one for your team and train your how to use it.

What is a wash kit, and what should I have in it?

Wash kit wise, when you come on a DofE Expedition, it’s just about keeping it simple.

  • You’ll need some way of cleaning yourself so maybe a bar of soap, or half a bar of soap is all you’re ever going to need. Or, if you’ve got liquid soap, put it in a container that isn’t going to burst in your rucksack.
  • You’ll need a lightweight towel that will dry easily. Don’t bring a great big beach towel because that’s going to fill up most of your bag and, there won’t necessarily be lots of opportunities to take showers on expedition. And actually, most participants do go through it without having a shower, though there are certain times we use campsites where it is a possibility.
  • You’ll need a toothbrush. And talking about keeping everything light; you can cut your toothbrush in half just to keep it small, compact, and light.
  • You’ll need a little bit of toothpaste. Take the end of a tube, don’t take a brand new one.
  • Deodorant? Ask yourself do you really really need it?
  • In regards to feminine hygiene products, take what you need. You can always contact us directly to speak to one of our female instructors about what’s best.

What should I sleep on for DofE?

When camping on a DofE expedition, you’re going to be in tents. We provide everybody doing their expedition with  a roll mat. This will be a foam  mat between 5 and 6mm thick.

You’re more than welcome to bring your own camping mats, they’re pretty common in most gear shops so, go find one that you like, that’s comfortable, and bring it with you.

We work with the retailer ‘Go Outdoors’ where you can get a great range of DofE recommended kit, including sleeping mats.

Or, you can just get one from us when you come on your expedition.

What should I wear for DofE?

You’re going to be operating outside, you’re going to be active, and the weather could be hot and sunny or it could be cold and wet, and we don’t really know until we actually get to the expedition. So, you need to wear clothing appropriate for any eventuality on an expedition.

That means, almost certainly no cotton, especially in the UK. When cotton gets wet, whether that’s through rain, or sweat, it dries very slowly. The problem is, once you stop moving, if you’re in wet clothing you get cold very quickly – That’s very dangerous. So, jeans, cotton hoodies, cotton t-shirts anything like that, are just not useful at all on UK expeditions.

Recommended DofE Clothing

  • What you need to try and find is man-made fibre clothing, or Merino wool clothing. Clothing that, when they get wet, will dry quickly or, even if they are wet, will keep you warm. If you remove all cotton, that’s your first big step on getting the right kit. Football shirt material is the type of thing that we’re looking for, anything that is quick to dry and stuff that’s light.
  • Fleeces / fibre pile type jackets are perfect.
  • You’ll definitely need to have waterproofs as per the kit list.
  • Padded skiing jackets are not suited to DofE expeditions.
  • It’s about lots and lots of thin layers that are all light weight, that you can interchange for any weather condition. That’s what’s going to keep you successful through your expedition.


  • You need to come with boots that go up and above the ankle to support it, otherwise, you won’t be able to do an expedition with Sam Sykes ltd. That’s a safety factor for us.
  • The boots need to be, most importantly, comfortable for you to wear.
  • Don’t go out the day before the expedition and buy a pair of boots and then wonder why you are getting blisters. Boots, even the new ones, still need to be worn in and ‘broken in’ around the house, or on a walk around your local area, just so that when you come on expedition, you’re set up for success

Who runs DofE groups?

Different organisations, clubs, and educational establishments usually run, or offer the Duke of Edinburgh award. There’ll usually be somebody within the organisation who is the DofE leader, and if you can find that person, they’ll be able to give you advice on joining with them.

If you’re trying to find a place to do your DofE, a good place to start is is the DofE website. That will take you through to somebody local that you can join in with.

What is a DofE leader?

A DofE leader is usually somebody that’s in charge of the DofE at a particular organisation, or entity. They will have had some training from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award on how to fulfil their role, and they’ll be able to answer any questions that you may have in regards to DofE, or at least point you in the right direction of getting that information.

If you’re a leader looking for assistance, at Sam Sykes ltd we are set up to provide the expedition and residential sections of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award.

We specialise in working with schools. We can take care of everything regarding the expedition. We offer simple packages so that school’s can just ring me and say ‘we need expeditions on these dates for this many participants’ and we do absolutely everything… the kit, the logistics, the staffing – with fully qualified, extremely professional individuals on all of our courses.

How do I become a DofE expedition assessor?

If you’ve got the appropriate experience in the type of expedition you wish to assess, you need to contact the Duke of Edinburgh’s award and go on an assessor course. You’ll need to fill out the paperwork, and do all the background checks.

The best thing I can say is to go on the DofE website and it will take you through the process.

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