Bronze DofE Expedition with a difference!

The bronze Duke of Edinburgh participants have been working hard during lockdown to prepare for their onsite expedition.

All of them chose to volunteer with Mr Magowan to assist in identifying and rectifying any damaged equipment from the DofE store. There were many tents put up over the weeks of lockdown and other duties to bring the building back to life and their input made a real difference – as a volunteering activity, it was perfect!

The expedition with a difference was just that, different! Due to restrictions, Mr. Magowan had a creative license to make it interesting, different and challenging. To deliver something that could meet the aims of the expedition and the 20 conditions set by the organisation was difficult, but it was achieved with some adjusting of resources and a little imagination.

The participants planned a trail on-site and created a map with written instructions to mimic planning a route. Their non-verbal communication skills were tested and their interpretation of maps was developed.
Mr Jake Gartside kindly came in to deliver first aid training including scenario-based discussions in various locations around the site. These were to build on their current understanding of first aid in the outdoors and the typical incidents they may need to deal with, such as; Hypo/Hyperthermia, twists, breaks, cuts, cold water shock, anaphylaxis, allergic reactions, shock, and emergency call-out procedures.

As the day began to close, the participants set up camp on the playing field behind the Church. This allowed them to be out of the wind and to be exposed to as much sunlight in the west until sunset – a very smart move and totally their decision.

Setting up the tents was fun. There were a few issues with poles and zips but it was sorted out relatively quickly. Some of the participants had not camped out before and for the others; some had, but not in early March, next to the sea!

Once they had completed the tasks for the first day, they were given the freedom to conduct their personal administration, to get food, sort out their bedding and prepare for darkness to close in. As the temperature began to drop the participants were keen to get a fire going. Mr Magowan decided to show them different methods of creating fire, it was an informative session and this really captured their imagination. Once the wood was collected, one of the participants volunteered to light the group fire, demonstrating the basics regarding location, ground protection and setting the materials for ignition.

As the clouds dissipated, the stars began to twinkle. This was an excellent opportunity to work on natural navigation and star recognition, some of them were amazed how easy it was to find the polar star and what constellations to line up for direction finding. We then went on a night walk around the site and this helped demonstrate group communications in darkness, including collecting additional fire wood.

Despite the cooler evening temperature most of the participants decided to sit up late around the campfire. For some, they had never sat around a campfire and making memories is important! The coldest it got was 1 degree about mid-morning.

0715hrs in the morning the alarm went off and out of their tents they slowly rose…(very slowly, indeed). Stripping down tents, packing equipment away and a final litter sweep saw the participants leave the camping area to prepare for the activities ahead.

Saturday morning saw the participants conduct their physical element. This was a timed bike riding along the lower promenade, working to specific times as teams. The task went very well and they returned windswept and with red faces.

The last activity was to find water onsite and learn how to filter it for drinking, using various methods. This task demonstrated that it’s a must to always filter and boil from most water sources. We discussed and challenged their thinking and understanding of the subject, giving valid and known examples of how and where to collect water and how to make the best of the natural and manmade materials found in nature to muster up vital fluids for drinking.

Finally, returning the tents, sleeping systems and head torches that were provided was the last function of the day.

All participants successfully completed their DofE Bronze expedition. They completed over 17 kilometers on foot and 12 miles on a bicycle each, over the two days. They were exposed to first aid, planning, creating a camp craft, fire making, natural navigation, self-care in the outdoors, fire safety, physical fitness, bushcraft and equipment care and maintenance. But more importantly, they were barred from their phones for the expedition to prevent distraction and to allow them to communicate and bond as a team.

Overall, the expedition was a huge success. A huge thank you to the catering staff, CCF staff and maintenance staff for their contribution and facilitating the expedition including a special mention for Mrs Santamera who slept out and supervised the participants during the dark hours, and Mr Pilkington and Mr Baldwin who supervised and assisted with lessons on both days. These experiences for the participants are not possible without volunteers and staff coming together to make an expedition like this a success. Thank you!

Well done to the following DofE Bronze participants:



Lee Magowan BA (Hons), MBA
Officer Commanding CCF – “Nec Aspera Terrent” – “Faugh a Ballagh”
Manager – Duke of Edinburgh AwardsDirector of Adventure Leadership