I had the privilege of accompanying The Mount, Mill Hill International pupils on their Duke of Edinburgh final assessment this weekend. For those new to the Duke of Edinburgh programme, pupils prepare for the award over the year; it has four sections, volunteering, physical, skills and expedition. They prepare, plan and train for the final two-day (and one night) expedition.
The values of the DofE awards (there are Bronze, Silver and Gold awards) are well-documented and achieving an award gives young people skills, confidence and a view on life that everyone is looking for, from schools, colleges and universities to employers. But the main skill that I witnessed this weekend was working together as a team.
The expedition was tough, not only because of the distance (13 and 12 kilometres each day); they were independently navigating, using map skills and, most importantly, team work to help them get from the start to the finish of the hike. It was wonderful to see how the individual team members collaborated making sure each of their contributions were equally valued. Team morale was maintained throughout, with team members motivating those who were struggling.
I learnt much over the weekend. Seeing the pupils out of school in a context where they were leading and in control made me realise how much they have gained living and studying together over the year. I also learnt that many of the pupils have far better navigational skills than me!