Duke of Edinburgh's Award: Getting Lost in the Woods, but Learning a Lot
by Yiqing Chen, Abi1
The first trial expedition for the Gold Award took place this year at the end of March in the woody hinterland not far from Spetzgart Castle.

The coronavirus is nothing to stop us Salem students. On 21-22 March 2021 our year group took part in the first trial expedition of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DoE) Gold level. For their DoE, participants must plan a route for three trial expeditions and one final expedition in small groups and complete these entirely on their own. Our supervisors only check on us at certain checkpoints. We also cook our own meals. On the night before the hiking tour we slept in tents on the sports field of Spetzgart Castle and set off the next day in nine groups for the 20 mile hike. After a very cold night, the weather during the day was dry, but remained quite chilly.

With a map and a compass into the woods

Without GPS, without internet service, equipped only with a map and a compass, my fellow students and I got lost in the woods until, after some time, we were able to find our way back to the planned route. Because we can learn from our mistakes, I think we will have a better sense of direction in the future. Even though the tent, sleeping bags, camping mats, mess kit, food supplies and first aid kits were fairly heavy, I insisted on taking along a camera. The beautiful countryside made it worthwhile capturing everything on photos. This Duke experience has made us more helpful toward each other. And our hike through the fields and woods brought us closer to nature. It was tiring, but we had a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to the next expedition!