The curse of DofE

>>  Monday, January 20, 2020

There was recently a press round discussing the Lake District, that it is 'too white and middle-class'  and 'wants to adjust the nature of the Lake District to diversify and attract a younger demographic, more from ethnic minorities and encourage visitors with disability.'

Well that set the cat amongst the pigeons in the nimby back yard - my experience at Scafell Pike was that there was representation of ethnic minorities but mostly anywhere I walk it is white, middle class, middle (and older) aged people.

So where are all the poorer people: priced out of it.  Public transport is not great, accommodation is expensive, hostels book up fast and kit that makes it easier is costly.

But where are all the younger people (that do have the money to get there, stay there and buy the kit!) - given up walking that's where and I'm going to blame DofE.  I have a high percentage of girls in my unit going through DofE at any one time.

Those that don't mind a good walk in the country aren't put off by the idea of an expedition, some of them even rather like it so they sign up for DofE.  But ask them again at the point where they finish DofE - at any of the stages where they stop - and they will tell you they aren't ever going to do another expedition again!

"Would you like to do a hill walk as a unit?" I ask
 "NO" they cry.

They tell me tales of being wet, tired, fed up, falling out with their 'teams' that they were forced into because of 'making up numbers', of poor training and last minute route planning.  (I am going to be quite clear that none of the poor preprep, supervision of forced teams tales were part of Girlguiding DofE - they always come from where girls have done it through their schools.)
So by the time these girls have finished DofE the thought of walking out on the Lakes as a fun recreational activity is totally off the cards.  Maybe it takes 20 years to get over it.  When they finally reignite the flame that they had originally that even made them consider DofE  might be a possibility for them.

I'm not sure what the solution is.  I guess watering down the DofE expeditions is never going to be an option but parents should have the ability to check out providers properly.  Something more Ofstedish.  Parents pay a lot of money with some providers to see their kids through the scheme. Yes it looks great on Uni personal statements but it also breaks the desire of a lot of these young adults to follow a pursuit that would give them a healthy outlook their whole lives.

DofE has it's place, it is definitely a good thing as a whole.  It definitely: "enables them to develop their potential."

I just wonder if it's time to stop breaking their backs on expeditions in atrocious weather, carrying massive weights, expecting them to cook up a half decent refuel to allow them to walk a long carrying weight again the next day - maybe splitting some of the requirements into more manageable chunks that doesn't kick the life blood out of them might be the way to go - just maybe.


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