Benefits of an Open DofE Expedition
Completing an Open Expedition can be more rewarding then just meeting the requirements of DofE Award expedition section. One of our participants, Laura McLachlan, tells you more about her experiences on her Open Gold practice expedition along with the extra benefits that she gained...
"Everyone I’ve spoken to about doing an open expedition has gone “Ah I couldn’t do that, I’d be too scared and wouldn’t know anyone.” And I’m not going to lie to you, it can be nerve-wracking walking into a room full of strangers, but it can also be one of the best things you do.
It was that room full of strangers that made my expedition as brilliant as it was. It was the fact we didn’t know each other that kept us interested, there would always be something to talk about as you were constantly getting to know each other. It was the fact that we had come from all over the country and our differences that kept us amused for the entire expedition. And by the end of the first day you wouldn’t have even been able to tell that we’d only just met! They were a great bunch of people who were so supportive and so not only did I complete my expedition, but I came away with 6 new, good friends too.
And we had all signed up to do this. Therefore you were with a group of motivated, like minded people. We all wanted to achieve the same goal and therefore we all got on and worked together extremely well. No-one was left to do most the work like I’ve experienced when doing previous expeditions with friends at my award group! We had only just met, yet we made a cracking team.
Another bonus of an open expedition is you can’t help but gain confidence from putting yourself in the situation where you don’t know anyone. Taking the plunge and overcoming the barrier of “Ah I couldn’t do that, I’d be too scared and wouldn’t know anyone” has been one of the best things I’ve done, and could be one of the best things you do too. I have so much more confidence now and it has opened so many more opportunities. I’ve done so many more things that I know I wouldn’t have done if it weren’t for the confidence gained from that first walking into a room with people I don’t know, so it’s been well worth it.
For me, one of the major appeals of an open expedition was the flexibility. I could sign up to an expedition wherever I wanted to go to, whichever place interested me – there were so many locations available to choose from. Therefore I was able to explore places I’ve never been before and was not limited by the places and expeditions available locally. I could choose the dates that suited me and I wasn’t reliant on the dates friends could do and the dates offered locally. Therefore I could fit my expeditions around my other hobbies and other things going on in my life; just do them when it suited me best. And all this is on top of the usual great memories of any DofE expedition – seeing the sunrise, the laughter, the gorgeous views and the getting lost!
So doing an open DofE expedition is about more than just walking the miles and getting to the end. I found it so much more rewarding than an expedition with people you know. It’s about gaining confidence, getting to know new people from all walks of life, working together, becoming a team with people you've just met and becoming good friends as a result. It’s about doing an expedition in an area that suits and interests you, on dates that are good for you, rather that just relying on what is available locally. You can explore places you’ve never been in your country, or even go and explore places abroad. It’s flexible and allows you to get out of an expedition what you want; there is really something for everyone out there.
All you have to do is take the leap of faith. And believe me, it’s worth it - now I honestly can’t wait to do it all over again for my open Gold qualifying expedition!"
Laura McLachan, Open Gold Practice Expedition, 30th May - 4th June 2011 in the Peak District