SEEE was set up to meet the challenge of offering expeditions under Covid restrictions. Since Oct 2020, we have run 24 Expeditions for over 250 young people. As a result, there were many Explorers who completed, not just their first expedition at Bronze, but also Silver and Gold – in some cases in the same year, using the DofE ‘Covid flexibilities’. Between walking and paddling, an amazing 51 candidates completed Gold Qualifying expeditions – and Gold requires four days and three nights in wild country! Pentland District also ran DofE expeditions, so the total numbers completed in the Region are actually higher.
As well as the normal process of running expeditions, we had two major challenges:
- Covid regulations and the constantly changing rules affecting the expeditions;
- Preparing and communicating while face-to-face meetings were not possible.
The key to overcoming them lay in cooperation between adults from across the Region. More than 70 adults helped directly, covering training, administration, quartermastering, supervision and assessment, with many more supporting in the background, not least the Commissioners who had to ensure that each expedition complied with whatever rules currently applied.
Key positives have been:
- The addition of paddling and biking options for expeditions;
- More Activity and Camping Permits, and DofE Assessors;
- A lot of First Aid training, including 2-day certificates for Gold candidates who could potentially assist with delivering future training;
- Improved communications, using e-mail, eDofE and, above all, OSM;
- The hugely gratifying response to our call for adult volunteers.
However, the really outstanding benefit has been that 250 Explorers and Network members have been able to complete DofE expeditions, learning valuable skills and growing hugely in the process. Here are some of their comments and reflections:
- Lots of fun. A nice challenge – not brutal!
- We were really good at looking out for each other.
- Brilliant! Great! Phenomenal!
- Great to look back and see what you have accomplished.
- Seeing new things; growing physically and mentally; persevering.
- Best bit was Day 2 when we went through the whole plot of Kung Fu Panda.
- Some rocky bits, but we were getting better all the time.
- Buzzards, eagle, frogs, a giant dragonfly, spider with spiderlings on back, mushrooms, lily pads…
- Great having a mission, so stopping to examine insects etc.
- Enjoyed meeting new people, particularly at this time (Covid).
- Chatting to everyone. A break from life. A break from phones.
- The company was great.
Congratulations to the candidates, and many thanks to all the volunteers. Special thanks are due to Simon Cocker, who has now stepped down from his role as Deputy Regional Commissioner. As well as being a key member of the organising team of SEEE, he took part in 14 expeditions, and his wife Diane did 13 – a huge commitment of time and talent, demonstrating real dedication.
We are planning to build on this success by coordinating across the Districts, encouraging those with the capacity to run their own expeditions to do so, particularly Bronze, and organising shared expeditions where required. We hope to retain those who volunteered this year, and to add to the team, so if you think you could help, you will be very welcome. Additional volunteers for biking and paddling would be particularly useful. If you would like to discuss this, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
John Buchanan, for the SEEE team
THOSE WHO HELPED
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