Start your DofE

MOG is always happy to take on new participants, either keen to get started on Gold DofE, or who’ve already started and need a group to help them finish. This is what we’re here for, and new members are always welcome!

All our members are working on their Gold DofE, but there are two slightly different sub-groups, depending on what you are currently working on;

  1. Our ‘non-expedition’ participants are working on one or more of their physical, skill, volunteering, or residential sections, but not currently their expedition section. They have either already done their expedition section (with us or someone else), or plan to do so in the future. We are here to support these participants, but we only see them at optional drop-in mentoring meetings once or twice a term.  You can join this group at any point in the year.
  2. Our expedition programme participants are working on their expedition section with us within a defined programme (in addition to any of their other sections). During their expedition programme we see them more regularly for expedition training and expeditions. We usually run an expedition programme once a year, with a deadline for joining this.

If we are recruiting for an expedition programme the details will be on our website. If we are not currently recruiting for an expedition programme you are welcome to apply to join the group and get started on your gold alongside our other our non-expedition participants – we will let you know next time we are recruiting for an expedition programme.

The following FAQs are about generally doing your Gold DofE with MOG – specific details of our expedition programmes will be in posts devoted to that. Click the question and the answer will expand:

What is Meadows Open Gold DofE?

Meadows Open Gold DofE is a volunteer run group, open to all young people aged 16-23 who wish to achieve their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. As part of this we aim to deliver an annual expedition programme which provides all training and expeditions required to complete the Gold DofE Expedition section within an academic year, and that also helps engender a love of the outdoors and give participants sufficient skills and knowledge to undertake independent expeditions with their peers in the future.

The group operates under the DofE licence of the City of Edinburgh Council.

What is the DofE?

The DofE is A UK-wide award programme for young people, achieved by completing a personal programme of activities in five sections. The timescales required for each section of a Gold award are:

Volunteering Physical Skills Expedition Residential
12 months One section for 12 months and the other section for 6 months Plan, train for and undertake a 4 day, 3 night expedition. Undertake a shared activity in a residential setting away from home for 5 days and 4 nights.
Direct entrants must undertake a further 6 months in either the Volunteering or the longer of the Physical or Skills sections.

More information and suggestions for activities.

Why do your DofE?

How much time will I need to spend on my Gold DofE?

The minimum length of time to do the whole award is 12 months, 18 months if you are a direct entrant (participants who have not done their Silver DofE are known as ‘direct entrants’).

The physical, skill, and volunteering sections require a commitment of an average of 1 hour per week each. Unless you are 23 (see “I am 22 or 23, am I too old to start Gold DofE?”) you don’t have to do all the sections at once, so you can spread this time commitment out – you have until you are 25 to complete the award.

Each of our expedition programmes has its own time commitment and schedule of dates, which will be outlined in the details of the programme.

Who is eligible to join MOG?

You must be aged 16-23. You must not have completed Gold DofE before, but you can have started Gold with another group and want/need to transfer.

See the questions below for specific situations to do with your age or previous experience.

I have not done any Dofe before, can I do Gold DofE?

Yes, Meadows Open Gold is set up to cater for direct entrants to Gold level (participants who have not done their Silver DofE are known as ‘direct entrants’). Our expedition training programmes are designed so that whether you start from scratch or not, you get to a level where you can complete a challenging Gold qualifying expedition within a year.

In terms of your other sections (Physical, skill, and volunteering) you will be required to do an extra six months in one of them, you can find information about this on the DofE website.

I have done Bronze DofE, can I jump straight to Gold?

Yes, you will be classed as a direct entrant (participants who have not done their Silver DofE are known as ‘direct entrants’). If you are still working on Bronze, you need to complete or abandon this before you enrol with us. Our expedition training programme is designed so that whether you start from scratch or not, you get to a level where you can complete a challenging Gold qualifying expedition within a year.

In terms of your other sections (Physical, skill, and volunteering) you will be required to do an extra six months in one of them, you can find information about this on the DofE website.

I have not yet finished my Silver award, can I start Gold?

Yes, but you must have completed at least one of your silver sections on eDofE (otherwise you cannot be enrolled on Gold level), and you must have done your silver expedition, as we do not run silver expeditions. If you join Meadows Open Gold  before you finish your silver we will become your DofE group and your Silver sections and award will be submitted to us for approval through eDofE.

I am not yet 16, can I join the group?

Sorry, not yet. The minimum age for starting Gold DofE is 16, and we will be delighted to get you started then. You must be 16 before you can join the group, or our expedition training programme. If you turn 16 after the start of an expedition programme you could join the group to start your other sections when you are 16; please see “I don’t want to do my expeditions this year”.

I have left school, can I still start my Gold DofE?

Yes, as long as you are still 23 or under. You have to finish all of your sections and submit your whole award before your 25th birthday.

I am 22 or 23, am I too old to start Gold DofE?

You have to finish all of your sections and submit your whole award before your 25th birthday. If you have finished Silver, you have to commit to two of your sectional activities for at least 12 months, so you must start both of these before your 24th birthday. If you have not finished Silver, you are a “Direct” entrant and you have to do one activity for 18 months, so you need to start that section before age 23½. Bear in mind that you will probably need to do several of your sections at the same time, and join our next expedition programme, so you will be busy!

I don’t want to do my expeditions this year, can I still apply to start Gold DofE with MOG?

Yes. We are happy to take on participants who want to start their other sections (physical, skill, volunteering and residential) and who hope to complete the expeditions in future. You would join our non-expedition group, and be invited to optional drop-in meetings once or twice a term. These meetings are a combination of mentoring where the Leaders will help you pick sectional activities, check your progress and help you get them signed off, and also focused workshops on particular aspects of DofE. You will also be welcome to contact the leaders for advice at any time.

You should be aware that the group is run by volunteers, and therefore we cannot unconditionally promise to offer expedition programmes in future years. Even if you are already in the group you will still have to let us know you want to join the expedition programme when you want to do it.

Can I do a canoeing/cycling/horseriding/sailing/kayaking/rowing/ski-touring/skateboarding expedition?

Yes! We will do our best to facilitate this. If this is something you are interested in, let us know and we will discuss it with you.

Our MOG expedition programme is usually for a walking expedition, unless otherwise advertised. There are two possible routes to do an expedition by another mode of travel;

  1. If we can find a like-minded group of participants within MOG we will support you as a group to organise the expeditions by your chosen mode of transport. Our current leaders only have leadership qualifications for walking, so we would probably have to bring in additional instructors for some of the training and the expeditions.
  2. You can look for a place on an open expedition through a DofE Approved Activity Provider (AAP). These are advertised on the DofE opportunity finder.

You should expect an expedition by any other mode of travel to cost more because of the costs of equipment hire and qualified instructors.

Can I do some of the expeditions and training this year, and some the next?

No, unless there is an exceptional reason, which you should contact the MOG leaders to discuss. We design our expedition programmes as a package, usually to be delivered within one academic year. During the programme, as well as acquiring the relevant knowledge and fulfilling the requirements of DofE, you are building expedition fitness and developing relationships with the participants who will be part of your team. This social interaction is vital as the Expedition section can only be completed as a team.

I have done all the training and/or practice expeditions required for my Gold expedition section, can I just go on your qualifying expedition?

No, sorry. Our expedition programme is designed as a package so you complete your training and practice expedition with the teammates you undertake the qualifying expedition with. You would be welcome to join our expedition training programme if you commit to the regular meetings and expeditions. If you did your expedition training/expeditions a while ago this might be a good thing to refresh your knowledge and build your expedition fitness up again.

We don’t organise Open Expeditions (where participants from different Award centres form a group for a single expedition), but Friends of the Award do, or you can find more on the the DofE opportunity finder.

I have caring responsibilities/a disability/faith or cultural needs/health issues, can I still do my Gold DofE?

Yes! A central principle of the DofE is that it is “accessible to all”. We will do everything in our power to help you do your Gold DofE – expeditions and other sections can be adapted so they are a suitable challenge for everyone, whatever your needs. If you have concerns about the expedition or training sessions you need to talk to us in advance – we are volunteers so we need notice to make appropriate adjustments. If you want to talk to us with the support of a parent, guardian, carer or other support worker we are happy to arrange to do so.

What will joining MOG cost?

There is a one-off £29 fee for signing up for your Gold DofE and a £10 subscription fee for MOG to cover the group’s running costs – all members pay this annual subscription fee even if you have already started Gold with another group. We will provide details of how you can pay after you apply – we can accept cash, cheques, or bank transfers.

I am concerned about the cost of doing my Gold DofE, is there anything I can do about this?

Please speak to the leaders as soon as possible. Money should never be a barrier to doing your DofE and we will do our best to help find funding to support those who otherwise couldn’t afford to participate.

For our expedition programmes there is no need to spend lots of money on equipment to take part. We have access to very low cost expedition equipment hired from Friends of the Award, and the costs of this are built into in the price of expeditions. If you do want to spend money on any equipment the leaders are available to advise you to ensure you will get the most appropriate kit. DofE participants and parents get good discounts at a range of outdoor shops.

For the other sections there are lots of ways you can do low cost activities – if this is a concern discuss it with the leader when planning your sections.

Are there still spaces available in the group?

We have no limit to the number of participants we can accept into the group. There are limits on numbers for our expedition programmes, but this has not been an issue during our first four years of our expedition programmes.

I have more questions, who should I contact?

Please use our contact form. Please remember: we are volunteers, so it may take us around a week to respond.