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Dukes Gold participants ready for Adventurous Journey despite Covid-19

Covid-19 has sent the world into lockdown, but this has not stopped award participants responding to the challenge and completing their gold awards.

Apart from many of the participants undertaking their activities under more restricted conditions a small group continued preparing for their Adventurous Journey (AJ) using online means for the planning.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, whilst conscious of the need to ensure the safety of young people, is keen to ensure that they are #WORLDREADY and now, more than ever, that they are “Ready for Change, Ready for a New ‘Normal’, and Ready for our New World”.

In the words of The Earl of Wessex: “Young people can and do rise to a challenge. If given the opportunity they will discover that there is more in them that they think.”

As a result of this, a group of young people from the Open Award Centre and Prior Park School, subject to Covid-19 related conditions remaining favourable, leave on August 17 to travel to the French hills to complete their qualifying Gold AJ.

They can do this because of travel restrictions being eased and the fact that they had managed to complete the physical practice journeys just before lockdown in March.

During their travels, the group will adhere to the current guidance and requirements in relation to Covid-19

The 26 participants, whose ages range from 17 to 18 years, will be based in the Mont Lozère area, which encompasses the Parc National de Cevénnes, and are set to there until the August 24 to complete the AJ, which for most participants is the most arduous part of the award programme.

The AJ entails travelling by foot over four days with three nights spent under canvas undertaking purposeful effort during the best part of the four days.

The participants will probably cover over 80 kilometres and will carry all their food, tents, stoves, fuel, and other equipment in their rucksacks for these four days as they are expected to be self-sufficient during the venture.

As if that is not enough, they are expected to do this in unfamiliar wild country and do so by navigating their way along a pre-planned route, hopefully without deviating too much and definitely without getting lost.

But that is not all, the Award requires that participants undertake "a journey with a purpose" and to this end they will need to produce a written report of the venture. The topic is of their choosing and needs to be relevant to the area they are visiting.

At Base Camp, the participants will spend the first two days route planning, sorting out all their food and equipment and also brushing up on their map reading skills.
They will also need to become familiar with the local conditions regarding hiking in the region as well as improving on their French, just in case they need to ask for assistance.

Following the initial familiarisation period, the participants will then start the adventurous journey proper.

During this period they will be monitored by independent assessors, Alison and Brian Evans, who will determine if the participants are observing the correct Country Code procedures, correctly navigating across the various parts of the country and, meeting the award’s requirements for a qualifying venture.

Over the last twelve months, the local participants have been busy carrying out practice camps in the south of Spain, fund raising and completing their various examinations.

The cost of the trip, in the region of £12,000, is being met from a variety of sources which include, monies raised by the participants through personal and parental contributions, the Government’s youth grant, and the award itself.

The award and participants would like to thank the Bland Group and the Government of Gibraltar Youth Grants for their financial and in-kind support.

The participants are accompanied by adult leaders, Jenny Sciacaluga, Jenaika Ferrary and Paul Lyon who are acting as supervisors and, as such, will be responsible for the general safety and wellbeing of the participants whilst away from the Rock.

The Award and the participants wish to thank them for all the time they have spent over the year in getting the participants ready for the qualifying adventurous journey and for accompanying them on this venture.

For more information about the venture please contact Chairman of the Open Award Centre, on 54027052.

To learn more about the award as a whole or, if you would like to get involved, please contact the National Director, Michael Pizzarello, on 20051971 or email mjpizza@gibtelecom.net or visit their website at www.thedukes.gi

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