A new Open Awards Centre scheme has been launched by the Wiltshire Outdoor Learning Team (WOLT) to give home educated children aged 13-19 a package of expedition experiences that are similar in format to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

“As you will be aware, many schools in our area run the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme (DofE) for their pupils,” explained Louise Fisher from WOLT. “Open Award Centres (OACs) are an alternative way of accessing the DofE and are particularly important for young people who are home educated, have left school or do not want to engage with their school DofE group due to anxiety or disengagement.

“However, in recent years most of the region’s OACs have closed due to council cuts and other reasons. This has left the home-educated sector in particular with no access to the DofE and the experiences it offers.

“The Expedition section of the DofE was a fantastic learning experience and much enjoyed, and the Wiltshire Outdoor Learning Team would like to offer this experience as a stand-alone activity in order to fill the gap. Whilst we are hoping to attract home-educated young people, the activity is open to anyone aged 13-19 and will include all the training and preparation required to complete an expedition independently. This will allow young people to gain confidence, learn to work as a team and problem solve for themselves. Experienced, friendly expedition leaders will deliver all the training required and will be on hand at all times throughout the process.”

The Expedition Experience is made up of a Training Weekend on 11-12 May at Brokerswood near Westbury, then a Practice Expedition in the Mendips area which runs from 25-26 May for the Bronze Package and 25-27 May for the Silver Package. There is then a Planning Day on 7 July before the Final Challenge Expedition in the Quantocks from 20-21 July for the Bronze Package and 19-21 July for the Silver Package.

The Bronze Package costs £195 and the Silver Package £235

“This expedition package is designed to deliver a small group, tailored experience full of fun and gentle encouragement, which is ideal for those with little experience or who may be a little anxious about outdoor activities, added Louise. “Our expedition leaders are passionate about giving the young people high quality training so that they feel confident on their adventure.”

“Expeditions are fantastic tools for teaching young people about working together, solving problems, and developing resilience and self confidence in a completely non-academic way. Young people frequently discover strengths and skills that they didn’t know they had whilst in the outdoor environment, which is why we love to do these activities”

“The expeditions will fit all the criteria for the DofE, so young people enrolled to the scheme can come along if they don’t want to do expeditions with their own group and it will count towards their DofE Award.”

For more information, contact Louise on 07981 934377 email hidden; JavaScript is required