How do I get started?

First stop is to find your nearest DofE centre. It may be in your school, college, youth group or company. In this case it’s Gillingham Open Award Centre which is wholly run and supported by volunteer leaders and committee.

What’s it all about?

You design your own programme and do an activity for each section for an average of an hour a week, outside of curriculum time. You have until your 25th birthday to complete activities for a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award.

How old do I need to be and what are the timescales?

DofE timescales at a glance

Bronze Awards can now be started in Yr9 and Silver in Yr10, so long as the young person is (respectively) 14 or 15 by the end of the August of that academic year. No Gold activity can start before the 16th Birthday.

Why should I do DofE?

The United Learning Trust showed that UK employers valued the DofE the most after national qualifications – even more than work experience. It’s also a great way to boost your confidence, learn leadership skills and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.

The Sections you will need to do

Download a handy list of programme ideas for all sections for loads to think about:-

  • Volunteering: A chance to help your community, from coaching or teaching, to fundraising for a charity – you can make a difference to a needy individual or “not for profit” group/organisation. We have put together a huge list of volunteering ideas, with links, on this website which is added to whenever we have time to continue the search.
  • Physical: Sport, dance, martial arts, the gym, even walking regularly – anything that will get you active and improve your fitness. Moving around in a game or learning/practising a sport skill? Its a DofE Physical!
  • Skills: Learn a new skill (not in sport mind, unless its officiating or leadership or an appreciation!) or develop existing talents. Try, motor sport, cooking, being a Committee Member or make some music- from arts to life skills to sports leadership to playing chess – so many…
  • Expedition: Plan, train for and complete an adventurous journey with other participants in a team.
    • Cost – we charge per off site event to cover all running costs of the Award Centre. This includes insurance, room hire, leader training, admin, transport inc team support, campsites, equipment repair and replacement, consumables and assessment. All leaders are volunteers. We still have to apply to grant makers to make ends meet.
    • Plus, all new enrolments undergo a 6hr nationally accredited First Aid course @ £33. Average costs with Gill OAC = Local day hikes £5; local Bronze weekends £20; Bronze weekends needing buses for transporting whole teams £35; 3 day Silver Expeds and 4/5 day Gold Expeds are proportionately more as they are out of County and there’s more campsites!
    • Parents are asked to help transport Participants to local (within 25 miles) start/finish points in order to keep costs of hiring buses to the minimum of emergency and leader vehicles. Please try and find someone to share transport with. If all else fails, speak to a Leader and ask for help.
    • Always consider the purchase of well fitting boots a must, but rucksacks and good waterproofs we can lend.

You can download a guide to D of E Gourmet Meal Suggestions and the  Kit List 2018

  • Residential (Gold only): Take part in a shared activity away from home with people you don’t know in a shared residence. It could be a conservation project, a language course or helping at a kids activity camp; there are opportunities for all pockets and interests. Often, volunteering to help a charity costs nothing or just asks for something towards living costs.There are many opportunities to be found on the Residential Page of The Award site which is updated frequently – searches can be filtered according to your delight! The guide to choosing a DofE Residential is essential reading because a mistake can be costly. Always confirm with the County Manager at dofe@dorsetcc.gov.uk before booking anything!


Once you’ve made up your mind that you want to do an Award you’ll need to complete a 2018-19 Gill enrolment form as well as a Parental Consent GillOAC 2018 and to pay a DofE participation fee plus an extra charge for admin and support, added by DCC. The full Welcome Pack cost is detailed on the enrolment form,  Make sure the email address given is clear and one that is checked at least once a week!

With GillOAC, the initial Pack/Enrolment costs from April 1st 2018 will be: Bronze/Silver £35; Gold £45 for the duration of the level you do. (It is your place and can be transferred to another DofE Unit if you move, or you can remain e – attached!)

If there are any challenges over the cost of things please speak to a Leader in confidence. We have access to a small bursary fund and will do our best to help.

What happens next?

You will be emailed your eDofE account details and can open that immediately. Start planning your programme with a potential assessor using the Planning Sheet. Submit plans to your eDofE Leader on eDofE for their approval. Don’t start any section without that approval.

You will receive a Welcome Pack with lots of helpful info and your DofE Reward Card. You don’t have to wait for this before you start.

eDofE is where you log your progress through your DofE programme, and is what your Leader checks and approves when you’ve completed your activity in each section.

The eDofE account email address for the Participant must be monitored, to receive updates and Activity details

At Bronze, with GillOAC we expect 2 sections finished on eDofE (the 2 x 3 month sections you’ve chosen to do should be easy to complete) before being considered for an Exped team. This is to ensure you are really serious before more money is spent!

At Silver, we expect the 3 month section to be finished before undertaking an Expedition. Unless a Direct entrant (not having done Bronze) the following paragraph also applies.

Although it is possible to work on 2 Award levels at once, at GillOAC the level below must usually be finished before enrolling. This is to go some way towards encouraging commitment to completion of a whole Award Level.

To take part in offsite activities with GillOAC you will need a parent/guardian to fill in a Parental Consent GillOAC 2018

Our meetings are term time Tuesdays. Detailed programmes for each Level will be published on this website – see the menu. Whilst doors will be “open” from 4pm, Expedition training sessions will normally start at 5.15 for 5.30pm and go on until 7pm when more volunteer leaders will be available to instruct after their own work day.

When you achieve your Award you’ll receive a badge and certificate. Gold Certificates are awarded at St James Palace by HRH Prince Phillip or Prince Edward.