Bagging the Welsh dragon in the Black Mountains
Crossing the Black Mountains, starting at Pandy and moving on to Hay-on-Wye, the route has incredible views and a line of trig points ending in one decorated with a Welsh dragon.
Scouting groups and Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes are great ways to get young people outdoors, but why join? 15 year old Drew shares his story.
by Drew Hickman
Life is an avenue of opportunities; you choose which doors to open and which to close. Every opportunity affects your life in a different way, some for better and some for the worse. For me, Scouting has been nothing but a positive influence on my life and I would strongly recommend that everyone who possibly could get involved in what is a fantastic opportunity and, inevitably, series of life skills.
One of the things I’ve been fortunate enough to get involved with through Scouting is the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, DofE for short. For those of you who don’t know, DofE is an award of the highest calibre, split into three sections: bronze is for people aged 14+, silver 15+ and gold 16-25, the cut off for completing as many of the awards as you want, each getting progressively more difficult.
Within each award you have to fulfil criteria in four sections: Volunteering, Skill, Physical and then the Expedition. The Bronze expedition is two days walking, with one night camping; silver three days and two nights and gold four days and three nights in a challenging area like the Brecon Beacons. However, those who manage to complete the gold award are presented with their awards at Windsor Castle by the Duke of Edinburgh himself. For the other three sections, you have to do a minimum of three months for each, with one being undertaken for six months and with the ability to backdate one as well. It doesn’t matter which; it’s completely your choice what you do for each and how you have them assessed, with the lists of possibilities available of the DofE website.
Some of you may have read that and thought better of getting involved having seen the challenge of walking for two days, carrying all your equipment, tents and all. No outside help is allowed; you are totally on your own. Nevertheless, DofE is a wonderful opportunity to participate in, alongside joining the Scouting movement. Yes, it’s a challenge. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, you will probably want to give in at some point along the way. But don’t; get involved and finish it because the satisfaction of completing DofE and being presented with the badge is a wonderful feeling.
Alongside this, it’s an amazing addition to your CV when looking for a job. Employers love reading things that say “completed DofE to Bronze level.” It’s also a great way to get outside and get active, learning valuable life skills which will hold you in good stead forever more. Teamwork, perseverance, leadership and map reading, these are all developed through the DofE scheme and are all incredibly important qualities to have if you want to stand out in the world of work.
I have never regretted joining Scouts or doing DofE; I’ve made some great friends with people I otherwise would never have known and learnt to do things I never thought I could. DofE is just one thing Scouting offers; it also caters for other outdoor activities. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to throw a tomahawk, shoot a rifle or go canoeing in fantastic locations such as the Wye Valley in Monmouthshire? I’ve experienced all these in safe, fun environments with great people, sharing great times, just from joining Scouting.
Scout units are everywhere and are always looking for new members. If you’re interested in getting involved either as a participant or a leader, head online and visit the Scouting website on how to get involved and find the nearest unit to you.
I cannot stress how much good Scouting has done for me and what a positive impact it’s had on my life, and I hope it can have the same sort of effect on others. It’s shaped the person I’ve become and helped me discover things about me I doubtless would have realised otherwise.
I’ve joined the adventure, will you?