While on Christmas break, area youth finished the adventurous journey section of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
Since 1963, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program has been active in Nova Scotia. The program is designed to encourage all young Canadians between the ages of 14 and 24 to set their own goals and challenges, work towards achieving them, and be recognized for their achievement. There is no competition between the participants, and the only people they compete with are themselves. Self-motivation is fundamental to the framework. The criteria for gaining an Award are based on each participant’s improvement and potential at the starting point of the Award. To achieve an Award, participants must set goals in multiple program areas: service, skills, physical recreation, adventurous journey, and an additional project.
For a couple of months, the group struggled to organize the trip due to Covid-19 restrictions, limiting their ability to meet and delaying the adventure. What seemed like the only window of opportunity before they had to go back to school or covid-19 restrictions changed. The youth left French Village on the Rails to Trails to walk to the old Bowater lands to camp on the top edge of Sandy Lake. The youth had to be self-sufficient and carry all they would need for an overnight hike into the wilderness.
The walking into the woods, for the most part, was unremarkable; it was the walkout that genuinely challenged the youth. Overnight the temperature had dropped, the lake froze over, and the ground was covered snow. As dawn broke, the youth were present with the challenge of cooking breakfast and breaking camp covered in snow. The walkout seemed further for many youth as they had to navigate the snow-covered trails. Once they reached their starting point, you could see in their eyes the sense of accomplishment and pride in completing this aspect of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
Over the coming months, the group will finish the other aspects of the program and submit their logbooks for eligibility to receive the bronze level of the program.
Originally published in the January 2022 edition of The Masthead Newspaper: https://themastheadnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/January_2022_Masthead_News_Revised.pdf