DofE Expedition & Residential Requirements

Read more about the different requirements of expeditions and residentials below.

  • Your expedition team

    You will need to form a team of 4 – 7 people (8 if you are doing your expedition in a tandem bike or canoe). With your team you will decide on an aim for your expedition. The key is to pick something that interests you all. Open expeditions are great if you would like to form an expedition team with other like-minded individuals.

  • Expedition locations

    You will need to choose an expedition location that is appropriate for your level of award and suits your expedition aim and needs.  Some groups do not want to travel too far from home, others want to make their expedition a ‘once in a life time’ journey. Our expedition location pages have some ideas to inspire you.

    The recommended environments for expeditions are stipulated by the DofE as follows:



  • Expedition training

    Once you have a team to complete your expedition with and have thought about where you would like to complete your expeditions and how (mode of travel, open expedition or group expedition), you will need to take the first steps in your expedition journey: pre-expedition training. You will need to complete pre-expedition training at each level of award, even if you have previously completed an award. Pre-expedition training is designed to meet the different needs and terrain of each level of award and so is compulsory at each level e.g. if you have completed a Bronze expedition previously, you will still need to complete pre-expedition for Silver and if you wish to complete expeditions at these levels of awards.

    Pre-expedition training aims to ensure that you are fully prepared and can be self sufficient on your journey – being self-sufficient on your qualifying expedition is one of the 20 Conditions for Expeditions as set by the DofE (read more on these below).

    Your training needs to involve navigation, camp craft, kit selection, emergency procedures and first aid among other items – each level of award has a training framework that your pre-expedition training should cover. Your instructor will ensure that all training requirements are met.

    You will only be allowed to proceed to complete a practice expedition once all pre-expedition training has been covered. This is because during the practice expedition you will spend time operating on your own as a team, without direct supervision from you instructor and you must have had all aspects of pre-expedition training signed off before your instructor can proceed to remotely supervise you. This forms an integral part of both AE and the DofE safety system on expedition.

  • Practice and qualifying expeditions

    Your group will need to complete a practice expedition to see if the training you have undertaken is sufficient to enable you to proceed to a qualifying expedition safely.

    After you have finished your practice expedition, if your expedition Supervisor is happy, they will provide you with a report stating that you are ready to do your qualifying expedition. If they feel that there are areas that you and your team need to work on before undertaking a qualifying expedition, they will detail this in a report and ask you to come back to undertake another practice expedition so that you can have more input to help you feel happy and confident in approaching the qualifying expedition. Every participant and every team has their own path to reaching a qualifying expedition which may involve one or more practice expeditions – if you approach your pre-expedition training and practice expedition with enthusiasm and get involved in all aspects, it is unlikely that you would need to complete more than one practice expedition unless you are really struggling with a particular area of the syllabus. Our instructors give you all the support and input that you would like.

    Then comes your qualifying expedition.  You head off with your group on a self-sufficient journey which you route plan yourselves (with the guidance of our instructors and the benefit of their expedition knowledge if you have questions) and an expedition aim that you’ve chosen – this helps to give you the sense of independence and adventure that DofE is all about.

    Your qualifying expedition will need to meet the ’20 Conditions’ for expeditions set down by the Duke of Edinburgh Award. We work with you to help ensure you meet these and don’t waste your time and effort – read more about the 20 Conditions below.

  • DofE 20 Conditions for Expeditions

    The ’20 Conditions for Expeditions’ are criteria set by the DofE that every expedition team must meet in order for their expedition to be valid:

    1: Your expedition must be by your own physical effort, without any motorised or outside assistance;

    2: Your expedition must be unaccompanied and self-sufficient;

    3: Your expeditions must be supervised by an adult who is able to accept responsibility for the safety of you and your team;

    4: Your expedition must have an aim;

    5: You must be properly equipped for your expedition.

    6: You must have completed the required training and practice expeditions;

    7: At least one practice expedition must be undertaken at each level of the programme, in the same mode of travel in a similar environment to the qualifying expedition;

    8: You and your team must plan and organise your expedition;

    9: You must be assessed by an approved accredited Assessor to the DofE;

    10: There must be between four and seven people in your team (eight people may be in a team for modes of travel which are tandem);

    11: You must be within the qualifying age of the DofE programme level;

    12: Participants must be at the same level of assessment;

    13: Your team must not include anyone who has completed the same or higher level DofE expedition;

    14: Your overnight accommodation should be camping;

    15: Your expedition must be the minimum number of days required for your DofE level;

    16: Your expedition should normally take place between the end of March and the end of October;

    17: Your expedition should be in the recommended environment for your DofE level;

    18: You must do the minimum hours of planned daily activity for your DofE level;

    19: You should cook and eat a substantial meal each day;

    20: You must create and deliver a presentation after your expedition to complete the section.

    When completing your expedition with AE, we help to ensure that you and your team meet these conditions.

  • Expedition report / presentation

    Once you have completed your qualifying expedition, you need to give a report or presentation about your experiences and achievements to your Supervisor, Assessor or DofE Leader. If joining AE for an expedition, we ask that you and your team present your report or presentation at the end of your expedition so that everything is completed before you and your team mates leave and travel back to where you all live – this helps to ensure that everything is signed off and you don’t have to worry about anything after you leave with your report in hand.

  • How long does my expedition need to be?

    Expeditions are defined by hours of planned activity per day rather than distances on the ground.

    Bronze expeditions: 2 days with 1 night camping. Each day needs to have 6 hours of planned activity (at least 3 hours spent journeying);

    Silver expeditions: 3 days with 2 nights camping. Each day needs to have 7 hours of planned activity (at least 3.5 hours spent journeying);

    Gold expeditions: 4 days with 3 nights camping on either campsites or wild camping. Each day needs to have 8 hours of planned activity (at least 4 hours spent journeying).

  • Equality, diversity and inclusion

    Adventure Expeditions aims to include participants on courses and expeditions wherever possible and welcomes all participants. We have experience of making arrangements and adaptations to programmes to accommodate participants with individual requirements, a wide range of medical conditions and additional needs. However, it must be appreciated that this may not always be possible given the safety and/or assessment requirements of the various schemes and qualifications that we run. We have many years experience of working with individuals to make our programmes as inclusive as possible so please do contact us if you would like to talk through your concerns and how we can help you achieve your aims.

    In practice, we have been able to include participants in the vast majority of cases – we just need prior information to make the necessary adjustments for you and look forward to making your expedition happen.

  • What is a Gold DofE residential?

    At Gold level, in order to achieve your award you need to complete an extra section – a residential.

    A ‘residential’ for Gold DofE means a programme that spends 5 days and 4 nights away from home on a shared activity with people that you have never met before.

    Your residential can have any focus or include any activities that you wish, as long as it meets the above criteria. It’s therefore a great way to spend time doing something that you’re interested in and meet like-minded people. We find that there is always a great atmosphere on the residentials that we run and individuals go away with friendships that last – we always love hearing about teams that meet up again after their residentials.

    Take a look at the full list of residentials that we offer under the DofE, Individuals and then Gold Residentials heading.

Need more information?

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