10 ideas for your Gold DofE residential

by May 13, 2022 | First published in 2019Advice

Gold DofE residential is something you’ll need to do if you want to complete the highest level on the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Your residential will need to be completed alongside volunteering, skills and, of course, your Gold DofE expedition.

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Before we start….

If you are new to this blog, I’m Bex Band – a full-time UK adventurer and founder of the women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. I’m on a mission to make getting outdoors and going on adventures as easy as possible. You can read more about me here.

If you have any questions, please do use the comments box below.

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What counts as a residential?

Before committing to your Gold DofE residential, make sure you are familiar with the criteria. It must be:

  • 5 days and 4 nights away from home
  • with people you have never met before
  • working together on a shared activity

Your residential can be any activity or focus that you like….as long as it meets the above!

Gold DofE Residential ideas

Gold DofE residential ideas

The criteria for your Gold DofE residential is pretty broad, which can make it hard to decide what to do. But you should look at this as one of the most exciting aspects of the award!

You’ll get to spend some time either carrying out valuable work or doing something you’re interested in. And no doubt you’ll make some new friends in the process.

To get you started, here are some ideas that were shared by previous candidates and assessors! Whatever you decide to do, make sure you clear it with your DofE leader first.

#1 Join an official DofE Gold residential

Each year the Duke of Edinburgh Award organises residentials that candidates can sign up to join. You must be aged 16-25 and while these events will meet the criteria of your residential, completing DofE isn’t a requirement for joining.

Activities are varied and include conservation work or learning useful outdoor skills like scrambling or first aid.

There are a number of dates and locations throughout the year, with prices starting from £335. Check the website here for more details!

#2 Take part in a National Citizens Service placement

If you are aged 16 or 17 you could join a National Citizens Service placement. These are government-run residential courses run over the summer holidays. Their focus is on meeting new people and trying new things.

Because these camps are government-funded you’ll only need to contribute £50 to join making it a very affordable option! Find out more on their website here.

#3 Do a multi-day adventure

There are lots of multi-day adventures you can join in the UK and overseas. For example:

  • Doing a big summit like Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc or Stok Kangri
  • Long-distance kayaking or canoe expedition
  • Cycle touring across different countries

For it to meet the criteria of being in a team with people you don’t know you’ll need to arrange this through an adventure tour operator (like 360 Expeditions or Love Her Wild). It’s worth noting that the cost of this sort of activity would be higher than the other options on this list.

Also remember that, even though you might be under expedition conditions, the same days cannot also be used for the Expedition section of your award.

Gold DofE resedential kilimanjaro

#4 Volunteer on a conservation project

How about volunteering your time to help on a conservation project? This could include educating members of the public, helping to restore footpaths or planting trees.

There are a number of UK-based conservation charities that ask for volunteers. Take a look at RSPB and The National Trust who both offer multi-day volunteering opportunities. This article also lists some exciting opportunities from beach cleans to dolphin watching.

WWOF is also a great resource worth checking out. There are many placements where you sign up to help on a project, farm or in an organisation in exchange for food and board. Just make sure it’s a group project so it meets the Gold DofE residential criteria.

#5 Participate in a university tasker week

Lots of universities across the UK offer a ‘taster week’. During this week you’ll stay at the university and participate in activities and lectures. The idea is it gives you a taster of what uni life is like – so a great opportunity if you are thinking of going.

Not all universities offer this so take a look at the websites of places you are interested in. To give you a start check out – University of Glasgow taster week, University of Essex taster week and University of London taster courses.

Note that freshers week doesn’t count towards your DofE Gold residential….just in case you were wondering!

#6 Volunteer at a summer camp

There are lots of summer camps that take place each year to support young people. Some also have a special focus on helping those who are disabled or disadvantaged. I used to volunteer at summer camps and loved it….not only are they rewarding but they are also a lot of fun.

Here are some charities and organisations that look for summer camp leaders:

#7 Improve your skills in a sport or the outdoors

There are lots of courses available where you can learn a new sport – like kayaking or rock climbing – or improve skills in outdoor activities – like navigation or winter skills.

This will can also help you improve skills that will be useful on your expedition. While also helping you to keep fit.

Plas Y Brenin is one of the many outdoor centres that offer such courses.

#8 Learn something new

There are loads of residential courses available where you can learn a new activity or build on the knowledge you already have.

Here are just a few examples:

#9 Volunteer overseas

Volunteering overseas is a great way to see some of the worlds while also giving back to those less fortunate. Many of these placements will require you to give some form of a donation to contribute to the project you’ll be working on. You can usually fundraise for this if it’s for a good cause.

Finding a small charity and contacting them directly can often be the best way to arrange to volunteer abroad. This usually works out cheaper as well as you can cut out any middle man costs.

There are lots of different projects you could volunteer on including assisting at animal shelters, teaching English in schools or helping with building projects. Make sure that the volunteering role you go for is genuinely beneficial to the community and that you aren’t working on something that isn’t sustainable or is taking jobs away from local people.

Generally when it comes to volunteering, the longer you can give, the more useful you will be to those you are trying to help. That’s why projects like Raleigh International or ICS are worth checking out.

#10 Sign up for a sustainability, conservation or geography field course

The Field Studies Council have an incredible range of residential courses for young people – perfect for your Gold DofE residential! You could go on a Geology Camp, try your hand at being a Marine Biologist, become an expert at Sustainability and Climate Change or Brush up your skills in First Aid and Adventure.

Prices are very reasonable starting at £336.

Feeling inspired for your Gold DofE residential?

Hopefully, this blog has given you some ideas of what you might like to do for your residential phase for Duke of Edinburgh Gold. Have you got any questions or other ideas you’d like to share? Then use the comment box below.

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*Any women reading this?* I founded a women’s adventure community called Love Her Wild. Check out our private Facebook page and see what adventures we have coming up.