What is the Duke of Edinburgh International Award?

What’s the Award all about? And what are the opportunities for Adventurous Journeys and Residential Projects in China?

The Duke of Edinburgh International Award is a youth self-development program designed to cultivate the spirit of challenge and personal achievement. At its core, the Award is about self-motivation and discipline. Students set their own goals and strive to achieve them, relying on their individual effort and drive for self-improvement. There are three levels – Bronze, Silver, and Gold (open from ages 14, 15, and 16, respectively) – and upon completion of each level, participants receive the Award as a testament to the strength of their character. Originating in England in 1956, the Award is now popular throughout the UK and in international schools worldwide.

Hiking expeditions as central component of the International duke of edinburgh award
Hiking expeditions – a central component of the International award

During the Award, participants set and complete goals in four areas, each of which develops valuable and transferable life skills. Three of these areas are related to the cultivation of the following:

Service: Developing a sense of responsibility to the local community.

Skills: Driving the development of personal interests and social or practical skills.

Physical Recreation: Encouraging a sense of achievement and good health through regular physical activities.

Over the period of the course, all participants partake in activities that meet each of the three objectives. For example, the Service goal could mean coaching local children in a sport, the Skills goal might involve participants taking up a new sport themselves, and the Physical Recreation goal could be attained by increasing the number of weekly exercise sessions that the participant does each week. Bronze and Silver participants must persist in these activities for 26 weeks, whereas 52 weeks is required for Gold.

Setting up camp one

Setting up camp after a long day of hiking

The fourth of these goals is the one we find the most exciting – Adventurous Journeys. This section encourages a sense of discovery and adventure through the undertaking of an expedition or a team journey. Each level involves a different difficulty level.

Different International Award Award levels, and their respective journey durations and hiking distances

Practice Journey Duration Qualifying Journey Duration Hiking distance (KM)
Bronze 1 full day out 2 days, 1 night 20
Silver 2 days, 1 night 3 days, 2 nights 40
Gold 2 days, 1 night 4 days, 3 nights 60

What are some examples of Adventurous Journeys? They can include completing a demanding journey by foot, bicycle, canoe or kayak, and also through exploring the natural world.

Kyrgyz local dwelling in the Pamir Mountains

Kyrgyz local dwelling in the Pamir Mountains

In a country with the size and diversity of China, there are countless options for Adventurous Journeys. For the Bronze award, a two-day hike amongst the rugged terrain and remote villages in the wild areas of the Great Wall is highly recommended. For Silver, a three-day hike through the lush flora and fauna of the biodiverse Yunnan province, passing through Tibetan herder camps and sleeping next to sacred lakes, is a great choice. And for Gold, taking the rare opportunity to trek the high-altitude desert terrain of the Central Asian-esque Uighur homeland of Xinjiang is something not to be missed.

Abujee Sacred lake

Tsonak sacred lake in Abujee

Additionally, the Gold Award involves a fifth section – the ‘Residential Project’ – where participants broaden their horizons, experiences, and outlooks by living with those who are not their usual companions. The participants work with communities, in an unfamiliar environment, for a minimum of five days and four nights to complete a common goal. One potential for a Residential Project could be to say with China’s Zhuang minority group in Guangxi province. Again, the sheer scale and variety of China’s vast landscape opens up endless possibilities for the Residential Project.

Service photo 1 (1)

Assisting locals in the Gold Award Residential Project component

As the focus of the International Award is on self-improvement, and all the goals are set according to the capabilities of the young person involved, the only barrier to entry is self-motivation. At WildChina, we have a team of staff accredited to support students in successfully completing their Adventurous Journey section of the International Award, and have a range of different options available for both the Adventurous Journey and Residential Project. To learn more about any of WildChina’s Duke of Edinburgh Award offerings, or for any other bespoke student-led trips, don’t hesitate to get in contact with WildChina today.
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