The mystery of life and death often causes one to ponder and it is no different with the passing of HRH Prince Philip, founder of the Duke of Edinburgh Program.
The program was first developed in the United Kingdom in 1956 in conjunction with Kurt Hann, German Educationist and founder of Outward Bound and Lord Hunt, leader of the first ascent of Mount Everest. These men wanted to motivate youth to participate in a more balanced program of service, self-development and activity to support their growth into adulthood.
I have been delivering the program at Glenaeon for the past 11 years and have watched participants benefit from his vision and desire to support young people in finding meaning in their lives and purpose in what they do. Bronze participants, usually Year 9 students, begin to learn consciously, what it means to be in service to others, to practise physical activity as a means of betterment of their health and wellbeing and develop or hone a skill to exercise their brain. These activities are undergone alongside their normal school workload and what is commonly expected of our adolescents, and it helps them to find focus and work towards achieving a goal. They elect to participate in the program for various reasons at this stage, but for whatever that is, they benefit in so many ways.
The students that follow on to the Silver and Gold Award have committed to a much extended weekly commitment of service, physical activity and skill to further their development, experience, social interactions and achievements. They are not ‘going with the flow’, being dictated and peer pressured into what is cool or acceptable teenage happenings. These students have already risen above the materialistic level of adolescence and want to gain something beyond what is the typical offerings.
This is no more evident than in the adventure journey that makes up the Award at each level. Twelve Year 10 students and one Year 11 student planned and organised their adventure practice and qualifying journeys, which they undertook towards the end of these holidays. A girls’ group undertook the Six Foot Track walk while the boys conquered a large section of the Great North Walk. Both groups departed at the crack of dawn on Friday, after spending a few hours on Thursday together on final prep and training, equipment checks and packing. The students made all the arrangements: from booking sites, registering with National Parks, enlisting leaders as ‘back-up and safety’ – as required by the Award Office, planning out each day, the distance and kind of terrain, coordinates for designated breaks, navigation, etc. and got on their way. The first day’s walk for the boys was no less than 27kms with a great deal of that uphill! Following are some reflections of the participants on their return.
Prince Philip had the foresight and desire to set up a program where more than four million young people worldwide, since its inception, have participated, achieved and grown. This is a gift. Thank you Prince Philip; your legacy will live on.
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