“Some of the young people found the expedition physically tough and had to dig deep into their reserves to complete the task, but in the process, they learned many positive things about themselves and that they can do anything they put their minds to!”
~Ed Thompson, Blue Sky’s Duke of Edinburgh Programme Manager~
For us all, moving out of our comfort zone can be slightly daunting, but for children whose lives have been disrupted and disjointed, it can be far more troubling. Thankfully, during their recent expedition to the New Forest, our foster children had a distinct advantage; they had Ed, together our lovely friend, Ted who undertook the assessment of the expedition and a team of Blue Sky staff as helpers, one of whom was about to get married and move house and all whom gave their own time, freely.
Ed explains “The DofE Award programme has three progressive levels and when completed, these lead to the three awards; ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’. During the summer holidays, nine of our foster children and young people and one birth child took part in the expedition as part of their ‘bronze’ award and we are so proud of the way they handled the whole experience; they were awesome!”
The team of four boys and six girls undertook a three day practice expedition to learn navigation skills, how to put up their tents, get used to carrying a heavy rucksack and to work as part of a team, before undertaking the two day expedition the following week, upon which they were assessed. “Nerves played a big part in the beginning and there were one or two complaints. To be fair it was really hot weather, we walked for miles and miles and there were blistered feet, so it was perfectly understandable. Once they got used to each other and relaxed, they were more confident. Their different characters shone through, from the shy to the confident, from the practical to the unsure and bit by bit, they worked together to support each other, keep the camp tidy and pitch in with the washing up. I was so proud of them.”
Ted was equally impressed: “Despite them finding the experience of sleeping outdoors alien, they overcame the challenges and went on to complete an excellent assessment. They demonstrated their capabilities as a team and they've learned a lot; from navigation, to camp skills to motivating each other, but most of all they’ve discovered tolerance, friendship and trust. Well done for an excellent expedition!”.
Did you know?......
Blue Sky Fostering was the first independent fostering agency to achieve the license to provide the Duke of Edinburgh award for our foster and birth children and young people?