The Duke of Edinburgh's Award

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Experiences that last a lifetime.

St Catherine's School is an experienced operator of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. This exciting program encourages students to challenge themselves in the following sections - Skill, Volunteering, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey. Gold Award participants also undertake a Residential Project..

Students choose and undertake an activity that fits in with the purpose of each section for at least the minimum amount of time specified for their chosen level: Bronze, Silver or Gold.

The purpose of the Award is to give young people of all abilities the opportunity to volunteer in their communities, develop their skills, join a physical activity and embark on adventurous journeys. Students in Years 9,10, 11 and 12 can complete their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award at St Catherine's School.

The adventurous journey component of the Award can be fulfilled through participation in the Outdoor Education Program Beyond Boundaries. In Years 11 and 12, students design, plan and organise their own extended expedition.

Student perspectives:
Completing the Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award

Throughout 2013, a number of girls in Year 12 worked hard towards attaining their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The Award requires participants to undertake five separate components:

Residential Project – a shared purposeful activity away from home, in the company of others who are not their usual companions, for a period no less than five days and four nights

Adventurous Journey – an expedition or exploration in a challenging environment, over four days and three nights

Physical Recreation – a physical activity undertaken regularly across a 12-month period, where participants work up a sweat and show regular commitment, progress and improvement.

Volunteering – a donation of time and activity to a genuine cause, for at least one hour per week for 12 months

Skill – an activity which develops or improves on a desired skill, undertaken for at least one hour per week for 12 months

We asked each of our 2013 Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participants to share their experience of one of the required components.

Residential Project
Caroline Hamer, Duke of Edinburgh Captain 2013
The residential project component of the Gold Award seeks not only to challenge participants, but also to broaden their outlook towards the world. Due to the large array of activities that can be completed under the encompassing title of a ‘residential project’ – ranging from construction projects to youth parliaments – many participants find it to be a challenging component of the award.

For my own residential project I took part in a language exchange over the 2012-13 Christmas Holidays. Along with a few other Australian girls from schools around Melbourne, I spent three weeks at the high school Jean XXIII, followed by two weeks on holidays with my exchange family. During these five weeks I sought not only to improve my French and explore the French culture, but also to make new social connections in France.

While I did often find it extremely challenging speaking French all throughout the long school days (which often started at 7.30am and went as long as 6.00pm) as well as being away from my family over Christmas, it was nevertheless an incredible experience, and one that I will never forget.

Adventurous Journey
Militza Banach-Wightman, Year 12
The Beyond Boundaries programs at St Catherine’s certainly prepare you for the Adventurous Journey Component of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, almost to the extent that typical challenges dissipate. I suppose then that the purpose of an Adventurous Journey component, for students who have experienced the typical challenges which accompany camping, is to expand one’s knowledge in the outdoors, and in turn combat the more individual ordeals.

During the mid-year school holidays, I travelled to the Northern Territory with five other girls. Three of us were completing our Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and our challenge was to complete the 66km Jatbula Trail. Why this trail? Perhaps some of us were motivated at least partially by the warmth and its marketing as a ‘journey between waterholes’. However, it was the incredibly different and diverse landscape that most inspired us to choose this trail. 

A typical day involved walking between five and sixteen kilometres through sand, streams and rivers, shrubs, mud, swamp, and up rocks or on flat terrain. The afternoon was then free for personal exploration at the most spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes, as well as relaxing and learning in a new environment (it truly changed each day). On one occasion, our guide abruptly dived into the water during dinner and caught us a turtle and then explained that there would be no crocodiles or any larger animals at this site because we were on the escarpment. Despite the various challenges, the trip was absolutely amazing and taught us a great deal about ourselves.

Physical Recreation
Caroline Kudelka, Year 12
As a part of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, I chose to play tennis. I love tennis, which is why it was my selected sport for the award. You can play tennis in any weather, and it does not take a lot of equipment; just a racquet and a ball. The only challenge is finding a partner and/or opponent and a court to play on.

When playing singles, tennis has challenged me, as I only have myself to rely on for shot selection and delivery. Playing doubles is mentally challenging when it comes to being dependent on your partner, sharing both the tennis ball and half of one side of the court, as well as testing your patience when it comes to long rallies, without having the opportunity to hit the ball.

Having tennis as my physical activity for the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has helped me discover my favourite sport, and I have also established lifelong friends. Tennis has opened up a range of endless opportunities for me in the future, such as travelling for tournaments and having the possibility to build a career within the tennis industry in the future. Tennis is a sport that is very social, and keeps individuals healthy and agile; especially when it comes to old age, as tennis is something you can play forever.

Volunteering
Sarah Ann Lee, Year 12
I think that the volunteering component is one of the most important parts of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, as it helps participants connect with and give back to their community.

The volunteering component for the Gold Award requires a one-year commitment. I volunteered at my family church in Blackburn, where I was in charge of the Sunday school for babies aged 0 – 5 years each week. This was a great experience for me, as I was given the responsibility of looking after 10 very young children with very short attention spans. I had to keep the children engaged in activities such as singing, dancing and storytelling, so that their parents could attend the church service.

By looking after these children, I have learnt a lot about myself – some of my strengths and some of my weaknesses – and it has encouraged me to mature within a short timeframe.

Skill
Alexandra Hays, Year 12
As part of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, I have been required to complete a skill component for a period of 12 months. My chosen skill was singing in the Viva Voci and Cantanti Belli choirs, which are two St Catherine’s School choirs. We have rehearsals at lunchtime on Wednesdays and after school on Thursdays.

I have found this to be an extremely rewarding part of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh. I have expanded my knowledge on a wide range of singing genres, from classical to jazz and contemporary, and have made new friends.