​News from the Duke of Edinburgh Award

As the school year is about to end, this year’s DofE activities are culminating, too. The nice spring weather is a signal for holding all the preparatory and qualification expeditions that are an essential (and the most popular) part of the programme. With regard to the record involvement of our students (44 have participated this year), there will be no weekend without an expedition taking place. Let’s have a look at the levels step by step. 

The bronze ones are now going through an intense training for their expeditions. They learned to work with both a map and a compass and are gradually planning their preparatory expedition which will be carried out the last weekend of May near Babice. Before that, they will learn the foundations of the first aid, how to move in nature and, of course, even the basic camping skills. All the bronze participants will set out to the qualification expedition at the very end of the school year (22 – 24 June) – in the beautiful scenery of Czech Canada. The guarantor of the Bronze level is Lubica Knížková. 

The participants of the Silver level have been planning their expeditions in expedition teams since the start of January; in spring, four preparatory and four qualification expeditions will be carried out on different weekends. Their content is miscellaneous this year. The first group stayed with the traditional walking. This expedition will take place with the assistance of Jan Udatný near the Upper Palatine Forest at the turn of May and June; the students set the learning of the churches as the expedition’s goal. The second group is, under the leadership of our yachting expert David Nitsche, expecting a yachting expedition. The third group decided for water tourism, so at the end of June, they, with Peter Sommers, will be canoeing at the river Sázava. The last group will wait for its qualification expedition until the beginning of September. It will be a biking expedition and the supervisor Luděk Michalík will be present. 

It has become a rule already that some of the students of OPEN GATE are participating even at the highest – Golden – level of the programme. This year, two golden expeditions will take place for the first time: the first one in Romanian Banat in the half of June, the second one at the very end of the school year (from Friday, 28th June, to Tuesday, 1st July) in the area of Slovak Ore Mountains. Of course, both expeditions are preceded with a thorough preparation including the weekend practice expeditions. They will go off in May, one in Bohemian-​Moravian Highlands (see the photogallery here), the second one in Jizera Mountains. The students will naturally participate in the medical course of the Red Cross, learn basics of the language of the country and attend a number of preparatory meetings. 

Apart from these present activities, at the beginning of June we are expecting two ceremonial events in the form of handing certificates to the successful absolvents of the programme for the last school year. On Tuesday, 3rd July, certificates for the successful fulfilment of the Golden level will be handed to five students of Oktava in the British Embassy. These certificates will become entrance tickets to the Alumni club that has been created last year by the Czech national office of DofE. Exactly one week later (10th June), even all the successful bronze and silver absolvents will be awarded with the certificates. They are all invited to the Prague Congress Centre where the ceremony will take place, with the presence of the partners of the programme – including the traveller Dan Přibáň, who made “Trabants” famous all around the world, or the fishing adventurer Jakub Vágner. 

Luděk Michalik, Sára Poštulková