DofE Frequently Asked Questions

Approved Activity Provider

What is an approved activity provider (AAP)?

Approved Activity Providers (AAPs) are organisations, both commercial and charitable, who can offer opportunities to young people that will count towards achieving a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. An AAP licence is not compulsory for organisations offering opportunities suitable for the Volunteering, Physical, Skill and Residential sections of a DofE programme. However, due to the increased level of responsibility that expedition providers have, an AAP licence is compulsory for all organisations offering opportunities suitable for the Expedition section of a DofE programme.

What is an Expedition AAP?

Expedition Approved Activity Providers (AAPs) are organisations which have been licensed by The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to provide expedition opportunities to participants. An Expedition AAP will have satisfied the DofE that their proposed programme of activities will meet and adhere to the sectional requirements. These AAPs can deliver expedition training, practice and qualifying expeditions, on behalf of a Licensed Organisation, such as a school.

Which Expedition AAP do Saddleworth School use for the DofE Expeditions?

We work with a company called Karos Adventure Ltd, a small, family run business based in Staffordshire, with whom we have built a very good relationship over the last four years.


What kit do I need?

We will cover this during the expedition training, and we will provide you with a copy of a detailed kit list. This can also be downloaded from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award website

What happens if I forget anything?

Unfortunately, we do not have any spare kit to bring to each expedition so your instructor will not be able to help. You will not be able to take part unless you are properly equipped.

Why can’t I wear trainers or approach shoes for the expedition?

To safely take part in an expedition you must have proper walking boots which cover the ankle bone. These must have soles with good grips and heels. If you do not have proper walking boots you will not be able to take part.

Why must my walking boots cover the ankle bone?

You will be carrying a heavy load during the expedition so to prevent injury; your ankles will need extra support from your walking boots. If you do not have proper walking boots you will not be able to take part.

Do I need to bring a spare pair of trainers or flip flops?

This isn’t necessary, however if you don’t mind carrying a little more then you may want to bring a different pair of shoes to wear in camp. You should not walk barefoot around the campsite.

Can I wear shorts?

If it is hot you may wish to wear shorts, however we recommend wearing long trousers when walking as they provide protection from sunburn, from cuts and scratches from long grass and from biting insects such as ticks.

Why can’t I wear cotton?

Cotton absorbs lots of water and dries very slowly so if your cotton t-shirt, hoodie or tracksuit bottoms get wet, you will be cold and uncomfortable. Fleece and quick drying synthetic materials are better. A woolly jumper will also keep you warm while wet.

Why do I need to bring woolly hat and gloves in summer?

Even in the middle of summer it can be very cold on the hill or at night. Therefore, it is essential that you can keep yourself warm.

How many spare clothes do I need?

This will depend on the length of your expedition, but as a minimum, in addition to the clothing you are wearing, you will need a spare warm jumper and a complete change of clothing.

How many pairs of socks do I need?

As a minimum you will need 2 pairs, one to wear and a spare pair. However, some participants prefer to have a fresh pair of socks for each day of their expedition.

Can I bring my mobile phone?

Yes – but it should only be used in case of an emergency. Please ensure that it is fully charged, has plenty of credit and is well protected from the elements in a tough plastic bag – a zip lock bag would be ideal and has the OS Locate App installed. Phones will be collected from participants whilst on the campsite kept in a secure location and returned to participants prior to them setting off in the morning.

Can I bring an MP3 player?

No – we do not want to see or hear participants listening to music during the expedition. It is not in the spirit of the DofE, it is antisocial, and it can even be dangerous to wear headphones whilst walking.

Can I bring a camera or video recorder?

Yes – this is a great idea; you will want to record all those great DofE memories. They can then be uploaded onto your account or used during your presentation (silver only). If you do bring a camera or video camera, please ensure that it is well protected from the elements.

Do I need walking poles?

Some participants find walking poles very useful, when used correctly they take some of the weight off your legs and can help you to balance when walking on rough ground. They are particularly useful for participants who suffer from ankle, knee or hip problems.

Do I need to bring any money?

Yes – It is a good idea to bring some money with you in case of an emergency. But you will be responsible for its safe keeping. Saddleworth School nor Karos Adventure Ltd. will not be liable to replace money lost during an expedition.

What fun item should I bring?

Whatever will boost your morale and keep you entertained during the expedition. Some people bring a ball, a pack of cards, a book, a cuddly toy, a Frisbee. No ipods, ipads or other electrical items please.

I lost or damaged a personal possession during an expedition, am I insured?

Your possessions may be covered on your parent’s house insurance. Your possessions are not insured through the DofE, Saddleworth School or Karos Adventure Ltd

Will you charge me if I damage or lose any kit belonging to Karos Adventure Ltd?

That depends – if the damage or loss was accidental e.g. breaking a tent pole whilst trying to pitch a tent in stormy conditions, then we will not charge you. However, we reserve the right to make a charge if we believe that the damage or loss was caused wilfully or by misuse or negligence.

Food and Water

How much water should I carry?

You should carry 2 litres of water with you when walking. But you will need to drink more than this during the day to stay hydrated, so we recommend drinking water in the morning before you start and more when you arrive at your campsite in the evening.

Will I be able to top up my drinking water each day?

Campsites will have taps with drinking water. In very hot weather we may be able to meet you with a supply of water during the day, but as you need to be self-sufficient you should plan to carry all the water you will need.

Can I use a Camelback, Platypus or other hydration system?

These are good as you don’t need to stop and take you bag off to drink, so they can help you to stay hydrated. The downside is that you also can’t easily see how much you’re drinking, and it is easy to drink a day’s supply of water in a couple of hours. Hydration systems are also prone to leaking so in addition you should bring a 1 litre water bottle with you too.

How will I cook my food?

Your group will be given Trangia stoves – typically 1 for each 3 participants. The stoves are fuelled by gas which is safe and easy to use. Each stove has 2 pans, a lid and a handle, so you will be able to boil or warm food. You will not be able to fry, toast, roast or oven cook food, so you need to choose what to bring carefully.

What food do I need?

We will cover this during the expedition training, the idea is light nutritious food that is easy and quick to cook, in a pan

Should I avoid any foods?

Yes – do not bring any raw meat, poultry or fish. Anything which needs refrigeration should be eaten within 4 hours, so ham sandwiches for lunch on day 1 are probably ok, but after that to avoid food poisoning please eat dried, preserved or long-life foods only. If someone in your group has an allergy you should also avoid bringing food that they are allergic to, to avoid making them ill.

The Campsite

Who can I share a tent with?

You will share a tent with one or two other people from your expedition team. However, male and female participants cannot share a tent under any circumstances. Tent occupancy is strictly either male only or female only.

What sort of tent will I sleep in?

As standard Karos Adventure use Crag 300 tents from Access Expedition. These are lightweight and simple to pitch.

What will the campsite be like?

This will depend on where you are doing your expedition. We use a mis of commercial campsites, Scout and Guide campsites. Most campsites do not have showers, some have hot and cold water and flushing loos, but some are very basic with only cold-water taps.

Will I be able to shower?

No – most of the campsites do not have showers. You will be able to wash, although there may not be hot water. We suggest either bringing a flannel and small bar of soap or using wet wipes.

Will there be a toilet at the campsite?

All the campsites we use have toilets.

Should I bring toilet roll?

Yes – you need to be self-sufficient. Some campsites do not provide toilet rolls, or you may find that other campers have used them before you arrive. Remember to protect your loo roll from the elements – it won’t be any use to you if it is soggy.

Medical and Illness

If I have a medical condition illness or injury, can I still take part?

We will try to accommodate your needs wherever possible; however, expeditions are very strenuous and often take part in remote areas so we need to consider whether it will be safe for you to take part if you are not fully fit. It may be possible to apply for an exemption from the DofE 20 conditions so that we can assist you in some way, or we may recommend that you need to undertake further training or wait until you are fully fit before taking part.

What happens if I am ill or injured during the expedition?

Our instructors will be on hand to give you support and first aid. If necessary, you will be seen by a medical professional. If you are unable to continue with the expedition, then we will contact your parent/guardian to arrange for them to collect you.

What happens if I get bitten by a tick?

Ticks are common in some of the expedition areas. You can prevent tick bites by covering up and using insect repellent. If you get bitten by a tick during your expedition, please let your instructor know. If you find a tick when you get home, then you can find advice on safe removal and information on the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.

Staying in touch

Can I bring my mobile phone?

Yes – but it should only be used in case of an emergency. Please ensure that it is fully charged, has plenty of credit and is well protected from the elements. Phones will be collected from participants whilst on the campsite kept in a secure place.

Will I be able to contact friends or family during the expedition?

Your mobile phone should only be used to contact your instructor during the expedition. You need to save your battery and phone credit. Phone signal may be poor in the expedition area and friends and family may worry if they are expecting you to call them and you cannot.

Will my parents be able to contact me during the expedition?

You should tell friends and family not to call you during the expedition. You need to save your phone battery for emergencies. You may also be in an area with poor phone signal, and they may worry if they cannot get hold of you.

How can I get a message to my son or daughter during an expedition?

If your message is urgent, please contact us and we will contact your son’s or daughter’s instructor.

My son or daughter has called me and is lost or upset, what should I do?

Please reassure them and tell them they need to speak to their instructor who will be able to help. Instructors make regular checks on the groups progress and participants are all given contact numbers for their instructor and a land line. Phone signal may be poor in the expedition areas, so if participants cannot get hold of their instructor, they should leave a clear message and send a text giving their location and information about the problem. If you are concerned, please contact us and we will pass a message to your son’s or daughter’s instructor. Please try not to worry, expeditions are challenging, and participants may want to call parents if they are tired and upset. They often forget to call you back later to tell you that everything is OK.

The expedition programmes

How many people will be in my expedition team?

We operate with expedition teams of seven made up of either 3 girls & 4 boys or 4 girls and 3 boys. It is up to you to form your team along these lines. Occasionally we will allow an all boy or all girl group depending on the make up the cohort.

What is my mode of transport?

You will be undertaking a walking expedition.

How far will I have to walk?

 Number of daysHours per dayDistance per dayTotal Distance
Bronze2613 Km26 Km
Silver3717 Km50 Km

What is the expedition programme?

The Bronze programme is four days, consisting of two days training (including one overnight camp) and a qualifying expedition with an overnight camp. This takes place when participants are in Year 9.

  • Days 1 and 2 – Training Residential. Participants will take part in a weekend camping trip. Each group will have a day walking with an instructor, an overnight camp followed by a day walking under close supervision.
  • Days 3 and 4 – Qualifying Expedition. Two days walking with an overnight camp.

The Silver programme is five days, consisting of one day navigation training, a two-day practice expedition (two nights) and a three-day qualifying expedition (two nights). This takes place when participants are in Year 10.

  • Day 1 – Navigation Training. Participants will spend a day of advanced navigation training.
  • Days 2 and 3 – Practice Expedition. Participants will take part in a weekend camping trip beginning on Friday night. Each group will navigate a pre-planned route under close/remote supervision and camp at two separate campsites.
  • Days 4 to 5 – Qualifying Expedition. Three days walking along a pre-planned route with two overnight camps at different locations.
  • Planning routes for qualifying expedition will take place in school.

What if I miss a training day?

You cannot take part in a Bronze qualifying expedition unless you have completed appropriate expedition training. You cannot take part in a Silver practice expedition unless you have completed appropriate expedition training. If this happens your DofE leader will discuss the options with you.

What if I miss the practice expedition?

You cannot take part in the silver qualifying expedition unless you have successfully completed the practice expedition. If this happens your DofE leader will discuss the options with you.

Can I do my practice expedition when the rest of my group do their qualifying expedition?

No – a lot of training still takes place on the practice expedition, so it would not be appropriate to include a participant who had not completed a practice expedition in a group who are undertaking an unaccompanied qualifying expedition.

If I drop out of the programme, will I get a refund?

If you are dropping out for a medical reason you will be entitled to a partial refund, the level of which will depend on where in the programme you drop out. There are no refunds available if you drop out for any other reason.

What happens if I drop out of a practice expedition before the end?

If you do not complete the practice expedition (Silver Award Only) then we cannot sign you off to go forward to the qualifying expedition. On very rare occasions someone may become ill or injured on the final day of a practice expedition. If they have already demonstrated that they have acquired all the necessary skills and are competent we may be able to sign them off.

What happens if I drop out of a qualifying expedition before the end?

You will not complete the expedition section of the award. You can make your own arrangements to complete your expedition at another time. You will have until your 25th Birthday to make other arrangements to complete this section and your award.

Can I fail a practice expedition?

You cannot fail a DofE practice Expedition. However, at the end of a practice expedition we occasionally must recommend that some groups undertake further in-school training to ensure that they are fully prepared to safely undertake an unaccompanied qualifying expedition. This isn’t failing, some groups just take longer to pick up the necessary skills.

Can I fail a qualifying expedition? Yes – Not all the participants who start a qualifying expedition will complete it successfully. If they have not taken care of themselves, they may drop out before the end. Participants can be deferred if they have not conducted themselves in the manner expected by the school (please refer to the code of conduct). Karos Adventure also reserve the right to ask a participant to leave an expedition if they believe that they pose a danger to themselves or other members of their group. If you do not complete your qualifying expedition first time, then you can try again later (just not with Saddleworth School). You have until your 25th Birthday.


How will I get to the expedition start point?

It is up to you and your parents/guardians to make your own travel arrangements to and from the expedition start and finish points.

Will the school minibus be taken on expeditions?

The school minibus will be taken on all expedition weekends for emergency purposes e.g. taking injured participants to hospital, collecting ill participants from their route, distributing water on hot days etc.

Will there be transport arranged to the expedition areas?

There will be no arranged transport to and from the expedition areas, as the cost of doing this is prohibitive. We also start and finish groups at different locations which also makes it logistically difficult to hire coach transportation.

Will drop-off and pick-up be at the same place?

Participants usually navigate a linear route, starting in one place and finishing at another. So, drop-off and pick-up are usually from different places. These are detailed in the joining instructions emailed out two weeks prior to the expedition.

Contact Us

Who do I contact about DofE at Saddleworth School?

Dr D Rowan, Assistant Curriculum Leader Science, DofE Manager.

Mrs A Reece, Personal Assistant to Headteacher, DofE Administrator.