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Crazy or Ambitious?

Good day to you all!

I've had an idea, one that I think may be a bit ambitious, but I like to challenge myself...I want to do my Duke of Edinburgh award. Given my age, I would have to go straight for the gold award. The only part that is really worrying me, naturally, is the expedition: 8 hours ""planned activity"" a day for 4 consecutive days, camping out inbetween...

Now, a friend of mine has spoken to some award leader types who say that there is no reason why I cannot do it as a brittle asthmatic - afterall, people do this in wheelchairs and with other various disabilities, and it is the award ethos of including everyone and tailoring their award to them. Though I've yet to speak to the award leaders myself I have been told that if I have to walk slowly for 10 minutes and then rest for 5, that is fine.

So, my question to you - am I mad, or should I go for it? Do any of you have experience of D of E (or expedition experience generally) with having asthma? Whilst my asthma isn't always exercise-induced (on a good day I can walk miles) sometimes I struggle to walk at all, and the cold air, pollen etc are all potential triggers. BUT, I want to prove to myself that I can do this and that my asthma won't get in the way...

Any thoughts, feelings, or experiences welcome :)

Emz x

9 Replies

Go for it!! there has been a discussion on this before so if you search hopefully you can find it.

There are various ways things can be changed adapted to suit everyone - who would u do it through?

I did do mine so feel free to pm me 9mind u it was 17 yrs ago!!!!


D of E expedition vs exploration.

Hi crazybaby,

I started my D of E awards when i was 13 and a half (the minimum age to start them) i completed all three. I did expeditions for all 3 instead of the exploration. The exploration is much less physically demanding than expeditions. Explorations however are very mentally challenging requiring less walking but far far more paperwork and projects etc when you get back. My desision to do the expedition rather than exploration was due to the sheer amount of college work i had on at the time and the thought of doing another project aswell as my subjects coursework made me decide on the expedition. There are benefiits and drawbacks to both but do PM me if you want to discuss these differences and i will be happy to help. My asthma was classed as severe and unpredictable at 13 and graadually got more and more severe till i was told it was brittle at the age of 15-16yrs old.

It is a great award to have on job application forms and demonstrates that you can work well in a team and on your own initiative and has an added benefit of increasing your fitness levels.

As the award is split into sections which is also great for future job applications/uni personal statements etc etc. The award itself can set you up with some great life-skills which are very helpful in your future career and life in general. I would recommend everyone to do this award if they can as it really is a great award to have.

The skill area demonstrates that you can work towards a specific goal and achive it (showing your determination to suceed etc) if you are taking driving lessons you can use driving as your skill subject - when you pass all you do then is get your instructer to sign your log book etc (each exam should be signed for ie - hazard perception, theory and practcal tests - being able to drive is a great life skill.

The physical recreation subject is something fitness - wise that could include aiming to do a canooing award (i did one and two star for my bronze and gold) it could also be working towards completing a fun run or walk - depending on your overall health and fitness (i think you can also use things like dancing but the log book has various things you can use for this section and how many hours you have to spend on it before you can get your book signed,)

Residential project is a chance for you to do some project over a number of days yhings like building a rock pathway at a scout camp (my brother did this) or doing charity work in Romania this is what i did working in different orphanages and old peoples homes in romania at the same time as refurnishing the camp school where the children in the orphanages were able to go in order to get a break from everyday routines of their orphanages. There are a variety of voluntary projects that can fulfill the criteria of this section some more physically demanding than others but it is still possible to do it,

community service things can include things like volunteering at thelocal school at break times or helping at the local playschool etc.

As i said i completed all 3 awards with severe asthma and even though my asthma was brittle by my Gold expedition, i still completed it. There were several emergency measures we gad in place.

1. we were closely monitored by the group leaders (most groups only had 1 checkpoint the whole day we had a checkpoint every hour to check i was coping ok).

2. I was allowed to carry a mobile (this is usually against the rules of expeditions and explorations) it was kept in a plastic tub and parcel taped shut so that the instructers would see if it had been tampered with. The contact numbers for the leaders were programmed into it,

3. We were allowed to overrun our time targets. All groups are expected to reach certain checkpoints at certain times - if not they can be penalised - our group wasnt.

4. our route was allowed to be close to roads generally in case i required a nebuliser as my neb ran of the mains electric or car battery. If i was struggling and we were not near a road then we had permission to stop at the nearest road and the instructers would meet us etc

My expeditions were mostly uneventful on my terms. We did have a rather eventful third day and night on our gold award as i was really rather poorly, i managed to get through this attack by using a few nebuliser doses of ventolin through a spacer. I didnt get much sleep but the instructers came and stayed with us till i was ok one of the instructers was a doctor so he checked me over and our group did continue the last day albeit very very slowly. We had planned to have a 2hour walk to the finish on the forth day - however as i still wasnt great we took out time and completed it after 9hours.

If i had the chance again i would do it all over again. It is a great place to meet people and also helps you get fitter. Its not a crazy thing to do at all and has so many points which look great to any future prospectuve employers, shows you have stamina, determination, ambition and skill and also demonstrates good qualities in regards to team work-which is a quality most employers like to see. (as a side-line it also teaches you to read maps and point referenceswhich is a great life skill if your not blessed with ownership of a sat-nav - lol!!!) Go for it but do talk through your ill health with your expeditions instructors and if your still worried about it discuss it with your GP. Ask for certain things to be put in place. You are in a slightly better position than i was in as if your on nebs regularly then you can carry an omron microair or similar device - the ones i had years ago were all very very heavy and didnt run off batteries etc.

Good luck amd do keep us all posted on how you are getting on with it. The D of E can at times be very challenging both physically and mentally BUT the rewards you get far far out way that as its a great confidence builder too. The friends you meet during the D of E also tend to be the best friends you have as you get older - possibly because you went through the award together and shared a unique at times difficult experience with one another.

Sorry for the very long post - i hope your still reading at this point lol!!! thought it may help to hear from a person who has tried to never let asthma get in the way of my goals. You can do it!!!!!

Feel free to PM me if you need any more info or want to discuss any stratagies you think need to be in place etc.

Keep us posted and good luck

lotsa lv KitKat



Thanks guys for your positive replies - and kitkat, you are inspirational! I was having doubts that it would be possible but with all they ways in which they helped you look wonderful, more than I expected.

I'll keep you updated!!

Emz x


Hi Crazybaby,

Go for it! Kit Kat has given some brilliant advice, and lots of good ideas.

I did D of E when I was younger, and my asthma was much milder than it is now. However, I struggled more with sport when I was younger, and struggled quite a lot doing bronze (where I stopped). Now I'm older, despite having worse asthma control, I seem to have managed to work out how to exercise with it, particularly carrying heavy packs around mountains. Other forms of exercise, like running, I'm totally rubbish at, but I seem to be OK at keeping going for a long time at a steady pace walking with 20Kgs on my back. I'm sure this is because I've got much better at dealing with asthma, rather than it's got less triggered by exertion. I am probably fitter now though, I guess.

Kit Kat has given you great practical advice, and I want to tell you that I reckon if you work out what your pace is, how much weight you aim to carry (if any - adding weight is the hardest thing, I think, and my bag was taken off me when I did D of E), and you put good safety precautions in place, and a good understanding team, you should definitely give it a go! I personally never ever try to walk to time - I can keep going for days at my own pace, but I think it would all go wrong if I tried aiming for times (I keep declining offers to do the 3 Peak Challenge in 24hrs - surely asking for trouble.) Obviously I have 'targets' - i.e. where to sleep that night, but I always keep my plans flexible, and often change them if I feel like stopping for the day. Make sure you don't feel pressured by anyone in your team. I give myself a very strict set of rules, involving things like prednisolone use - e.g. I can only use pred to get myself out of a situation, but never to continue etc (this is an example only - that is less relevant to an organised trek in the UK).

And I think you're crazy and ambitious. And that's great, the only thing you need to avoid is being foolish. And I expect there are enough possible safety precautions that can get put in to stop it being foolish. I guess the biggest thing to remain safe would be you have to be honest with how you're feeling, and be honest to the group, and know what the plan is if you feel worse than expected.

I'm sure I could tell you a lot more about how I learnt to trek carrying weight, so if you want any more advice, PM me.

Good luck, let us know how you get on.



hi Crazybaby,

Im sure there must be a way for you to do it

your not mad and nice to have a goal to achieve.

Good luck and Go for it xxxxxxxxx

love Glynis xxxx


Hi crazybaby

i forgot to mention that another adaption they did for me was that we always walked at my pace (the slowest persons pace) throughout the entire expedition and any stops were decided by me whenever i needed a rest (it was always slowest persons pace and rest stops decided by that person - just happened to be me each time lol)!!

I also had the privilage of being able to share out the contents of my rucksac (30L sac) with the others in my team when i felt more breathless than normal. This came in useful when i was very breathless on the 4th day of the gold expedition we walked very very slowly and did take our time but the rest of my team also took anything of any weight out of my rucksac so that i was only carrying a very light pack.

I would do it all again if i was given the oportunity so go for it!!!

do keep us posted on how you get on. Lotsa lv KitKat Xxx


Thanks guys, I feel really encouraged and inspired.

Going home in just under 2 weeks so will talk to some leaders/assessors when I'm home - see what they say!!

Thanks again :) xx


good luck!

hi crazybaby

Good luck with all the discussions with the leaders and supervisors of d of e in your area. Do keep us posted on how you get on. Lotsa lv kitkat Xx


Just Go for it!



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