Summer of adventure awaits for students

Traci Burgess

“Keep calm and hike on” is a recurring theme throughout the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award programme, especially here in Bermuda. Perseverance is one key to success and there are times when participants in the Award may feel like giving up, but in those times they are encouraged to dig deep within themselves and push through to overcome their challenges, whether they be physical, mental or otherwise.

It helps when young people are surrounded by a group of peers who may be struggling with similar difficulties and who can relate. Young “Dukers” often encourage and support each other through the course of the entire programme, whether it is related to completion of the adventurous journey or if there are challenges contained within other aspects of meeting the Award’s overall requirements.

At present, there are nearly 600 young Bermudians who are active in the Award. Seventeen of these young men and women are completing their Silver and Gold-qualifying journeys off island this summer, starting with an amazing group of S2 students from CedarBridge Academy, who are in Barbados this week hiking and studying the differences in architecture, history and religions compared with Bermuda. These participants have experienced some of the West Indian culture and partnered with other Duke of Edinburgh Award groups to carry out a three-day trek that covered 50 kilometres of unfamiliar terrain.

Another group of eight participants from the Berkeley Institute and Warwick Academy will be setting sail on July 10 on board the Spirit of Bermuda for a one-week skiller voyage in which they will circumnavigate the main island of Bermuda. Some of these participants have been involved with the Award for several years, having completed both levels of the exclusive Bermuda Bridge Award during their time at Whitney Institute Middle School from 2013 to 2015. This group’s purpose is marine exploration and conservation, part of which will be monitoring boat traffic and its effect on marine life. The group has a basic knowledge of marine navigation and will be learning more involved stewardship skills during their voyage. They will be manning all aspects of the ship under close supervision and instruction from Spirit’s full-time crew, ultimately allowing the group to operate in a reliable, self-sufficient manner.

There is a “Fantastic Four” all-female Gold Award group heading to Zambia in southern Africa in mid-July for a three-week adventure that will have them hiking across plateaus and plains, and sleeping under the stars surrounded by the beauty of an African nature reserve. The National Award Office in Bermuda has partnered with the Zambian National Award Office and the Ndubaluba Outdoor Centre to develop this extraordinary opportunity in celebration of the Award’s 50th anniversary in Bermuda this year.

The girls are very much looking forward to being immersed in Zambian culture and, during the residential service project that is required to achieve the Gold Award, our Bermudian participants will be volunteering in small villages and serving the native tribes. They will also be carrying out service projects at an orphanage and working at a school for disabled children. Having completed all of their Duke of Edinburgh Gold experiences, the group will enjoy a five-day safari in the wild bush that will take them through Victoria Falls and into Zimbabwe and Botswana.

One local Gold participant who is unable to join the other four girls in Africa will be travelling to the Lake District in Wales and completing a 19-day extreme adventurers’ course with Outward Bound to qualify for her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

This is the first time in more than six years that the Bermuda Award and Outward Bound Bermuda have been able to collaborate and offer joint programme benefits to individual participants wanting to complete both programmes simultaneously.

This re-emerging partnership between our two like-minded youth development organisations is in trial mode this summer. Once the details are more solidified and logistics are sorted, it is our intent to promote the dual programmes together for the greater benefit of Bermuda’s youth.

The tremendous exposure to various cultures and ways of life outside Bermuda has proven to provide phenomenal opportunities for growth to Duke of Edinburgh participants over the past five decades. The personal development we see in our young people every day is abundant and always fulfilling.

The Bermuda Award is fortunate to have strong relationships with a broad network of outstanding youth-serving organisations in Bermuda and around the world. Our collaborative efforts not only improve the quality of life for Bermuda’s young people and youth around the world, but they help to cultivate future leaders, and ultimately lead to positive changes in society through the development of well-rounded global citizens who take pride in themselves and in their communities.

Get involved with the Award and make a difference in the lives of Bermuda’s youth, especially this year as we celebrate 50 years of service across the island.

• Traci Burgess is the National Director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Bermuda. For additional details on programmes, she can be contacted at 537-4868 or