My eldest son embarked on an incredible journey earlier this year and this weekend he completed his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award with a 17-mile, two-day hike and camp. The experience not only marked a significant milestone in his personal development but also gave me an opportunity to reflect on the qualities and skills that such a challenge can instil in our future leaders.

The journey began long before the hike, with meticulous planning and preparation. He demonstrated impressive dedication, spending hours poring over physical maps with his friends (no smartphones were allowed on the hike), organising gear, and coordinating equipment and meals with his team. This phase was crucial, as it laid the foundation for their adventure. It was in these moments that he learned the importance of preparation and planning, skills that are invaluable both in and out of school.

Motivation played a pivotal role in this journey. Despite the inevitable doubts and fears, he remained focused. The achievement he was looking for is not insubstantial and not to be downplayed. The camaraderie he formed with his friends fueled his determination. This motivation was tested throughout the hike, particularly during the gruelling 17 miles – the trial hike they had a month or so back was 24 miles and they learned a valuable lesson about planning an appropriate route and distance! There were moments of physical exhaustion and mental fatigue, yet he pressed on, driven by the goal he had set. Monday morning was difficult for them all; tired and aching, but they still had to be up and out the door for school! Life goes on!

The hike itself was a testament to his resilience. The terrain was challenging, the weather a little unpredictable, and the weight of his pack a constant reminder of the demands of the journey. However, they all demonstrated perseverance, learning to push through discomfort and fatigue. This resilience is a crucial skill, one that will serve him well in the future, whether in his future studies or when he finds himself gainful employment.

This morning, the tiredness from the weekend’s exertions was palpable. Yet, despite the fatigue, my son rose on time, prepared himself, and headed off to school. Yes, he complained about it, but what teenager doesn’t? This simple act of getting up and moving forward, even when tired, highlights a key lesson from this experience: the importance of discipline and the ability to keep going, no matter the circumstances.

Reflecting on this experience, I am struck by the valuable life skills my son has gained. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is more than just a certificate; it is a testament to the qualities of motivation, dedication, and resilience. These are the skills that will serve him well when he continues to university or out into the world of work.

As he approaches his GCSEs, the ability to plan meticulously, stay motivated in the face of challenges, and demonstrate resilience will be essential skills to have learned. These experiences have taught him how to set goals, work towards them methodically, and persist even when the going gets tough. In the competitive and often unpredictable landscape of the workforce, these skills are indispensable.

Moreover, he has learned the value of teamwork and leadership. Coordinating with his friends, sharing responsibilities, and leading by example are all critical components of the Duke of Edinburgh experience. These are qualities that employers look for and value highly.

My son has completed an important stage of his journey of growth, learning, and personal development. The skills he has acquired – planning, motivation, resilience, and teamwork – are not only crucial for his immediate future but will also form the foundation of his professional growth. As he moves forward, I am confident that these experiences will help him navigate the complexities of life and work with confidence and determination.

I’m proud of the man he’s becoming!

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash