Our Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential Week returns...

Our Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential Week returns...

This rewarding 5 day 4 night experience runs for three more weeks this year, and it's as impactful as ever...

Check out what our Deputy Centre Manager, Tom Humphreys, has to say about the exciting return of our multi-activity residential week:

In Summer ’23 we welcomed a cohort of adventurers to Skern Lodge to successfully complete their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential, and I am pleased to share that we are running it again for THREE MORE WEEKS this year!

Since last year, we have also been busy working closely with DofE and I am chuffed to share the news that we have achieved Approved Activity Provider (AAP) status! If you’re 16-17 years old, looking to spend a week in North Devon for your Gold DofE res, and want to book yourself in, scroll to the bottom!

If you still need some convincing, read on…

In my earlier blog post on the same subject last year, I talked fondly of the value that ‘learning away’ opportunities have on our own development of life-long skills, knowledge, and behaviours. We all remember our school trips, good* and bad**, and these memories endure the passage of time as life throws more challenges in our direction. If we equip ourselves with so-called ‘life skills’ alongside forming life-long memories, these life skills are always at-hand ready to be used.

UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) describe life skills as “a group of psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathize with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner. Life skills may be directed toward personal actions or actions toward others, as well as toward actions to change the surrounding environment to make it conducive to health.”

There is no definitive list of life skills, and certain skills may be more or less relevant to you depending on your life circumstances, your culture, beliefs, age, and geographic location. However, the World Health Organization has identified six key areas:

1. Communication and interpersonal skills.

This broadly describes the skills needed to get on and work with other people, exchange information and understanding.

2. Decision-making and problem-solving.

These are the skills required to understand problems you will encounter, find solutions to them, alone or with others, and take effective action to address them.

3. Creative thinking and critical thinking.

This is the ability to think in different and unusual ways about subjects, and find new solutions, or generate new ideas, coupled with the ability to carefully assess information and understand its relevance.

4. Self-awareness and empathy.

Two key parts of emotional intelligence, describing an understanding of yourself and being able to feel for other people as if their experiences were happening to you.

5. Assertiveness and equanimity.

These describe the skills needed to stand up for yourself and for other people, and remain calm with maintained self-control even in the face of considerable provocation.

6. Resilience.

This is our ability to cope with problems, our ability to recover from setbacks and treat them as opportunities to learn and ‘bounce back stronger’ than before.

The trick for us all is to link opportunities for life skill development to something that we enjoy and will remember doing… this is where the Gold DofE Residential in North Devon Coast comes in!

A 'Residential' for Gold DofE is a programme that sees you spend 5 days and 4 nights on a shared activity with people that you have never met before, and is truly an exciting opportunity to meet new people and broaden your interests whilst away from home.  Your residential can have any uniting focus and include any activities with the emphasis of being away from home in an unfamiliar environment and trying something new.

I am delighted to speak directly to all Gold DofE aspirants aged 16-17 and warmly extend the invite to our Gold DofE Residential programme at our Skern Lodge in the North Coast of Devon this year.

“Our Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential programme is designed to develop your skills, confidence, and experience whilst having a great time in the outdoors with fellow likeminded adventurers. The residential week involves activities such as surfing, river kayak, climb, and archery with our team of Outdoor Instructors, tasty food cooked by our friendly Catering team along with warm and welcoming dormitory accommodation - the full package!”
“We have carefully created this programme to align with the Skills Builder framework, a global partnership of employers, educators, and impact organisations that work together to build essential skills for life, in education, and employment - a great way to supercharge that CV, UCAS personal statement, and first job interview!”

~ Ed Tomlin, Operations Manager Skern Lodge

Skern Lodge sits on the banks of the Taw Torridge river estuary overlooking Northam Burrows Country Park in the heart of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and is a short stroll along the South West Coastal Path from the seaside fishing village of Appledore. Nearby are the sandy beaches and surf of Westward Ho!, as well as the rocky clifftops and wavecut platforms of Hartland. We are well-placed to explore our local surroundings of North Devon, whether it be on bike, surf board, kayak, or in a good pair of walking boots.

Supplementing our inspiring local locations are our activity areas on-site at Skern Lodge, which includes our archery range, climbing tower, swimming pool, high ropes, zip wire, assault course, and underground tunnels led by our qualified team of experienced Outdoor Instructors.

Our overnight accommodation is welcoming and restorative, and our friendly catering team ensures that we are all happily fuelled with nutritious and healthy food to get out and explore.

We have also thrown in a minibus transfer to Skern Lodge from Tiverton Parkway railway station, so just let us know if you want a lift. Easy!

“Achieving a DofE Award will give you skills, confidence, and a competitive edge over others when you apply for college, university, or a job in addition to your academic achievements.”
“Universities and employers want to see evidence of ‘life skills’ that you have developed through extra-curricular activities, and your DofE Award is a fantastic way to clearly demonstrate and evidence these important skills in practice which will stand out on an applicant’s covering letter and CV.”
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll also make a difference to other people’s lives and your community, be fitter and healthier, benefit from a boost to mental health and wellbeing, and make new friends.”

~ Ed Tomlin, Operations Manager Skern Lodge

Our DofE Gold Residential programmes are running between the 1st April – 5th April 2024, 27th May – 31st May 2024, and 12th August – 16th August 2024, all themed around developing key life-long skills, knowledge, and behaviours in the outdoors with inspiring visits to some of my favourite locations listed above as well as a suite of classic adventure activities.

Find out more, including full programme details and timings, and book on HERE.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us via skern@skernlodge.co.uk or give us a ring on 01237 475 992.

*watching the northern lights after a snowy day hiking in arctic Finland

** falling into a peat bog during my GCSE Biology field trip and ruining my field notes...