#DofE Diamond Challenge Weeks 12-16 – What’s your challenge?

Another month has flown by…and two things have become clear (not only the water).

  1. Short impressive feats of endurance (classic ‘challenges’) seem very newsworthy.
  2. Long-lived (one year) challenges involving stuff that people do day to day seem less newsworthy (hence perhaps my blogging slipping from weekly to roughly monthly).

Is there any less challenge in long, ‘chipping away at it’ type challenges? Who is the challenge for? Does any of it matter?

When the #DiamondChallenge was first advertised and I decided on what I would do, it was with excitement and anticipation. I had no desire to bungee jump, run a marathon, or make a fool of myself on a stage, and needed something that would fit in with a very busy life. I wanted to support DofE yes, but at the time it was more of a chance to re-live a bit (and very influential and fun bit) of my youth, by working through a whole Gold DofE programme, or as near to as I could given my adult circumstances (mum of two smallish folk, ageing parents to help out, teaching in school, running a big DofE centre – no glam excuses here, just normal life as I appear to have crafted it, or it me, over the last twenty years).

I chose activities for my Physical, Skill and Volunteering that I was already doing, or wanted to develop – I often advise my DofE participants to do this in one or two sections if they can in order to reduce the need for busying their lives any more than our education system already does, and to allow them to organise the credit they will gain for maintaining current interests as part of their normal, positive lives. The essence (guiding principles) of DofE ie. ‘non-competitive’, ‘achievable by all’ and ‘achievement focused’ amongst others, are the reason why the DofE was the thing that I latched onto at 14, having been a serial last-pick at netball, weedy, non-sportyish, nerdy girl for all of my school life.

Many of the DofE Diamond Challenges are one off events – the launch consisted of some celebrities on a mobile climbing wall in Convent Garden, and there are many people running half marathons, 10/5kms, triathlons, Iron Mans and similar. My super friend /swimming guru Kari Furre will be swimming the length of Lake Windermere in July. I am very proud to say that a chat (over a Halloween glass of wine and dark October sea swim) led to her coming back to DofE having been awarded her Gold in 1969, and I honestly hope that I am still involved with DofE that many years after my Gold (er, 1991…that means I’m aiming for some sort of endurance swim in about 2038 then). Looking forward to living it up with her at the Buckingham Palace Gold Presentation next month!

On the non-physical side some are learning to play an instrument (a certain CEO among them!), perform open-mike stand-up comedy (you know who you are!), cooking weekly, or hosting big events. Some of these examples, although not seemingly as dare-devilish, or adrenaline seeking, would have me and many others quaking in their boots, or struggling with the regular effort needed.

Whether the challenge is a short run, a long walk, an excruciating public performance (on a personal level, hopefully not for the audience), or results in a nice cake, ultimately the challenge will benefit young people doing their DofE – funds raised will stay in the region in which they are raised, and go toward provision of the award for disadvantaged young people.  But in addition to that, the challenge will have given focus to the person completing it. DofE is ‘a do-it-yourself toolkit for growing up‘, in the words of HRH. To me the DofE #DiamondChallenge is an essential tool in achieving a little bit of personal balance, with purpose in life, whether it be for a day, an hour or the whole year – all the challenges are different, but have been chosen because they mean something to the participant.

I will not receive my Diamond pin until after the end of 2016 – when my #DofEChallenge is completed after a year of chipping away at the hour a week of physical activity (happily, I am managing a lot more than this), alongside an hour of Skill (much hooky action in my crochet bag), and the endless cycle of volunteering that is being a DofE Leader (just finished tonight’s adminathon). It is likely that my challenge will receive the most attention from friends and family when I get on to the expedition, and spend 4 days mooching with purpose on Dartmoor, hopefully with a team of friends of similar ilk to enjoy the experience.  I suppose for many a long walk, with camping, heavy rucksack and no showers seems like a ‘proper’ challenge, whereas crocheting some hats and jumping into the sea every week to swim might appear dull, monotonous or just an excuse for fun.

What’s your challenge?!


Clear water and blue sky above this sea swim


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