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How to choose your Gold DofE activity Residential

Find out how to choose your perfect Gold DofE activity Residential in 6 easy steps.

Seven young people around sixteen years old are outdoors, sitting in a row waiting their turn to go climbing. The people facing the camera are smiling and all wearing red climbing helmets. The person closest to the viewer has put both thumbs up. They are part of a group doing a Gold DofE activity Residential.

What is the Gold DofE Residential?

Part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program, the Gold Residential is a 5-day trip away from home with a new group of people. You will undertake shared activities, training or volunteering to develop skills and relationships that underpin confidence, communication and teamwork. Residentials are a great way to try new activities, develop skills and relationships, and create memories you will appreciate forever.

Did you know?

Different activity Residentials cover different sections of the DofE Award: volunteering, physical, skills, expedition and residential. Programs can involve anything from conservation work, first aid training, STEM camps or outdoor activities!

There are many subjects and activities to choose so it can be overwhelming when faced with such interesting options. Not only do you have to decide what you are doing, but you also need to make sure the program and operator meet the Gold Residential requirements.

Click here for the key Gold DofE Residential requirements

The main requirements for a Gold DofE Residential are:

  • Minimum duration of 4 nights and 5 days long

  • You will stay with your group in shared accommodation

  • Group sizes of 5 or more, not including the course leaders and identified Assessor

  • The other group members should be new to you

  • Daytime activities with the group should involve skill development, qualification training or volunteering

  • Evening activities with the group are organised or informal

  • An Approved Activity Provider operates the Residential

Mendip Activity Centre was one of the first Approved Activity Providers in the UK and we have decades of experience offering activity residentials and DofE Expeditions. Based on that knowledge, we have created a quick-start guide to help you choose an action-packed, fulfilling activity program.


Thirteen kayaks are viewed from above on a sunny day, rafted up side by side on a river. Four of the kayaks are orange and nine of them are blue and white. Lined up like that they make a pretty shape in the water, curving in a gentle line from end to end.

Step 1 - What kinds of activities are you interested in?

You can volunteer, work towards a qualification, or learn new skills. People choose different types of Residentials for all sorts of reasons, such as:


  • They want to incorporate it into their academic and professional goals

  • They want to give back to the community

  • They want to push their boundaries safely

  • They want to explore or develop their knowledge of a subject or skill

  • They want to meet new people and expand their horizons


Depending on your interests, you will find something that suits you. In our experience, outdoor activities like climbing, target sports, kayaking and more offer a great blend of challenge and fun. It is a fantastic way to experience nature and demonstrate many qualities educators and employers look for in potential candidates. You will develop skills that transfer to all aspects of your life, like confidence, communication and teamwork, and you may discover a new passion along the way.


Step 2 - Decide what kind of Residential you want to do

First, be aware that DofE Residentials differ from DofE Expeditions and will not count towards that section.


Now, after reading all the above you need to consider what you would like to do. Look at other people’s reviews and experiences; YouTube is useful for seeing what you may encounter. Search the internet for DofE operators to see what is available and what you find appealing. Consider your budget and what is included in the cost, and make sure the operator has an Approved Activity Provider certificate for Gold Residentials.


A group of young people carrying rucksacks walk away from the viewer down the gravel track lined with colourful flags at Mendip Basecamp.

Step 3 - Choose the time of year for your Gold DofE activity Residential

Winter and summer offer different experiences due to the weather; however, neither is better or worse, and we love both. The timing of your Residential program will ultimately come down to personal commitments, proximity, and weather preferences. Regardless of the time of year, we always recommend waterproofs!


Step 4 - Choose a location

There are plenty of choices of DofE providers around the country. Depending on your circumstances, outdoor activity Residentials are a brilliant way to explore the countryside and see beautiful places.


Here in the South West, we are lucky to have easy access to a wide variety of land and water-based activities, so each day is packed with sessions that will naturally develop skills and confidence. Plus, our Gold DofE activity Residential hub is close to Bristol and easily accessible via key transit links like the M5 and nearby train stations in Weston-Super-Mare.

Four bunk beds with blue mattresses are in a room with hardwood floors and two windows that let in sunlight. One bed has a sleeping bag and rucksack on it, and the rest are ready for their new occupants.

Step 5 - Look at different DofE operators

Whatever your chosen avenue, you will find several operators and organisations that can offer activity Residentials. Options and costs vary, from the National Citizens Service organisation opportunities to overseas volunteer or activity providers. Make sure you find out what they include in the price of the Residential and what happens if they need to cancel it.


Fortunately, Mendip has never had to cancel a Gold DofE Residential because we are consistently a popular choice.


Click here to find out what kinds of activities we offer on Mendip’s Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Residential

Participants get to do activities like:

  • Mission Impossible Challenge

  • Archery

  • Air Rifle

  • Axe Throwing

  • Kayaking

  • SUP

  • Assault Course

  • Raft Build

  • Rock Climbing

  • Abseiling

  • ArcheryActive

A person with long hair wears a black paintball-style mask and is pulling back the string on a bow they have loaded with a foam-tipped safety arrow.

Step 6 - Find out what is included in your DofE Residential

Residentials are excellent value and offer exciting opportunities to broaden your horizons. However, it is worth considering that the cost of Residentials can vary depending on what you are doing and where you are going. Make sure that yours includes everything and that there are no hidden fees. Our Residentials include everything in the listed price and you will always know what you are getting.


On our DofE activity Residentials, we always include:


  • Full catering, including packed lunches

  • Choice of accommodation: canvas tents in the camping field, or bunk rooms with ensuites in the Lodge

  • Technical equipment

  • Activities and instruction

  • Transport


Now you are ready!

We hope this guide has helped you choose a Gold DofE activity Residential. We enjoy running these programs and look forward to seeing many more of you try it out.


You can find out more about the Mendip Gold DofE activity Residential here or email your questions to dofe@mendip.co.uk.

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