Information about DofE expeditions

Getting out there, and keeping safe

Running an expedition is no mean feat! Make sure you’ve got all the information you need to run them safely.

All DofE expeditions in Girlguiding must use the DofE expedition notification form. This is used for all Girlguiding DofE practice and assessed expeditions at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. It’s our way of checking the route and supervision plans are safe and meet the requirements of a DofE expedition.

You'll need to make sure the expedition information is up to date in eDofE. Your county DofE adviser needs to approve your form before your expedition can take place. Make sure you read the guidance notes before completing your form. 

Alongside these forms, you’ll also need to make sure you have Health forms for all participants and Information and Consent forms for any participants under 18. There's more information on the girl-led residentials page.

Guidance on the expedition notification form

Read through this guidance to make sure you fill in the form correctly and get your DofE group out and about in the great outdoors.

This form is designed for DofE expeditions, but you can also use it if you're planning a Queen’s Guide award expedition (if it isn’t a DofE expedition as well). Check with your commissioner first in case they would prefer you to use a  REN for or 18-30 residential form instead.

Before you start

  • You need to complete 1 form per group doing their expedition.
  • Check out the information on Guides and Rangers walking without a leader to make sure the supervisor has the right qualifications.
  • If you are an expedition group based in Scotland or Wales, check the approval process with your country/region office, as these use different DofE licences to the England and Ulster licence. See the information below on which branch of Girlguiding to notify. 
  • You need to submit this form 6-8 weeks before your expedition takes place. If you don’t have all the documents ready then, you can re-submit the form and send the extra information once you have it.

Who’s involved?

There are a few different roles involved with the DofE expedition form process:

  • The volunteer submitting the form. They are responsible for making sure the information is correct and sent to the DofE adviser in time for approval.
  • The expedition supervisor. They are responsible for the training of the group (or checking the group have been trained before they set out if another leader is doing this) and are legally responsible for the group during the expedition. They need to have qualifications for the mode of travel and terrain or water the group is going on.

What other documents do I need to submit with my form?

There are a few things your adviser will need to see to be able to approve your expedition. Ideally, send these in with your form 6 weeks before. But if they’re not ready you can ask your adviser if you can submit them 4 weeks before, separate to the form. They won’t be able to approve your expedition form until they’ve had all these documents, but they can check everything else.

Things to include:

You’ll also need to get parent or carer consent for any girls under 18, and health information forms for all participants. You don’t need to send this off for approval, but make sure you have them for the expedition.

We’d recommend sending the form password protected, as it will contain personal data.

Adult team qualifications and DBS checks

You also need to make sure the DBS checks, relevant qualifications and trainings are in date and not going to expire before or during the expedition. This includes the assessor accreditations and A Safe Space trainings.

Expedition support volunteers

Part of your adult leadership team might include other volunteers outside of the assessor and supervisor. These will be other members of Girlguiding involved in DofE delivery and will help support.

There isn’t a specific role for this on GO at the moment, but as they are working directly with young members, they’ll need to hold a young member-facing role in another capacity and have the correct A Safe Space training levels for that role. They also don’t have to have qualifications in the mode of travel, or first aid, but if they do you can note these down on the form too.

Grid references

If you are doing an expedition internationally, or water based, you might not be able to include the grid references for your route. Chat to your DofE adviser and the relevant adviser (water, walking, international) if this is the case.

Which branch of Girlguiding do I notify?

Girlguiding operates under three licensed areas:

  • Girlguiding England and Ulster
  • Girlguiding Scotland
  • Girlguiding Cymru

All areas use the same form but it will need to be submitted to different places.

If you are based in England or Ulster, see the information below on who to send the form to.  

If you are based in Scotland, send it to [email protected].

If you are based in Cymru, send it to the Girlguiding Cymru DofE adviser. Your county DofE adviser can put you in touch.

For any expeditions happening overseas as part of British Guiding Overseas, see the section on international expeditions.

Who do I send the form to?  

You need to get your DofE adviser to approve your expedition. For most leaders, this is your county DofE adviser. If you are a county adviser, or your county adviser is part of the expedition team, you’ll need to send it to your country/region adviser.

If your area doesn’t have a county DofE adviser, get in touch with your country/region DofE adviser or county commissioner. You can do this through your country/region office.

Once they’ve approved your expedition, you’ll then need to send the form to the expedition assessor. This is so they can check the expedition will meet the 20 conditions and they have all information they need to assess the group, like their aim and route.

You then  need to contact the county adviser in the area the expedition is taking place. Let them know the dates and area you are planning to do the expedition. This is so they can share any local knowledge of anything you need to be aware of, like temporary works affecting your planned route. They don’t need to approve anything, and if you aren’t sure how to contact them, ask your county DofE adviser, or email [email protected].

Supervisor qualifications

If you are planning a route on water or in Level two countryside or above, you will need an appropriately qualified supervisor for the whole event. If it’s taking place on terrain lower than this, they don’t need a qualification but they will need relevant experience.

Check the water or countryside classification and adventure for girls pages on the website for the qualification required. If you aren't sure, speak to your local walking adviser or outdoor activity adviser so they can either do this for you or put you in touch with a volunteer who can.

Whilst it’s not mandatory at Girlguiding to attend the DofE Expedition Assessor and Supervisor Training Course (EASTC) to supervise a DofE expedition, we do recommend it.

International expeditions

If your expedition is taking place abroad, you will still need to submit an expedition notification form, but also follow the process for taking girls abroad, hold the correct Going Away With Licence and submit all other forms as necessary.

For expeditions taking place as part of BGO, please send your form to the DofE county adviser you have been partnered with.

What if my expedition plans change?

Depending on the scale of the change, you might need to re-submit the form to your county adviser for re-approval. Please ensure you do this with adequate time for the new form to be reviewed and accepted.

For example, a small change, such as a new aim, isn’t something they need to be aware of. Larger ones, such as a significant route change, change of supervisor or a new volunteer coming along, would need to be resubmitted for approval and notification. Have a chat with your county DofE adviser about how quickly they can turn around approvals for any last-minute changes.

Supervision plan

The form does ask for a supervision plan, but this isn’t mandatory and not something every group uses in written document form.

Having a plan for how you will check on the group is really important, but it can be flexible and might change depending on what happens on the day, just like your risk assessment. If you have multiple groups out at once, your supervision plan will be different to when you only have one group. Let the adviser who’s approving your form know what the plan is for supervision (either by including a document or otherwise).

Finding a DofE assessor

Each qualifying expedition needs an accredited DofE assessor to attend to assess and make sure the expedition meets the 20 conditions.

  • At Bronze, this can be the supervisor, or someone who has trained the group.
  • At Silver, they can be known to the group but not have had any involvement in their training.
  • At Gold they must be separate and completely unknown to the group.

When finding an assessor, you need to find one who knows the expedition area and is a member of Girlguiding. You can do these one of two ways:

  • Speak to your county or country/region DofE adviser about who is an assessor in the area you want to do the expedition in.
  • Use the Expedition assessor directory (log into eDofE > Resources > Assessor directory) and filter by Girlguiding.

Do I need a Going Away With Licence to supervise a DofE expedition?

DofE expeditions are classed as girl-led residentials so you don’t need to have a leader present with a Going Away With licence. The exception to this is if you are going abroad.

If you are spending a night before or after the expedition in a youth hostel or similar accommodation, you also don’t need a Going Away With licence as long as this has been planned by the group as part of the girl-led residential. This is also true if the group are there for an acclimatisation day.

Time spent at other accommodation should be as brief as possible and included in the risk assessment for your county DofE adviser to approve. It shouldn’t involve activities or be a run as a unit residential. If it is, then you will need to have a leader present with the correct licence and submit a Residential Event Notification form (REN) for this part of the event.

If any of the candidates are using the expedition as part of their Queen’s Guide award (Outdoor Challenge element two), then they don’t also need to do a REN or 18-30 residential form (as the trip is primarily a DofE expedition).

Please note – this only applies to DofE expeditions. If you are taking Guides or Rangers away on a residential trip, you must have the correct licence and use the REN form to inform your commissioner.

The participants

If you’ve got a group of mixed gendered participants, you’ll need to make sure they have separate washing and sleeping facilities.

For groups with trans and non-binary participants, check out our guidance on supporting them, including the section on going away.  If you have any questions or need further support, please contact [email protected].

Expedition variations

To make sure DofE expeditions are accessible for everyone, DofE have a variation process. This means groups can adapt the 20 conditions of the expedition section when they have a participant who needs an adaption.

There is more information on the DofE website on how to do this:

For expeditions in England and Ulster, for all variations at Gold, or conditions 3, 4 and 12 details need to be sent to [email protected] and [email protected] for approval.

For all other variations at Bronze and Silver, the form needs to be sent to your county DofE adviser, who will then send it onto [email protected] for final approval.  

Variations to conditions 10 (at all levels) and 5 (at Bronze and Silver) don’t need to go through this process but should be agreed with the accredited assessor in advance of the expedition.

For expeditions in Scotland and Wales, check with your county DofE adviser as to where you need to send the variation form.

What to check for

  • A Safe Space training levels of the expedition supervision team. The supervisor and assessor need levels 1-3. You can check this through your local commissioner, or ask for proof, like screenshots of completed training.
  • Does the supervisor have the correct first aid qualification? Again, you can either check this through your local commissioner, or ask for proof, like a certificate or screenshots of completed training.
  • Is the assessor accredited with DofE? There are several ways to check this. You can ask for a photo of their assessor card or look at their qualification on GO. They  need to be familiar with the area they are assessing in. Assessors can now assess all levels.
  • The supervisor must have the right qualifications for the countryside/water classification the route is going on. If you aren’t sure, check this with your local relevant adviser.
  • That the route planned is feasible, sensible, and safe. For example, that the route doesn’t involve crossing a river, or walking through private property.
  • This also goes for the supervision plan. It isn't mandatory to have this as a written document but we do recommend it, particularly for newer supervisors or where multiple groups are going out at once. It’s good to have an idea from the leadership team as to what they are planning to do and check they have thought about who will be where for the group at certain points.
  • Have you been sent all the documents outlined in the checklist? This includes an appropriate risk assessment, home contact etc. If not, do you know when to expect them?
  • Has the DofE leader got parent or carer consent for all those under 18?
  • Are the group all  on eDofE, registered under the right award level, with their expedition information up to date? If the group includes participants outside of county, check with this with your country/region DofE adviser (if they are still in your country/region) or [email protected] if they are outside your country/region.
  • Have the group been trained for the countryside/water they are going to be in, as well as following the DofE training framework for the level they are completing?
  • What is the make-up of the group? Does it include members of another organisation? If it includes mixed genders, and over/under 18s, have plans  been made for separate sleeping and washing facilities?
  • If it includes a night before or after, or an acclimatisation day, what are the plans for this?

Once you are happy with the expedition plans, you can approve the form.

Between you and the leader submitting the form, one of you needs to notify the local commissioner and the host county DofE adviser (if taking place in a different area) to let them know the dates the expedition is taking place.

Training groups

DofE expedition supervisors and leaders must ensure that participants are trained to an appropriate level for the nature of the expedition that they are going to be undertaking and its environment. You're required to deliver Expedition Training at each level (Bronze, Silver or Gold).

Read the expedition training framework.

DofE leaders must confirm in eDofE that each participant has completed the required training before an expedition takes place.

Girlguiding requires that all adults delivering the first aid part of the expedition training to girls must either:

  • Be a qualified first aid trainer, or
  • Have completed a 16 hour outdoor first aid qualification.

If the terrain for the expedition is classed as easy, lowland or urban, then adults with a completed 1st Response training can deliver the first aid part of the expedition training. They are required to read the online resources issued by DofE covering the topics of hypothermia and heatstroke.

There’s also more training materials to use with your groups on the DofE expedition page and the expedition resource centre.

Supervisor qualifications

Groups must be trained and supervised by DofE leaders with the appropriate qualification for the highest level of terrain that the group will be travelling through during their expedition. For example, if they’re walking, cycling or canoeing.

Check our adventure information to see what level you need. You must also be qualified and competent to supervise travel in their chosen environment – check our countryside classification for more details.

You’ll need to hold the role of County Duke of Edinburgh supervisor on GO and complete a safe space training levels 1 to 3.

All qualifying expeditions need a DofE expedition assessor. Check out the roles available for what this entails, or if you’re already an assessor find out what you need to know.