"The Award Concept is one of Individual Challenge. It presents to young people a balanced, non-competitive programme of voluntary activities which encourage personal discovery and growth, self-reliance, perseverence, responsibility to themselves and service to their community". -- Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Opportunity and Challenge
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme is about challenge. It is also about providing the opportunity to accept a challenge. The challenges are not simply to do with hiking from one point to another, or learning a new skill like photography or cooking. The Scheme offers young people the opportunity to set a goal and achieve it. Along the way they learn about qualities like responsibility, trust and the ability to organise themselves.

There is no competition between participants. The only person with whom participants compete are themselves. Self-motivation is critical.

The value in accepting the four challenges set by the Scheme is obvious. Each requires a special dedication, both mental and physical and, while the structure of the Scheme provides specialist help in different skills, it is still up to individual participants to make their own way as best they can. No lectures are provided, no exams are set. Success comes through a conscious decision to accept and take up the challenges.

THere is no such thing as failure in the Award Scheme. Even if an Award is not attained, just being involved brings new friends, new knowledge and new adventures which are, above all, enjoyable.

How the Award Scheme Works
The Award Scheme is a programme of cultural, practical and adventurous activities, embracing the four sections of Service, Expeditions, Skills and Physical Recreation.
  1. Service - to encourage service to others
  2. Expeditions - - to encourage a spirit of adventure and discovery
  3. Skills - - to encourage the discovery and development of personal interests and social and practical skills
  4. Physical Recreation - to encourage participation in physical recreation and to improve personal performance.
Activities in the four sections are intended to complement each other and provide a balanced programme.

There are three Awards -- Bronze, Silver and Gold. For each Award the participant has to fulfil the requirements of each of the four sections of the Scheme in accordance with the conditions. There is an additional requirement for the Gold Award -- the Residential Project.

The range of activities that can be undertaken is almost unlimited.

With the assistance of adult advisers, participants choose programmes that meet at least the minimum requirements laid down for each section. In this way the programmes accommodate the participants' interests, geographical location, background, capabilities and available resources.

Participants usually pursue the chosen activities in their own time. Their progress is assessed by adult advisers knowledgeable in each area. In this way both the participants and the adults are encouraged to improve communication and understanding, whilst working towards a common goal.

Although many organisations operate the Scheme, as part of their own programmes, participats do not have to join a special group to take up the challenges offered by the Award Scheme. They may take part as Lone or Independent participants.

There are minimum starting ages for each level. Whilst there is no time limit for each Award as such, participants must complete their activites by their 25th birthday.

Subject to these requirements, participants may enter for whichever Award is best suited to them. The starting point for entry into the Award Scheme is marked by the purchase of a Record Book, which forms a record of progress through the Scheme. The Record Book purchase price also includes a sum for insurance, with the Award Scheme arranges for all participants and their advisers.

On completion of their Award programme, successful participants receive a badge and a certificate presented on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Source: The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Handbook (uncopyrighted).