Ideas for Gold Residentials
We are often asked for ideas for Gold Residentials, so here are some thoughts.
The criteria for a Gold Residential is 5 days and 4 nights away from home with people you have never met before (you may go as a pair, but anymore is considered too many except in exceptional circumstances). Your activity must be unpaid, but you can receive expenses, e.g. for travelling. The philosophy is that this section acts as a stepping stone between youth and adulthood. You must speak to your leaders about your residential activity before you go, as we are supposed to get Operating Authority approval for you. Blue type indicates an activity that someone from FOAG has used for their Gold Residential.
FREE OR DIRT CHEAP
Charitable organisations – many charities will accept young volunteers on summer camps or holidays for the elderly, disabled, disadvantaged, etc. Sometimes you will have to pay your own travel costs; sometimes these expenses are covered by the charity concerned. Charities also organise various work camps, both at home and abroad, especially in developing countries where their work might be in construction, education or helath-related areas. This is a very broad area and worth investiating. Opportunites are often listed on the DofE website, or you could contact the charities direct. (Not all of these will be free.)
Conservation Volunteers – there are many projects available here (not all will be free), but check out the websites of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), National Trust, English Heritage, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), etc. The Ffestiniog Steam Railway takes DofE volunteers, and there must be many other similar organisations who would be helpful if you asked them nicely! (Not all of these will be free.)
First Aider? – there are many opportunites for First Aiders to volunteer their services: the most appealing may well be Glastonbury Festival! Although your Residential has to be 5 days and 4 nights, it can be done in two batches of 3 days and 2 nights if necessary.
Outdoor Education – Oxfordshire has three centres – Woodlands, Yenworthy and Kilvrough – and will take volunteers (one person did this as his Y12 work experience and counted it as his Gold residential as well). Speak to staff at FCC, or apply direct.
Religious Groups – church communities and religious groups organise a wide range of summer residential activites in this country and abroad. These range from spiritual retreats, to holidays, to education or health-related work, to construction projects, etc., etc. You could attend these as a participant or a volunteer.
Rotary Young Leaders Award– this is a ten-day leaders course held each July and based in the outdoors which is entirely sponsored by the Rotary Club. It is a valuable and well respected award, and as it is fully paid for by Rotary, it’s a great opportunity for any young person. Rodney Benson is the person to contact in Faringdon.
School Residentials – you may be able to go on a school residential for students younger than yourself - the local primary schools and FCC run appropriate trips. You will be expected to act as a responsible adult, not just join in like one of the children!
Scout Association – lots of opportunites here: scout camps will happily take volunteers although you would need to go with another pack, not your own. Your own Scout Leader could help you find a suitable contact, or Miss Kilburn would be able to help. Also, Youlbury Scout Camp in Oxford is very happy to take volunteers in the Summer holidays – you can contact them direct or through your own scouts.
GOT A LITTLE BIT OF MONEY TO SPEND?
There’s a huge range of things you can do for education, to be active, or just for fun. Google some of these:
University preparation courses
A-level revision courses
Music summer schools
Language schools – foreign or TOEFL – in the UK or abroad
Sports camps/coaching courses
Outdoor courses/bushcraft/Outward Bound
Arty courses: painting, scuplture, pottery, needlecrafts, etc.
Such activities will vary in cost but there are plenty out there. One cookery school specialises in teaching cookery to students about to go to university and in its advertising states ‘suitable for Gold DofE Residential’ (see ‘Final Thoughts’ below)
(If you already have teaching/coaching qualifications, consider offering these when looking for a free volunteering opportunity.)
POTS OF MONEY, RICH PARENTS OR A TRUST FUND?
The world is your oyster and the opportunites are endless:
Charitable projects abroad
‘Gap Year’ projects (the kind that advertise on the Internet)
Some of these may always be out of your range, but some are truly awe-inspiring and may give you the incentive to save up – you have until your 25th birthday to complete your Gold programme.
When choosing an activity for your Residential, think about your hobbies, but also your future career plans – some of these activites may help you decide if a particular career path is for you and look valuable on your CV. Volunteering on a holiday for the disabled would be relevant to caring work or medicine; helping with the disadvantaged would be good experience for social, youth or probation work; conservation volunteering may well be relevant to engineering or careers in the outdoors; outdoor education, the scout association and school residentials can be valuable for those hoping to go into teaching, and so on. One FOAG participant went on a school residential while working in a stop-gap job and came back saying he had decided to go into teaching – he now has a degree and is planning his PGCE while this year enjoying a sabbatical post as Vice-President of his Student Union. If you choose a skills-based activity, this could be very useful on your CV – an extra sport that you can coach, an extra language that you can offer, and so on.