This week’s minor heart attack was given to me by the extortionate cost of DofE exhibitions.
Whether you’re paying school fees or not, education definitely isn’t for free these days.
Next term Flea will start Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and I got excited because the army gives us a uniform for free. But of course, the boots were £50.
And that’s just for starters.
This term has also included an art trip to London (£80), a new tennis racket (£50), replacement shoes (£40), and a trip to the BBC in Manchester (£25). Then there’s the seemingly endless top-ups of her lunch card. Although on that last score, I’ve a sneaking suspicion she runs into the lunch hall each day and shouts, “Capri Suns are on me!”
But friends, nothing so far prepared me for Flea’s first Duke of Edinburgh trip. This trip will be Flea’s first DofE experience, and it’s billed as a “practice” session.
She leaves on a Monday, does a day of activities, and comes home on Tuesday. For this I pay the only slightly eye-watering price of £85.
Does This List Seem Long to You?
Flea came home with a kit list that filled an entire sheet of A4 paper.
For ONE NIGHT away from home. For a PRACTICE night away from home.
Flea’s experience of camping is really limited to a few stays in yurts, and a spot o’ glamping. The only sleeping she’s done under canvas before has been at PGL or on school trips where all the kit was provided.
This time there’s a list. A really, really long list.
At the top of the list was clothing. Two pairs of trainers (or walking boots), and two outfits. A waterproof jacket and trousers.
Then there’s activity clothing, including shoes for canoeing and a swimsuit to wear under the wetsuit when they go gorge walking.
The kids need to eat so they need a packed lunch, water bottle and an enamel plate, bowl, mug. And cutlery, obviously.
They need a sleeping mat, and bag.
But we’re not even close to done yet. There’s still bug spray, sun screen, torch, walking socks, blister plasters, a hat, and gloves.
And a day pack to carry some of this stuff in when doing activities. OBVIOUSLY.
My Problem is This
Of course, we all want our kids to have all the things they need when doing out-of-home activities. I want Flea to be warm and comfortable, and safe.
But it struck me as ridiculous as I struggled to carry a mountain of supplies around a branch of Go Outdoors this weekend.
Flea only really has one pair of sports trainers, that she’s happy to get wet and dirty. New trainers are NOT cheap. Nor are walking shoes. I’ll spare you what I said when I realised that waterproof trousers were £50 a pair (although we found a pair on the sale rail for half that price).
This is a one-off night away and, if Flea chooses not to continue with D of E, then all of this kit will likely go into a wardrobe. There, it will be safely ignored until I donate it to some charity shop or other in a year or two.
Some of the kit we’ve been able to cobble together from things at home. But I still managed to spend the best part of £200 on “essential” kit for a practice expedition. If you add on the £85 cost of the trip itself, that’s almost £300 on just one night away from home.
Shouldn’t D of E be accessible to everyone?
How Much does DofE Cost?
I don’t know if this kit list is typical of how all schools approach DofE. But looking at YouTube and other school DofE kit lists, it seems to be about right.
If anything, we’re lucky Flea only needs to take a “large packed lunch and evening snacks” since the school will give the kids a hot meal in the evening.
At the moment Flea is thinking that she might like to join the DofE programme next year. If she does, I’d love tips from other parents. How did you cut the cost of DofE exhibitions?
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