The DofE Costs How Much??

how much does DofE cost?

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.

DofE kit list

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?


Image Credit: Depositphotos 

9 thoughts on “The DofE Costs How Much??”

  1. Whaaa? We take the scouts away every summer. £125 for a week including activities (caving, trampolining, kayaking, swimming and a couple of castles this year). There’s a kit list of essentials, as we’ve had kids turn up with no jumper before, but things like waterproof trousers are optional. And we take spare everything. Because accidents happen, and also not all families have the resources to kit out the kids.
    I would definitely have been taking a critical eye and a red pen to that DofE list. Yes it’s good to be prepared, but when kids are presumably expected to carry their own kit then the more minimal the better. Hope Flea decides to carry on with it, if not it’ll probably see some cadet use at least. Or sell on to the next unsuspecting DofE parent!

    1. Yes, I think we will be selling some it on if she doesn’t continue – the essential kit plus food has been a real stretch this month!

  2. I shouldn’t laugh… but this is a similar to mine being in Cubs. I loved the last list which said “waterproof trousers, the older the better, it proves they work”. My children keep on growing and a doubt crop waterproof trousers are as effective.
    Tips- Lidl and Aldi do great camping stuff if you happen to be in there on those weeks… Home Bargains also. Sports Direct for back up trainers and clothing. But, usually when you’ve got a list to tick, they’ll never have the things you need.
    It’s rubbish and only works financially when you can build up to it- so the point is completely right- how can something being inclusive when the starting point makes it financially prohibitive.
    In saying all of that, it is worth sticking with, lots of employers support it (including supporting apprentices/ sponsored students to obtain DoE awards) due to aligned competencies/ behaviours…

  3. Wow! That does seem a lot , my kids did scouts for years and that did seem pretty reasonable cost wise and there always seemed to be second hand stuff available to buy or borrow. None of my four boys did d of e partly because of the cost and time commitment but partly because I find it all a bit ‘tick the box’ . They have all volunteered and been involved in charity work for years (not the three months I keep seeing parents looking for) . It seems to have changed over the years into something all the middle class kids do, together. Very cosy and highly formulaic. They can develop more actual skills for life going ‘off piste’ for much less money!

  4. My daughter has recently starred Army cadets and if they do DoE through that, it’s a massively reduced £25. Food for thought that Flea might be able to do more of it if she wishes through her cadet training?

  5. Philippa Reddington

    I’m sure I saw a poster about a DoE discount last time I was in Go Outdoors. Having said that even a 10% on £200 of kit is still extortionate for one night away.

    1. You’re quite right, I think once they’re registered you get a card that’s worth 10% off, or 15% at some other stores. But Flea’s only on her practice trip for now, so we don’t have an official card yet. By the time she DOES we’ll have already bought a lot of the kit. Sod’s law.

  6. The cost is horrendous! Child number three is just about to start hers. My eldest did his with Explorers, all supported by volunteers and I paid £35 for his expedition and practise expedition in total. As a lifelong intrepid Scout, he had all the kit. Child number two did his through school, which was provided by a private company. I ended up paying £300 for his expedition, practise expedition, planning days etc. I was horrified! Child number three is a different school and a different commercial company. I’m paying just under £200. The company has all of the essential kit available to hire, so we will look at that if there’s anything we don’t already have at home. This seems a much fairer way of doing things, but it’s still not exactly accessible and inclusive for a lot of families.

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