I began the Award at the time I completed high school. I got myself a job and began to earn money – which I needed to get my pilot’s license, something I had wanted to do for a very long time. This counted as part of my Skill component.
My Physical Recreation component would be something easily completed as I played competitive tennis and went to the gym; however the Award prompted me to try something new. So I took up taekwondo – another activity which I had long been interested in.
When I began thinking about what I could do for the volunteer component I was at first very lost. “What on earth am I going to do? I’ve never volunteered for anything before in my life!” The Vacswim season was approaching… but I couldn’t swim! My girlfriend helped me expand my repertoire beyond the doggy paddle and a week later I was swimming the 400m required as a part of the Bronze Medallion rescue certificate. I started my volunteer component by working as an assistant teacher during Vacswim.
When university began, I commenced my stay at Aquinas, a university boarding college where I lived with over one-hundred students whom I had never before met. My two year stay at Aquinas more than met the requirements for the Residential Project component – it is here that I have made many lifelong friendships. To others from the country, or those moving interstate to study at university, a boarding college is a terrific way to complete your Residential Project and to develop an invaluable support network.
Completely New and Fulfilling Experiences
In order to fulfil the requirements of the Award, I was forced to find new skills, physical activities, and volunteer positions now that I had completed my flying license and was living somewhere completely different. Had I not been doing the Award, I probably would not have had the motivation to continue volunteer service, nor may I have had the motivation to continue to search for new skills to develop and physical activities to pursue. In Adelaide I became a Red Cross Blood Donor and St Vincent de Pauls Refugee Tutor with the help of the Dukes Office and Aquinas College. I enrolled at Cirkidz to learn circus skills, I worked to improve my strength and fitness at the college gym and I obtained my skydivers A license. To complete my Adventurous Journey I obtained a pilot navigation endorsement which required me to fly a number of cross-country journeys. Perhaps I should also have included my journey to France as part of a university scholarship – had it not been for my activity throughout the Award I may not have been gutsy enough to travel halfway around the world on my own! These are some of the things the Award motivated me to achieve, though I’d need to look through my Gold Award diary to remember everything; it’s great to look back through a little book which documents all of the great things that you have achieved in only eighteen months!
For me, the Award was about completely new experiences. It has helped me to broaden my horizons significantly. Because of this award I have taken on a whole new approach; I am more confident in myself and can take pride in the things that I have achieved already in life. I have developed skills and experiences which I would have once only dreamed of. The Award has made me so much more proactive – before I would only dream of what I could do; now I still dream, but I also go out and do it!
Sam Burdon, Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award 2008