SPRINGDALE, N.L. — For the past two years Lily Jacobs has been taking on extra challenges, testing her physical and mental endurance.
The 16 year old, who attends Indian River High School in Springdale, has been participating in the Duke of Edinburg Awards program, aiming for the silver level award.
The Duke of Edinburgh Awards is an international program designed to encourage young people aged 14-25 to complete challenges as volunteers and in the outdoors, both in group settings and alone.
The Award program involves three levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. At each level, participants have to complete projects in four categories: Service, Skills Development, Physical Recreation, and Adventurous Journey. At the Gold level, each candidate completes a separate Gold Project.
Lily says she learned about the program from her cousins, and began her quest two years ago to complete the silver award.
“I have really enjoyed learning everything involved with the award, from learning how to survive in the wilderness to learning Portuguese,” Lily told The Nor’Wester.
“I also really, really enjoyed the hikes that I took part in at the end of each award, they were definitely the highlight,” she added.
To complete the silver award Lily had to juggle a full school schedule, her usual extracurricular commitments, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh program activities. In addition, she had the extra challenge of working alone for most of her program.
“Although I had some help from the Awards leader in St. Johns, I was mostly working alone,” she said.
“Most people do the award with a group which means they have a leader helping them through the whole process, little things like having to completed training for the hike was hard because I had to go to St. John’s to … for the training.”
Lily has persevered though, completing components of the program by playing minor hockey(for physical recreation component); joining the school band (skills development) and learning Portugse.
For the service component she for she was on the student leadership team at her school and helped coach a hockey team.
As a Silver Award candidate, she also had to complete a lengthy and challenging hike as her Adventurous Journey.
Since that isn’t something a teenager should generally undertake alone, she joined up with a group of Duke of Edinburgh participants from Corner Brook for that activity.
From June 30-July 4, the group undertook a four-day, 40km hike from Serpentine Lake to the Blow-Me-Down trails, each one carrying 40-50 pounds of gear in a backpack.
“Everything we had came on our backs which means there was very little room for luxuries so we really lived off the grid for four days. We slept in tents, cooked food on our propane stoves and carried all that gear in our packs,” Lily said. “The hike was absolutely beautiful, the most gorgeous views. I enjoyed that part to the fullest.
High temperatures and rugged terrain made the hike challenging, but “the views and the new friends made it worthwhile,” she said.
Once Lily sends in her reports and paperwork, she will be the recipient of her Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Jacobs recommends the award program to other youth who are looking for a challenge.
“I would definitely recommend people to get involved in the award, it’s such a great program,” Lily said. “You really get a chance to get out of your comfort zone and do things you may have never done if you weren’t involved with the Duke of Edinburgh program.”
To learn more about the Duke of Edinburgh Awards program, visit https://www.dukeofed.org/nl/division-home.