Erin Maitland

The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Program was a journey that changed my life. The truth on why I started this award was a girl told me how she went dog sledding over I thought it was the coolest I had ever heard. I asked how she got the chance to do that and she told me that it was through Duke of Ed. I was got the explanation from a teacher I think everyone gets about the program that it is a way to learn outside the classroom and is unique in its premise. But I soon realized that this is just the frame-work for the award, the journey it actually takes you on is beyond the scope of one’s imagination and everyone’s experience is different. It challenges one’s dedication, self-knowledge, time-management, and so much more.

I grew in all areas of my life, I gained a voice, a love for the outdoors, passion, dedication and understanding. Moreover, my eyes were opened up to the world around me, I met people from around the world that taught me so much. They taught me new perspectives and I built new friendships that will last a lifetime.

Duke of Ed was the first time I stepped outside my comfort zone and did something just for me. For example my physical recreation during my bronze award, I choose to join my high school cross country team. This is a big deal for me- never in my life did I think I could run any type of a race let alone a long-distance one. Practicing daily really teaches one dedication but more importantly cross-country showed me it is not about winning or losing the race it is about running it. Each step of the race is like a step in life. With each step I took with cross country I made a new friend, I challenged myself and found out I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for. In the end, I realized that even though I did come in last at the cross country meet & I was devastated, I was still lucky. I had a team to support me & a coach as a new leader.

The memories from the award are endless & I am so grateful for the award.