The participation process

The personal participation process of a young person is essentially supported and accompanied by his Award Leader.

It follows the process that runs through the whole programme: Set goals, plan action, implement planning, evaluate action and adjust goals if necessary.

The following diagram illustrates the participation process:


Tasks of an Award Leader

The Award Leader’s tasks include the following, which are ideally distributed among several team members.

  • Approaching and recruiting interested participants, collecting signed registration forms and entry fee, and monitoring participation in the online digital record book (ORB).
  • Co-designing the personal Duke programme in the areas of service, talent and fitness with the participants, where possible, as part of a structured mentoring process using our ‘Challenge Target’ tool.
  • Acknowledging achievements already made, establishing a “we-feeling” and motivating to keep at it, e.g. within the framework of regular group meetings during the course of participation
  • Ensuring…
    Expedition training
    Supervision of the planning of the trial and final expedition by the students.
    Supervision of the trial and final expeditions (spring to autumn)
    Monitoring of the expeditions by experts
    Evaluation of the documentation in the Online Record Book
  • Presentation of the awards in a festive setting (co-)designed by the participants with special recognition of the successes.
  • Ongoing publicity of the Duke in the school community (photos on the notice board, etc.) and communication with school management, staff (and parents).

Depending on the number of participating students, it is advisable to appoint one of the Award Leaders as Award Coordinator.

Planning a programme with our Guiding Principles

Our guiding principles have been established in order to ensure that a young person has a meaningful and purposeful journey through their Award, as well as ensuring that the impact of achieving their Award provides a lasting personal legacy. The Award’s guiding principles are as follows:

  1. Individual. Individuals design their own programme, which can be tailored to suit their personal circumstances, choices and local provision. They start at whichever level suits them best and they can take as long as they wish (within the age limit) to achieve their Award
  2. Non-competitive. Doing their Award is a personal challenge and not a competition against others. Every participant’s programme is tailor-made to reflect their individual starting point, abilities and interests.
  3. Achievable. An Award is achievable by any individual who chooses to take up the challenge, regardless of ability, gender, background or location, with the right guidance and inspiration.
  4. Voluntary. Whilst the Award may be offered within school, college, work time, custody or extra-curricular activity, individuals choose to do a programme and must commit some of their free time to undertake their activities.
  5. Development. Participating in their Award programme fosters personal and social development. Individuals gain valuable experiences and life skills, grow in confidence and become more aware of their environment and community transforming them in to responsible young adults.
  6. Balanced. The Award provides a balanced framework to develop the individual’s mind, body and community spirit by engaging them in range of activities in up to five different challenges.
  7. Progressive. At each level of engagement, the Award demands progressively more time, commitment and responsibility from the participant.
  8. Inspiration. The Award inspires individuals to exceed their expectations. They are encouraged to set their own challenges and goals before starting an activity, aim for these goals and by showing improvement will achieve an Award.
  9. Persistence. The Award requires persistence and cannot be completed with a short burst of enthusiasm. Participants are encouraged to continue with activities and to maintain their interest beyond their programme requirements.
  10. Enjoyable. Participants and Leaders should find the Award enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding.


Expeditions on Bronze and Silver Level

The Award section “expeditions” offers young people a unique, challenging and unforgettable experience and is for many participants* the highlight of their Duke experience.
Following the trail of the Nibelungen in the Odenwald on foot, exploring the impact of the Ice Age on the landscape of the Uckermark by bike, or experiencing real wilderness by canoe in Masuria: the possibilities are endless for an expedition that takes young people out of their comfort zone, where they learn to love nature and better understand their own influences on it, in addition to developing teamwork and leadership skills.
The necessary knowledge and skills for the accompanying preparation, planning, implementation and evaluation of an expedition are taught in our programme course. For day-to-day reference, Award Operators have access to our handbook and expedition guide.
Possible modes of travel are: – on foot – bicycle – sailboat – canoe or kayak – wheelchair – Horse
To be recognised as an expedition, each tour must meet the 15 criteria for expeditions:
15 Conditions for Expeditions


The programme course teaches the necessary knowledge around expeditions at the bronze and silver levels.

Expeditions on the Gold Level

Gold expeditions may only be carried out in wilderness areas.

“Wilderness areas” are areas of free nature in Germany (or abroad) that are recognised by the Association as environments for Gold level land expeditions. Possible areas are the Schwarzwald oder the Odenwald (see more about possible bivouacking in Odenwald here). Although not “wild” in the true meaning of the word, they are so remote that all ventures must be completely self-contained for safety reasons. The specifications for undertakings in wilderness areas therefore also apply to bronze and silver tours that take place there.

Only assessors accredited by the Association are allowed to work in wilderness areas. They must have sound local knowledge and be able to advise groups planning an activity in the area concerned.

At least six weeks before an unaccompanied practice or final expedition in a designated German wilderness area, it must be registered with us. This notification must be made with the prescribed planning documents using the current forms by the Award coordinator or supervisor. With the submission, the Award Operator declares its legally binding agreement with the planning; documents submitted by participants can therefore not be processed.

The reporting system only serves to control the standards. The group must therefore still take care of all permissions (private grounds, bivouac sites, etc.) themselves. The sole responsibility of the Award Operator and the supervisor as their representatives for the safety and welfare of the participants remains unaffected by the registration and the National Award Operator does not assume any responsibility for the undertaking. Further information can be found in volume 2 of the handbook and in the leader’s folder.

Developing the organisational key processes

In organisational terms, the programme work stands on seven pillars, of which communication is the central one. The others are shown in this diagram and form the basis for developing an individual concept for the programme work:


Central to the sustainability of the Duke is its visibility within the organisation offering it and beyond.  A higher profile not only helps to recruit new participants and find colleagues who would like to participate in the Duke, but also to inspire volunteer supporters in the school environment and perhaps even local sponsors who could, for example, host the award ceremony in a special setting. Increased awareness helps to deliver on the programme promise.

If you have been offering the Duke for a few years and would like to deepen your programme work, we recommend participating in the “Management Course”, which focuses on analysing and sustainably anchoring the programme work using the EFQM quality framework.

For us as an association, media coverage of the Duke at local and national level enables us to acquire funding to reach more schools and young people and to further expand the programme.

We are therefore looking forward to receiving inspiring stories and/or photos from Duke participants from all over Germany, which we may use on our website, in print media and, if applicable, in social media. Please send us photos and stories (if necessary with the appropriate declaration of consent from the young people and their parents)!


Contact Us

Monitoring and evaluating

In our toolbox, we offer several surveys for direct use by our Award Operators to internally evaluate the satisfaction of all Duke stakeholders, especially participants, but also team members. These surveys allow Award Leaders to gain insight into the experiences of their students and staff and to continuously improve the implementation of Duke.

At the national level, we distinguish between programme-specific ‘outcomes’ and societal ‘impact’ in terms of the impact goals we aim to achieve, and we evaluate their achievement on a regular basis. You can find out more about this in the section “About Us”.

Roles and Volunteering

By getting involved with the Duke, you are helping young people to realise their full potential and start their adult lives with a strong belief in their own abilities. Any adult who can spare a little time to support the implementation of the Duke can (volunteer) at the Duke.

This could be support in the Expedition Award section of the programme, such as education, or a special offering in the areas of service, talents or fitness. The Duke is offered to institutions that work with youth and young people. These range from schools, colleges and youth clubs to other places such as voluntary organisation meeting places, businesses, prisons and young offender institutions.

Within a provider organisation there are different roles for adults, which may well be taken on by participating pupils. Whether it is a school or youth club, a business or a prison, they all rely on (young) adults to support the young people taking part to complete their Duke and receive an award.

If you would like to volunteer for the Duke programme, please contact us directly. We will be happy to refer you to your nearest licensed school or discuss ways in which you can implement the Duke at your organisation or even support our association.

Award Coordinators:

As an Award Coordinator, you will ensure communication within the team, with the participants, with the school management, the staff, the parents and the association; you will recruit new staff members for the Duke team and ensure that the Duke work is fun and enjoyable for your team despite all the challenges; You ensure that all Award Leaders are trained and qualified to accompany the participants; You ensure that all Duke dates are noted in the school calendar and that the school management is informed; You negotiate any compensatory days and discount hours for expeditions carried out and prepare the budget for the Duke work.

Award Leader:

Award Leaders are responsible for a group of participants. They guide them in designing their programme, recognise successes along the way and motivate their group to ‘keep at it’.


As an activity assessor, you monitor a young person’s participation in an Award section and confirm that they have carried out the activity within the prescribed framework. In your report, you point out the particular strengths of the young person.

In the Award section Expeditions, final expeditions are assessed by adults who have participated in the Association’s programme training course and are therefore qualified as expedition assessors.

Supervisor on expeditions:

In consultation with the Award Leader, you will conduct or ensure that expedition training takes place; guide an expedition group in planning their expedition; and be responsible for the safety of the group during the expedition.

Why support the Duke?

By supporting young people to learn new skills, develop their confidence and resilience, and take responsibility for society as an Award Leader or as part of a volunteer role, you are not least developing and strengthening your personal skills and leadership qualities.

Above all, however, you enable young people to discover their potential and thus contribute to more educational equity.



Code of Conduct

The Award has a clear pedagogical and ethical foundation. The motto and general principles serve as a guideline for the personal conduct of all adults working with young people.

The rights, protection and welfare of children, adolescents and young adults are our top priority. This also means that we do everything we can to protect children, young people and young adults within our own organisation and within our network and to help them obtain their rights.

Please contact us if you suspect a violation of participants’ rights and support your participants to be heard in cases of rights violations. To do so, please contact Vanessa Masing in confidence: [email protected] or directly to a child protection hotline.


Code of Conduct

Safeguarding Policy


Duke Logo

To brand their programme, licensed organisations can use the following logo. For further promotional material, please contact the international Award Brand Centre, which can be found via one of the tabs on our homepage (registration required).