DofE Gold Residential: How we adapted to meet COVID guidance

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, so we were keen to ensure that the young people booked onto our DofE Gold Residential Programmes did not miss out. In order to achieve this, careful forward planning was essential to ensure our Duke of Edinburgh residential was a safe as well as rewarding experience for all of the staff and students involved. Here we outline the various ways we adapted to meet COVID guidance.

Planning a DofE Gold Residential programme

In the weeks prior to the residential the Cumulus Outdoors team sat down and worked through the make-up of the programme. The aim was to establish how it could be designed and delivered in a safe but effective way.

The following is an outline of how we were able to optimise the experience while adhering to Government and industry specific guidelines, with a break down of each of the stages we considered. This is further evidence of how Cumulus Outdoors are able to devise and develop school residential programmes that meet meet learning objectives and work within prevailing health and safety guidelines.


  • Reduction in course numbers to ensure adherence to operational and distancing guidelines
  • Regular communication with parents and participants to offer advice, reassurance and details of the programme changes
  • COVID Secure plan devised with Visit England accreditation


  • Reduced room capacity – 1 or 2 per room depending on group composition to give plenty of space for social distancing within larger rooms
  • En-suite bathroom facilities for all participants
  • Enhanced cleaning practices and 72hr quarantine of room between residentials to ensure facilities were COVID secure
  • Accommodation flexibility allowing for one-way corridor system and sanitising stations

 Communal areas

  • Large indoor areas made available within the Cumulus Outdoors Residential Centre to allow for social distancing during down time
  • Regular COVID secure cleaning of communal facilities and high touch areas


  • Programme adapted to allow students to plan their own menu, which is then prepared by our team
  • Top food hygiene ratings allow for flexibility in working practices to adapt for COVID
  • Large dining room prepared to allow for social distancing

Outdoor adventure activities

  • All operating procedures adapted to work within COVID Secure guidelines with minimal impact on the programme or loss of activities. For example, whilst on an outdoor activity we can work to our normal ratios providing social distancing/mitigation (such as face coverings) is in place. When off activity the rule of six applies and we have adapted our transport timetables and communal spaces to allow for this.
  • Flexibility of instructors with a ‘can do’ attitude making sessions fun and interactive whilst still following the prevailing guidelines. Instructors have embraced new sanitisation and PPE protocols and made them part of the session rather than an added inconvenience. This helps to relax and reassure participants while getting the most from a session.
  • Large pool of reliable instructors allowing us to increase ratios as necessary
  • Movements reviewed to and from activity sessions to work within regulations. Rule of six on transport plus face coverings and sanitisation. Some activities brought closer to allow for walking and shorter journey times.

Parent and student feedback

We were delighted to receive some great feedback from both parents and participants grateful that we were able to provide a residential experience on the Dorset coast. We’re so pleased that we have enabled young people to achieve part of the DofE Gold Award at this challenging time:

“Thank you for looking after my teenager, he really enjoyed himself and had a good time despite the challenges of Covid and the weather. It sounds like he was with a really good group and thoroughly enjoyed meeting all new people. The staff were very professional and the communication with booking/travel logistics was excellent.
We are extremely grateful for your care and I have already recommended your organisation to a few friends.”

“Please could you pass our thanks on to everyone involved in organising and running such a fantastic DofE Gold residential? Our son Sam had a fantastic few days with you and came away with having learnt new skills, made new friends and with a renewed sense of self-confidence. We are enormously grateful for the work that went in behind the scenes to make this week possible.  We can only begin to imagine how difficult the planning for this week must have been in the current circumstances.”

“The gold DofE residential was fantastic. The week was filled with numerous activities, which were led by informative and entertaining staff. Beforehand, communication was great – big thanks to Jackie for answering my many questions. Roxie was a fab chef and food was amazing, she also did a great job informing us on exactly what was happening so the week ran smoothly! Big thanks to Jess and all the other instructors for all the activities – especially the coasteering! The week was well adapted for Covid and I felt safe at all times.”

Please get in touch with the Cumulus crew to secure your place on one of our upcoming DofE Gold Residential programmes in Dorset! We would love to share our beautiful location on the Jurassic Coast and introduce you to a raft of outdoor adventure activities. Find out more about the various ways we’ve adapted to meet COVID guidance by speaking with a member of our team today.