Maybe it’s none of the above.
Perhaps, rather than seeing these young people and their window gazing in a negative light, it is more useful instead to see the opportunity which lies within that wistful window gaze and think about what could be placed just within eyesight that could make these young people dream of what might be possible if they allowed themselves to dream a little bigger...
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award presents young people aged 14 years and over with the opportunity to stretch their wings and learn about the wider world which lies beyond the classroom window.
It is an award which provides an extensive but manageable level of challenge for the young people who attempt it, and it requires effort, commitment and hard work over a sustained period of time.
But the rewards are well worth it, with those who complete it joining the ranks of many thousands of young people from countries around the world who are award holders.
Now in it’s Diamond Anniversary 60th year, the award runs across three separate levels – bronze, silver and gold – with each level providing a higher level of challenge than the previous one.
Young people need to make a commitment to completing activities across several areas, setting their own goals and recording their achievements as they work towards their chosen award level.
Within each award level, personal goals are set and worked towards across the areas of physical recreation, skills and service.
This encourages young people to be physically active, develop their own talents or learn something in a completely new skill area and also to appreciate the value of giving something back to the community in a way which interests them.
The timeframe for the bronze level of the award, which is the most popular amongst school age participants, is three months minimum for each of the areas of service, physical activity and skills, plus an additional three months in one of these areas.
But it is probably the fourth area of the award which holds the most appeal for many of those young people who sit gazing out of the classroom windows from time to time, dreaming of the lie which lies beyond.
For the final area of the award is the ‘adventurous journey’.
This area provides an opportunity to explore outdoors over a period of at least two days and one night for the Bronze award, in addition to completing preliminary training and a practice journey.
The journey is completed as a group, with participants needing to be involved in the planning, preparation and safe implementation of their journey.
Many schools and community based organisations encourage young people to take part in the award, but it is important to recognise that this is not for everyone.
The time commitment needs to be carefully considered and it is important that there is sufficient resourcing, support and skill available to ensure the award activities are able to be completed safely.
There are accredited outdoor education providers who are able to offer the training, practise and journey components of the adventurous journey, through experiences such as tramping in the wilderness, camping, climbing, rafting or other similar pursuits.
The activities which young people have completed as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award is seemingly endless.
It is important that the activities chosen have meaning and value for the person undertaking them, and that they represent an opportunity to extend skills and abilities, do something completely new and different or undertake a personal challenge.
The activities selected need to be appropriate for the participant and should not be competitive – this is an award which is more about personal achievement and growth than it is about competing with others.
Previous award holders have taken part in everything from sailing to piano, rock climbing to tramping, cooking meals to track maintenance.
Many young people who have a disability or additional learning need also complete the award each year, setting goals and challenges which are appropriate and relevant for their specific needs and abilities.
The requirements for each of the levels are not prescriptive except for the time commitment, so there is no difficulty with modifying or adapting activities to ensure they are able to be completed safely by a person who has a disability.
It is about finding something that holds true meaning for the participant and then making a commitment to stick to that activity for a period of time, rather than becoming a high achiever in a particular chosen activity.
For those who are stuck for ideas, there are plenty to be found online, with short video clips of previous participant’s journeys and learning experiences available to watch if a burst of inspiration is needed to get the ball rolling.
Preliminary training for the Bronze and Silver levels can be done online to help ensure young people are fully prepared before undertaking their adventurous journey.
The Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award is a wonderful way of helping young people achieve greater self confidence, planning skills, independence and initiative, whilst also offering a chance for new experiences and challenges in life.
Many who complete the award feel it helps increase their employability, but for most it is simply the immense sense of satisfaction and achievement which they experience that makes the hard work of undertaking the award truly worthwhile.