Trainee Leader Programme

The Trainee Leader Programme is a selective course for the next generation of leaders looking to level up their experience and lead in a challenging environment.

It is designed to give both specialist and transferrable leaderships skills for those wishing to pursue a career involving leadership in outdoor environments. Over the course of the programme you will gain relevant industry qualifications, develop practical expedition leadership skills and invaluable in-field experience.

To be the first to hear when the 2018 course opens please sign up here.

Full - Amazon 2017        

Full - Yukon 2017           

What's involved

Off-site Safety Management qualification.
Expedition First Aid qualification.
Basic Expedition Leadership qualification (Level 3 certificate - recognised through Sports Leaders UK).
Guidance and advice from experienced expedition leaders.
Insight into the logistics surrounding planning and delivering an expedition.
In-field expedition leading experience.

Expedition breakdown

Cost: £4,350 
Duration: 5-6 week expedition (departing as part of the advance party)  
Locations: Amazon, Yukon and Himalayas
Includes: 4 Residential Weekends and 6 weeks on expedition
Certification post expedition worth over £1000
(Excludes international flights, transport for residential weekends & personal kit)
Age Range: 18 - 30 

How is the course designed?

Following a competitive selection process which includes a competency based interview, the course is delivered through 5 modules. This includes pre-expedition training weekends, practical field experience, reflective learning sessions and feedback. To support your development there will be independent assignments and a curated reading list. You will receive mentorship from experienced expedition leaders throughout the process and gain a unique insight into the logistics surrounding planning and delivering an expedition.

The Programme culminates in you putting what you have learnt into practice on an extended 6-week expedition to one of our open expeditions – in 2017 this will be to the Indian Himalayas, Peruvian Amazon or the Canadian Yukon. During expedition you will be part of a fire (group) working alongside the Leadership team to deliver a transformational expedition. It is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge to train others in safe expedition skills, plan expeditions and take on leadership roles as part of an expedition team.

The course meets the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Expedition Leadership and Management, BS8848 and industry standards to produce competent and qualified Trainee Leaders who will go on to develop the experience and skills to become the expedition leaders of the future.

Module 1: Introduction

Date: February 25th - 26th at Lichfield, Staffordshire
An intense two-day training in leadership and practical expedition skills. You will learn expedition planning, camp craft, navigation skills and safety, and risk assessments.

Module 2: Expedition training

Date: March 18th-19th at Windermere, Cumbria
After your initial training in this weekend alongside the Expedition Leaders you will go through Technical Training relevant to your expedition. You will be part of the planning and logistics of the expedition.

Module 3: Practical leadership in action

Date: April 3rd – 9th at Lichfield
First Aid Course:
A highly comprehensive 16hr nationally recognised first aid course specifically designed for expedition leaders and delivered by industry specialists.

Explorer Briefing Weekend: This weekend is designed to brief the explorers with the knowledge they need before embarking on expedition. You will be an integral part of the weekend and will put your new knowledge into practice, helping to design and deliver sessions and ice-breakers.

Module 4: Six week expedition

Date: +/- 20th July – 29th August
Going out as part of the advance party you will help finalise logistics in-country before embarking into the field to help deploy Base Camp.

During this time you could be leading and running training sessions, helping with logistics in Base Camp, developing science projects, debriefing and reviewing with young people or assisting in leading groups through the expedition. You will continue your own leadership development journey with frequent mentoring and coaching with your Trainee Leader Mentor.

Module 5: Assessment

Date: November 25th – 26th
The final part of your incredible nine-month journey. Alongside your other Trainee Leaders you will be tasked with planning a short expedition in the UK. Alongside your portfolio of experience and leadership you will be assessed for your Level 3 Basic Expedition Leader Course.

With your new experience you can now gain paid or voluntary work with schools, youth organisations, university clubs or Duke of Edinburgh’s Award groups. This will allow you develop the necessary further skills to become a leader with us in the future.


The Trainee Leader Programme is designed for those looking to take the opportunity to use their passion for the outdoors and develop their natural leadership capability.

You will gain relevant skills, mentorship and experience. It is our hope that you will become the next generation of expedition leaders.

In order to be ready to make the most out of the Trainee Leader course, applicants should already have had the following experiences: Active Leadership Candidates should be able to demonstrate prior experience of active leadership.

Previous trainee leaders have held positions of leadership at youth organisations including the Scouts, the Guides or the Combined Cadet Force, leadership positions at their school, or captained or coached a sport including outdoor and water sports.

Overseas experience In order to have the confidence and skills to lead we do require previous overseas experience. Candidates must have experience of at least one of the following:

a. Overseas expedition (minimum duration - 3 weeks)
b. Independent travel (minimum single trip duration - 4 weeks)
c. Overseas fieldwork or equivalent (minimum duration 2-3 weeks)

Outdoor experience Our Trainee Leaders, in addition to our leaders, must have a passion for the outdoors and we would expect them to be active in the UK (e.g. hill-walking, camping, climbing, kayaking)


These qualifications along with the personal experiences you will undertake will provide you with a suite of recognised professional qualifications that will give you a step up into the expedition leading world. 

The Level 3 Basic Expedition Leader (BEL) Course 

The Level 3 Basic Expedition Leader (BEL) Course is nationally recognised as the leading award for low level terrain in the UK.. The course will include theoretical and practical leading, navigation, camp craft, teaching and training methods and expedition safety management. This will mean that you could gain paid or voluntary work with schools, youth organisations, or Duke of Edinburgh’s Award groups, where you can develop further your leading skills.

The Expedition First Aid Course
Delivered through leading industry providers this 16hr nationally recognised first aid course specifically designed for expedition leaders. Content includes the standard protocols for emergency first aid, CPR, dealing with wounds and fractures, incident management, as well as specific procedures and theory around expedition related injuries and illnesses, prevention, treatment and management.

Off Site Safety Management Course
This is a course recognised by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) as the standard for teachers, youth leaders and expedition leaders planning safe educational Off Site trips. It includes planning, risk assessment, safety systems, legal considerations, incident management, reviewing and learning lessons. 

Who is the course delivered by?

The Course Director is James Dyer, Operations Manager at British Exploring. James is an experienced and professional expedition leader. He has set up and led expeditions and adventurous projects across the world for a wide range of client groups from young people, adults, scientists and TV production companies. His background is in outdoor and adventurous sports coaching and instructing, and he has been involved in developing young people and expedition leaders for nearly 20 years. See a full interview with James on our Peruvian Amazon expedition page as he will also be our chief leader in the Amazon in 2016.

In addition to James, the course is delivered by a range of expedition professionals and subject specialists. Whilst on expedition you will have a dedicated Trainee Leader Mentor who will coach you throughout your time on expedition.