Our purpose is to provide life-defining experiences to young people through access to adventure and challenge in the wilderness. Our job is to balance the positive benefits of the opportunities provided through access to the wild with the potential risks and broader responsibilities of running expeditions.
We add new programmes with collective excitement – and cancel an expedition with a very heavy heart. We know that the decisions we must sometimes take can cause great disappointment.
The multiple impacts of the COVID pandemic are likely to have an impact on communities – and therefore on our programmes – for years, rather than months. We are braced for significant and regular changes to our programme for the foreseeable future.
COVID is not just devastating families and health care provision in some communities. Political and economic instability may follow, leading to potentially longer-term structural issues. Travel to these areas may not be responsible – or even feasible.
We are working flexibly as we can, balancing our assessment of the resilience of destinations with the expectations of our Young Explorers, their families, and our loyal volunteers.
Here is our first update on our plans for 2021;
- UK Explorers Spring 2021 will now be a virtual expedition programme, learning from and building on the experiences of our first digital expedition over the autumn half-term of 2020.
- We are launching a 3- and 5-week expedition to Namibia for summer 2021. Namibia has provided a hugely rewarding expedition destination for us in previous years, and we are very pleased to be planning a return to the oldest desert on the planet.
- We have cancelled our expedition to the Peruvian Amazon for Summer 2021. Peru has been exceptionally hard hit by the pandemic.
- We are running weekly Wildestan Adventures online throughout the Spring of 2021.
- Hartz Scottish Explorers, Dangoor Next Generation Iceland, Landmark (Finland), and the Yukon are all in our expedition programme for this year.
We know that our wider community will feel overwhelming sympathy and share the frustration of those whose expedition plans have been badly bruised by the impact of COVID and the decisions we have had to take – or may yet need to take – as a result.
We know that you will also be thinking about the local agents, guides and small communities who may well depend for a sustainable income on ventures like ours. The decision to cancel an expedition is a difficult one.
Please contact a member of the team if you would like to know more, or to get more involved with our work. Against a backdrop of uncertainty, it is the consistent investment of faith from our leaders, explorers, families, donors, partners, agents and members that will enable us to make a difference to young lives this year, one way or another.