2023 to 2024 – a year for improvement

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO

British Exploring Society has just completed the summer phase of its 2023 expeditions in the UK and overseas.

Our thanks as ever for the herculean efforts of our professional volunteer Leader community, and to the supporters and partners who make our work possible.

We are already receiving uplifting feedback from Leaders, young people, and their families as they return from their summer programmes and we looking forward to meeting them again at our Explorer Celebrations on 4th November.

We are also preparing for next year, of course.

Where are we now?

We operated without pause through the pandemic. We created our own virtual continent to make live adventures possible in 2020, delivered a full set of expeditions in the UK in 2021 against a backdrop of punishing regulation when overseas work was impossible, and returned without taking a breath to full global programmes in 2022 and 2023.  We have delivered very positive outcomes and maintained a small financial reserve throughout. We are aware that many organisations working in the outdoor sector have had an existentially tough time. Some are no longer with us – and the fundraising environment we operate in as a charity is consistently challenging.

In 1932 we provided a unique opportunity for young people. 91 years later, after a boom-and-bust in the availability of charitable youth development opportunities based in the wilderness, we are back to providing a development opportunity unavailable elsewhere.

So we are, finally, taking a deep breath in 2024. We remain committed to the life-defining value of experiences in genuine wilderness, and want to ensure we are in good shape for the long-term.

We are making time to tackle processes which have been frustrating us, including those stemming from the pandemic, and which could impact on our effectiveness in the next five to 10 years. These include the recruitment, support and training of our Leaders, our communications, and our fundraising.

What does this mean in practical terms for the next 12 months?

We are as usual revising or creating new programmes and exploring different wilderness destinations in the UK and overseas, and reconnaissance for new locations kicks off imminently.  But to give us the breathing space we need, you can expect to see a temporary reduction in some overseas activity for 2024. We will continue to work with partners to meet the needs of a wide range of young people in 2024, and hope to expand our Expeditions Workshop programme.

More details for 2024 will follow as soon as they are finalised, and we hope to open Leader and Young Explorer recruitment for our 2024 programmes in October.