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A glimpse at our future

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO

At our recent Next Steps event we asked our Leaders to shout out words they hoped would express us as an organisation 10 years from now.  Here are the words they used:

‘Sustainable. Zero waste. Relevant. Courageous. Intentional. Innovative. International. Effective. Responsible. Inclusive. Dynamic. Nurturing. Exciting. Adventurous. Inspiring. Curious. Experiential. Game changing. Zero carbon. Sensitive. Caring. Regenerative. Re-wilding. Influential.’

This autumn, Council and the senior leadership team have been working on the core of a strategic narrative for our next ten years, to take us to our 100th birthday. Many of you will have started to hear more about our drive towards sustainability, our commitment to equity and inclusion – and may wonder, therefore, what shape that strategy is going to take.

We will try and update you regularly and will share the headlines of the strategy with you all as soon as we can.  In the meantime – here’s a flavour of our plans, which we’re pleased seems to mirror the ambitious words used by our Leaders:

  • Our vision for the future continues to enthusiastically embrace challenging adventure and transformative access to the wilderness for young people.
  • We will be continuing our work  – with the support of partners –  to reach out to the most excluded and under-represented communities across the UK – and to challenge ourselves to find ways to offer a better welcome to future Leaders and team members who will help us by providing the creativity and perspectives on the world we are going to need to succeed in future. Our ambitions require us to be a more inclusive and diverse organisation than we are right now.
  • Over the next ten years we have set ourselves the ambitious challenge of engineering a model for exploration with young people which we can sustain into our second century.  We hope to typify and celebrate this with a special and very ambitious expedition programme in our 100thyear.
  • 10% of the earth’s wilderness has degraded in the last 20 years.  It is now critical to engage young people – from every part of society – and give them the opportunity to experience the value of wilderness.  We have an obligation to deliver better, deeper experiences over time, and to make the most of every precious second we have with young people, in order to deliver maximum benefit, in the most effective, sustainable way.  We will be travelling differently, and more thoughtfully.
  • Engaging with science in and about the wilderness has never been more important.  But we think making that engagement meaningful and lasting is also a challenge, and we will be investing more in science and knowledge.
  • We think we have much to learn about how best to use the time we have with our Young Explorers from our members, and from the journeys they took with us – particularly those who travelled with us before charter flights. Many organisations are discovering ways forward from previous practice and knowledge. We have incredible archives and a community of knowledge to listen to and draw from.
  • As we increase our carbon literacy, for example, we can start to tackle our environmental impact. We understand our current and historic carbon footprint better, will be reporting on it, and are making positive decisions to reduce our output.  We are also working with external partners to develop long-term, forward-looking ways to acknowledge our impact on the planet, and to harness whatever resources we have for the greatest possible future benefit to our community.
  • We’ve got a name for our strategy – A Wild Future

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I joined British Exploring Society as CEO in February 2016. Previously I was CEO for 6 years at the Aldridge Foundation where I helped establish 12 state schools in some of the most deprived parts of England.

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO