Information for parents, carers, families and social workers
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What makes British Exploring Society different?
Our expedition programmes are unique in their team structure, aims and focus. We prepare young people for expeditions to remote locations where they face challenges, acquire outdoor skills and learn about themselves – as well as undertaking projects with content relevant to their lives and to the fragile environments that they explore.
Our expedition leaders volunteer from a wide range of professional backgrounds combining relevant training and experience in adventure, medicine, education and science with an enthusiasm for changing young lives. The results are transformative – not just in terms of practical skills and resilience, but in a new-found confidence and self-belief which they carry forward to their future life.
More than this, through their adventure together, our young people forge friendships for life and become part of a unique supportive and continuing community of explorers with shared experiences, values and perspectives on the world.
What will my son or daughter gain from the experience?
For their own personal development the successful completion of a British Exploring Society Programme indicates that a young person has developed and reflected on their: Perseverance, stamina, communication, tolerance and team working skills, practical problem-solving ability, self-discipline, motivation, capacity for hard work, maturity, and leadership.
Our Young Explorers return back not only with these skills but often with lifelong friends and become part of a broader community of explorers.
What is expected of me, will I have to do lots of paperwork?
We will communicate directly with the young people on our expedition programmes and we would encourage you to let them take responsibility for their preparation and planning.
If your son or daughter is under 18 we will require parental consent for them to join an expedition and for you to act as guarantor against any shortfall in their fundraising.
What happens if we sign up, and my child changes their mind and decides they don’t want to go any more?
Taking part on a programme with us is a commitment. Before taking a place on an expedition programme all Young Explorers will have a conversation with one of our team members when they can ask and be asked detailed questions as well as access detailed programme information, dates and cost in order to make an informed decision. If they decide they do not want to go after they have made that commitment then they can withdraw, however all expedition payments are non-refundable and non-transferrable.
What happens if my child goes on one of your programmes and doesn’t like it, can they come home?
Emergency repatriation is part of the contingency we put in place to allow us to travel to remote locations. If a participant is well, but not enjoying themselves, we will we do everything possible to support them to get the most out of being on expedition with us.
How fit does my son/daughter need to be?
Expeditions require a reasonable level of fitness and often involve a significant amount of time walking, usually with a rucksack. You don’t need to be an athlete but if you can get outside and get your body used to this kind of activity you will adapt faster to expedition life.
If you have never done this before start off with a small bag and get outside for 30 minutes or so. Each week, try and build up the distance that you are going, varying your speed and if possible find some good hills. Once you are comfortable walking for a couple of hours, then start gradually adding a bit of weight to your bag. Start with 10% of your body weight and gradually build up to 10-15kg, but definitely no more than 30%. Not only will this help you build your fitness, it is a great way of making sure that your boots and rucksack fit correctly. A decent outdoor clothing store should help you check whether you are adjusting your rucksack straps properly and whether it fits you well.
Does my son/daughter need to train or go on courses to be able to take part on your programmes?
Prior to expedition departure our programmes will have a pre-expedition briefing weekend or training week lead by their experienced expedition leadership team. At the beginning of the overseas phase itself, there will be a training period to ensure all expedition members have the appropriate skills.
Can we talk to other young people who have been on one of your programmes?
Yes, if you would like to. Send us a message and we are happy to put you in contact with a previous participant. You can also read Explorer Stories here
What are the costs
Why do some of your expedition programmes cost so much?
Firstly, as a charity, we don’t make a profit , so the contribution you make towards our costs is only going towards the delivery of programmes for people like you. Secondly, don’t forget that all our leaders are volunteers, so they give up hundreds of hours of time each year to provide life-changing experiences. As a charity we work incredibly hard to make our expedition programmes financially accessible to as many young people as possible – and our central and administrative costs as a team are extremely modest.
Put simply, our costs indicate our commitment to creating expedition programmes that make a permanent difference for our Young Explorers. We go to genuinely remote wild areas because they offer a unique opportunity for young people to connect with the natural world with other young people in an exhilarating and challenging environment. Because of the nature of our programmes and our commitment to high standards we do more than most organisations in terms of preparation, planning and training. These all take significant time and resource.
What do the expedition programmes costs include?
Prior to expedition we provide
- Support throughout the application process from our dedicated and experienced team.
- On-going help and advice on anything you need from our UK office, including support through calls, your expedition Facebook group and newsletters.
- A Welcome Pack to help you get started including a fundraising guide and a British Exploring Society t-shirt.
- An expedition Briefing Weekend or Training Week to help to get everything prepared, to meet your fellow Explorers and Expedition Leaders.
- An adventurous expedition programme that exhilarates, challenges and inspires in preparation for life and work
- High ratios of leadership and training from world class expedition professionals
- Comprehensive travel insurance
- All accommodation and subsistence (incl. ration packs and fresh food)
- All basic expedition and group equipment (e.g. tents, stoves) and technical and safety equipment (e.g. ropes, helmets & harnesses)
- 24/7 support network based in the UK
- In country agents providing localised expertise
- Lifetime membership of British Exploring Society and certificate
- John Muir Explorer Award Certificate
- Support with your Duke of Edinburgh Award (residential only)
- Next Steps Event (preparation for progression in education or employment)
What do the expedition programme costs not include?
Flights and visa costs, personal expedition kit and any costs related to vaccinations and medications are not normally included. In some cases some or all these might be covered.
We organise group flight bookings so that our Young Explorers and Leaders can travel out and back together.
Will my child need to fundraise for the expedition?
It is not compulsory that Young Explorers fundraise for their expedition cost, however we encourage them to fundraise for as much of the expedition cost as is achievable for them.
To support their fundraising, we offer plenty of case studies and advice. Often, our participants work part-time, run fundraising events, apply for local bursaries and grants and volunteer with a local charity through our Explorer Miles scheme.
When do you have to have completed payment for the expedition programme?
Young Explorers will be issued a payment schedule with regular stage payments to work towards. Final payments will be required by the end of May prior to departure.
How do you select Young Explorers?
Firstly, they must meet the eligibility criteria for the expedition programme, which vary.
Prior to a participant being offered a place we will have an extended telephone conversation or they will take part in a selection weekend.
Before being offered a place on an expedition programme we want to make sure that any young person signing up understands what they are committing to – this is not a holiday. This is the time to ask any questions and raise concerns. We want to find out more about your son or daughter’s motivations to join us, to make sure they get what they want out of the programme.
What kind of prior experience do you need to go on an expedition? I am not sure if my child is ready for this?
We don’t require any previous expedition experience. What do we require is that our Explorers are open-minded, that they want to be challenged, learn new skills and meet new people. Before we offer a place on expedition they need to be prepared to commit to the training, fundraising and the expedition from the start.
Our programmes are designed for 16-25 year olds. They are supported by incredible volunteer leaders who are there to guide, mentor and train our participants. To fill in any gaps in experience all expedition programmes include a Briefing Weekend or Training Week as well as in-country training.
If you are unsure if they would enjoy this kind of experience see if there are any local opportunities to get outdoors with a youth organisation like the Scouts or Cadets, the Duke of Edinburgh award or to go out camping for the weekend.
I’m not sure if I am ready for my child to go on a trip like this!
We understand that it may be tough as a parent or carer to allow your child to be way from you for such a long time.
Encouraging your son or daughter to take on a challenge like this requires bravery from your side too – it is very likely to be the most challenging experience they have had so far in their lives – but it will prepare them for pretty much anything subsequently.
My child has certain dietary requirements, will they able to join?
Yes, most likely. All food is included as part of the expedition and providing we are made aware of particular dietary requirements we will do our best to accommodate them. Every year we have participants who are coeliac, have severe nut allergies, specific religious dietary requirements are vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian or just a bit fussy…
My child currently has an ongoing physical or mental illness, can they still join an expedition?
As an organisation we are striving for inclusivity and to ensure that our expedition programmes can support as many young people as possible.
Prior to being offered a place on an expedition programme we ask all our expedition team members to fill in our Supporting You form. This is a comprehensive medical questionnaire, to help us assess the level of support needed for our participants and our leaders whilst they are away. This process also forms part of our adherence to the British Standard for the delivery of overseas ventures (BSi8848).
It is important to be aware that expeditions will have moments that are physically and mental challenging. Young Explorers will be pushed beyond previous experiences – what we call our comfort zone. This is intentional, and a core, positive part of the experience. If you have questions about what might be involved, and whether it will suit your son or daughter, give us a call or send us an email and we can talk through your child’s needs.
Can you accommodate young people who follow religious or cultural practices?
We will do our best to accommodate any religious and cultural practices. If you would like to discuss these before your son or daughter joins us please feel free to get in touch with us.
What credentials do you have for running your programmes?’
British Exploring Society is an industry leader for running overseas expedition programmes. Our programmes conform to BSi8848: Is the British Standard for organising and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the UK.
Additionally we are accredited by:
- Expedition Providers Association (EPA): British Exploring Society is also a member of EPA and conforms to the Association’s standards. We are a holder of the LOTC: Learning Outside the Classroom quality assurance badge, which demonstrates that we deliver the highest standard of expeditions.
- Adventure Activities Licensing Service (AALS): We are AALS licensed for our activities in the UK and are stringent in guaranteeing our leaders are appropriately skilled and qualified for all activities undertaken abroad.
- Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC): British Exploring is a Quality Badge holder for LOtC’s national award for provision, learning and safety for all types of learning outside of the classroom.
How do you ensure your safety delivering your programmes?
For over 80 years British Exploring Society has been running challenging and adventurous expeditions to remote, wilderness locations both in the UK and abroad. The safety and support of our explorers, volunteers and staff is fundamental to our work and is always our first priority. A commitment to safe practice and appropriate risk management is what allows us to travel to remote locations and to support adventurous activities.
To manage risk on our expeditions:
- Our expedition programmes, Policies and Standard Operating Procedures are planned by experienced expedition professionals and reviewed by an external panel of technical advisors.
- We recruit the best, most competent and experienced leaders, including expedition medics for our expeditions. After a rigorous interview, selection and assessment process we build balanced and skilled teams with a leader to explorer ratio of at least 1-5.
- All expeditions are appropriately staffed with qualified medical professionals consistent with the nature of the expedition, and all leaders undergo courses in expedition and advanced first aid.
- Our Leaders receive further training in addition to the qualifications and experience required at selection. This covers technical and specialist skills, safety and crisis management, continuous dynamic risk assessment in a field environment as well as child protection and safeguarding.
- British Exploring Society adheres to comprehensive Child Protection and Safeguarding procedures; all staff undergo a thorough screening before being appointed including reference checks and completion of an enhanced Criminal Records Check with the Government’s Disclosures and Barring Service.
We operate responsibly and to a high standard, but this does not of course remove all risk. We would remind all parents, carers and participants that any outdoor activity carries risk. This is detailed carefully in the Explorer Contract, and it is important that you read this closely before signing it.
Can I speak to my child whilst they are away?
No. Where there is a genuine emergency we may be able to attempt to make contact. As part of our code of conduct we have no mobile phone policy whilst away on expedition. A significant part of the expedition experience is about disconnecting from everyday life in order to engage fully with the expedition experience, creating space for our Young Explorers to develop their independence. Whilst our teams are out on expedition they send back regular blogs which will give an insight into what they have been up to. Our leaders are able to contact our office staff 24/7 through agreed communication protocols should they need to.
What happens if my child gets sick or injured on the trip?
Every expedition team has Expedition Medics, as well highly experienced expedition leaders who have all undertaken wilderness first aid training and will carry expedition medical kits. Should they need further medical treatment whilst overseas they will be taken to the nearest medical facility. These costs are covered by the travel insurance provided by British Exploring Society.
Will we we need to buy specialist travel insurance for my child?
No, all our expedition programmes include comprehensive travel insurance.
Wow! What an expedition. This has undoubtedly been the best 5 weeks of my life… summiting peaks, listening to the Dali Lama and going on glaciers. I have found all the Science really interesting and have learnt so much about the world and myself. I would recommend this to all young people as it really has been amazing.
Katherine - Himalaya Explorer
The expedition has been a life changing adventure that I definitely didn't expect, with some incredible memories and some amazing people that won’t ever be forgotten.
Harriet - Himalaya Explorer
I loved every minute of what was a life changing experience with some amazing people. I feel I learnt valuable skills and am now in a position to go on to do an awful lot more than I would otherwise have been able to.
Isaac - Himalaya Explorer
‘Five weeks in the Zara Valley has been an experience of a lifetime. Trekking to the highest peaks, battling altitude, the crisp ice as we scaled the glaciers… What an incredible adventure. I am not only taking away memories, I am taking home a wider appreciation for the environment.’ Jennie, Himalaya 2017
Jennie - Himalaya Explorer
It’s been life changing. This has been the first programme I've gone on that's worked for me and has really impacted me. I’d describe myself before expedition as a shy and nervous kind of person who worries a lot, but after finishing the expedition I've really changed and I now feel confident in myself and my ability to push my limits.
As we left the jungle, I realised what an experience I had just had. The bus journey was the first time in 3 weeks where I had been able to completely stop and reflect on my experience. I am certainly more willing to try new things and feel more confident in myself as a person.
William - Amazon Explorer