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 young person 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 young person is under 18 we will require parental consent for them to join an expedition and for you to act as a guarantor against any shortfall in their fundraising.
What happens if we sign up, and my young person changes their mind and decides they don’t want to go any more?
Taking part in 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 their fundraising target in order to make an informed decision. If they decide they do not want to go after they have accepted their place on the programme then they can withdraw or defer their place to the following year. All donations made to the charity are non-refundable.
What happens if my young person 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 do everything possible to support them to get the most out of being on expedition with us.
How fit does my young person 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 young person 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 and training week led 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
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 young person’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 young person 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 14-25 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 and 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 young person to go on a trip like this!
We understand that it may be tough as a guardian or carer to allow your young person to be away from you for such a long time.
Encouraging your young person 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 young person 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 young person 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 mentally 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 young person, give us a call or send us an email and we can talk through their 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 young person joins us please feel free to get in touch with us.
Expedition & Safety
What does each programme 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 does each programme 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.
What does fundraising for expedition involve?
To learn more about how fundraising targets are set and how young people can fundraise for their expedition programme, click here.
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 young person 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 young person 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 young person?
No, all our expedition programmes include comprehensive travel insurance.
"Challenging myself to go on an expedition was the best thing I could have done at this stage in my life. The expedition, and everything that led up to it, was an incredibly rewarding, and life-affirming experience. I feel incredibly lucky to have spent such an extraordinary three weeks with a truly brilliant group of people, who I hope to stay in contact with and hopefully go on more adventures with in future."
Izzy - Young Explorer, Canadian Yukon 2022
"After the expedition I really do feel that I have a greater sense of self-confidence. The expedition has made me happy with who I am and confirmed the journey I want to embark on. I felt as though I could see my goals more clearly making me want to go on more expeditions in the future. On top of this I am even engaged in geographical dilemmas facing the world, which has made me more motivated to succeed in my studies and pursue a Geography degree."
Nye - Young Explorer, Hartz Scottish Explorers 2022
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.
John - Young Explorer Dangoor Next Generation 2018
"What I have found the most interesting post-expedition is realising how much I’ve learnt from the other people in my fire and on expedition. 5 weeks is a long time to be around people you don’t know very well 24/7, so there’s a lot of time for talking, sometimes about trivial things but also about some serious issues and debates. I’ve found this is what I have been applying to life back home the most – reminiscing on these conversations and applying new world views to my own thinking."
Edie - Young Explorer, Kyrgyzstan 2022
I completely opened myself up in an entirely new and thrilling environment. Not only did I return as a person who had developed a great deal and who had in many ways matured, I did so with many new friends at my side.
Gus - Young Explorer, Canadian Yukon 2019
"One of the reasons I went on expedition was to prove to myself that I can do the things that at first glance I feel like I wouldn’t be able to. I like to take going up the mountain really literally - many times I’ve heard that 'problems are like climbing a mountain' and there is something so rewarding and freeing knowing I’ve actually done that!"
Grace - Young Explorer, Dangoor Next Generation Iceland 2022
“Things changed for me this summer and my life was transformed when I found the inner strength to ignore the negativity of bullies and overcome my self-doubt and anxiety, to put myself forward and join the awe-inspiring, mixed ability, month-long Dangoor Infinity sea and land expedition of self-discovery to Iceland.”
Joshua - Young Explorer, Dangoor Infinity 2019
“We’ve embraced others, ourselves, but finally the stunning nature that has submerged us these last three weeks. Seeing the complete wilderness of this beautiful landscape has revealed… the little things can have such a big impact, which can be easily ignored when living in a fast-paced city… [it] has inspired us all to change our ways to conserve the wonderful world we live in.”
Kyle - Young Explorer, Dangoor Next Generation Iceland 2019
To see how far we had come in 3 weeks in terms of fitness was incredible but also seeing how much stronger we were emotionally was unbelievable. This experience proved that I can do anything I put my mind to and with determination and support from those around me anything is possible.
Charlotte - Young Explorer, Canadian Yukon 2019
Life changing. I have learnt more about myself than I ever thought I could know, a journey of self-discovery. British Exploring attracts such a unique blend of people, you are definitely going to meet some friends for life - like minded people you never knew were out there that are just like you.
Dasha - Young Explorer, Amazon 2017