Real Life Story: Sheila, Young Explorer Guardian
By British Exploring Society,
“It truly has been his own experience and one which I know he will remember for ever. He’s been challenged and pushed, and made friends that he will keep for many years, and I’m sure that the confidence and resilience that he’s built through the experience will stand him in good stead for when he leaves home for university in the next couple of years.”
Our son, Nate, went on a 5 week expedition to the Yukon in Canada. He found out about the British Exploring Society and the opportunities on offer, through a friend at school. The initial plan had been for a big group of them to go, but one by one, they dropped out, leaving Nate on his own! I think initially the reason that Nate wanted to go, was for a big adventure. He’d done his GCSEs and was at the end of his first year of A levels, and wanted to do something new. Despite the travelling that we had done as a couple before our children were born, a very rural childhood meant that Nate had never been abroad and had never even been on an airplane, and he was super keen to do so! Although we had done a lot of family camping on holidays and music festivals over the years, this was the first time that Nate had taken on a personal challenge like this.
When Nate first talked about the expedition, we thought it sounded amazing and were keen to support what he wanted to do. We fundraised as a family by having boot fair stalls and having a really good clear-out! The team at BES were very supportive with outlining what the process would be after his application was successful, and as a low income family, the assistance they gave us with provision of equipment was much appreciated.
The pre-event training courses did require commitment from the whole family as unfortunately North Norfolk is not very convenient for getting to and from either Birmingham or North Wales, but we understood the importance of him getting to know the team he’d be with before departing for Canada, and we all committed to the cause! By the end of those sessions though, Nate was very confident in his abilities and in knowing how to deal with the various situations that could be thrown at him. The packing list did look a little daunting to begin with, but the years of experience behind it, meant it was pretty easy to follow and despite our fears, came easily within weight!
To be completely honest, Nate was very nervous on the day of departure, but the Leaders rallied round him, and with the help of one of his amazing peers, we sent him on his way. In practice, 5 weeks did seem like a really long time and we missed him immensely. It was tricky being out of contact with him for that long and we did wonder whether we should have just settled for the 3 week trip rather than 5 weeks! However, we were completely confident that he was having a good time and that we would be contacted if there were any problems – there weren’t!
It was great to see photos of where they were on the blog, although in the photograph of the back of lots of heads, we weren’t really sure which one was Nate!
Since his return, Nate has mentioned Canada, and the things he experienced, regularly. He’s done something amazing that none of the rest of us can really comprehend despite seeing lots of photographs. It truly has been his own experience and one which I know he will remember for ever. He’s been challenged and pushed, and made friends that he will keep for many years, and I’m sure that the confidence and resilience that he’s built through the experience will stand him in good stead for when he leaves home for university in the next couple of years.
We (and Nate) would recommend this experience to anyone. It’s not easy and you will be challenged, both as a guardian and as an attendee, but the end results have been completely worth it. The opportunity provided by British Exploring Society offers an experience that would be impossible to match on a family holiday, and gives participants freedom while being supported by genuinely remarkable leaders. If you’re considering donating to support the BES, please do – you’ll be changing someone’s life for ever.