Real Life Story: Young Explorer Evan

By British Exploring Society,
charity update

Hi, my name is Evan and I’m 15.

I’ve grown up with the outdoors right on my doorstep. From a young age I came to love spending time outdoors and learning skills I’d need to survive in the wild. The outdoors became a place where I feel comfortable and an environment that I most felt confident in. For example, I’m not an academic kid and I’ve always really struggled with anything that involved reading and writing. I’m a practical lad, who has always been home-schooled and so this has given me the opportunity to learn more about the things that I’m interested in and build my self-confidence through becoming good at those things and learning new practical skills. So when I sit down to do the things I find tough, one, I’m much better at them but, secondly, I’ve found that I actually enjoy them. So for me the outdoors is not only an interest but a massive part of my education and something I’ve used to help me overcome my struggles. I see how much of a difference the outdoors can have on a young person’s life.

I saw a post about British Exploring Society on Facebook a while back when I was looking at expeditions, explorers and adventure Facebook groups I could join. I clicked on it and it took me to a page titled something like “LISTEN UP YOUNG PEOPLE, come take part in our virtual adventures and explore the wilderness where you stand.” That sounded right up my street.

My dream is to become a polar explorer and expedition leader who takes young people who are struggling in life – with their mental health, low self-confidence and all the other struggles that they face – on expeditions to help transform their lives. I have faced my own struggles and found solutions to them through my love for the outdoors. I have seen how much of a difference it makes to me, but at the age of 15 being an expedition leader is not quite possible and so I’m in training. Then, when I saw that the British Exploring Society do virtual weekly expeditions that I can join from the wilderness where I stand, where I could learn the skills I’m going to need to be an expedition leader from experts in their field, it sounded perfect! Looking back now I’m so glad I hit that sign up button.

I love Wildestan Adventures and I’ve learnt so much. Each week is something completely new, ranging from how nature benefits your mental health to exploring quarries and cliffs or learning practical skills. I just kept coming back because I love being able to learn new skills and ask questions to experts who are enthusiastic and passionate about what they love and happy to share their knowledge with young people who are enthusiastic to learn.

For me, one of my highlights was when we cooked expedition-style food, Fish and Chips gone wild. I love cooking, especially over a campfire or in the wilderness and so I loved cooking along and having tons of fun. My other highlights are the time when we went searching for bugs and other wildlife in a city centre and learning how to be more resourceful and reuse stuff that we see only fit for the tip and to reduce our waste – a skill that’s needed in the wild but also one that we need in our everyday life, now more than ever.

The Wildestan expeditions have definitely boosted my confidence – my confidence in learning new skills but also my self-confidence.

By unmuting myself, asking questions and chatting with the experts and other young people when that Tuesday evening came around once a week, I feel as if I have gained more confidence. It has definitely helped me to make connections with other expedition leaders which will hopefully help me towards my dream of being an explorer. Wildestan also gave me a talking point which most people were interested in.

As I write this I’m in the last stages of preparation for the British Exploring Society expedition to the Scottish Highlands which I’m well excited about. One of the things I’m really looking forward to is trying out some of the skills that I’ve learnt from Wildestan.  For example, I imagine we’re going to be getting our drinking water from the streams up in the mountains and so purifying it is going to be essential for the team (Fire) to stay safe and healthy.

Through finding out and joining in with Wildestan, I found out that I was old enough to join in an expedition. I applied and was so happy, extremely grateful and honoured when I got that email saying basically ‘welcome to the team’. I’m sure this opportunity is going to be life-changing and have a massively positive impact on my journey in trying to achieve my dream of becoming an explorer.

As someone who wants to be an expedition leader who works with young people, the Leaders couldn’t have been any better. Being able to ask for advice and get tips was great.

British Exploring Society is so unique and epically awesome. What I love about them is that they are accessible to all young people no matter what your circumstances and their expeditions and workshops are not only for people who have lots of money they make it accessible for every young person. From what I’ve read and heard and (hopefully will soon experience) is that their expeditions are no package holiday. They give teens and young people a real sense of adventure. Some people may think adventures are only for young kids who have a vivid imagination. Well, I definitely disagree, that sense of adventure is 100% buried deep within all of us and sometimes it just needs unearthing.

If you ever get the opportunity to do anything with the British Exploring Society – whether that’s to join in with a season of Wildestan or to go on an expedition somewhere on our planet – then grab it.  A motto I try to live by but sometimes find tough is to ‘get stuck in’ and give it your all and in the end you’ll come away with the biggest grin on your face.