Real Life Story: Young Explorer Grace
By British Exploring Society,
“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!”
My name is Grace, I’m 17 years old, and I come from Nottingham! I’m currently in Sixth form studying English Literature, History and Psychology, and I would love to go on to study English and History in University. In my free time, reading and listening to music are huge parts of my life, I’m also a big foodie! I play the drums and love a good bike ride or a nice walk with my friends and family – never forgetting our two daschunds George and Mildred! For me, spending time with the people closest to you is the most important and worthwhile way of spending your time, especially if it’s outdoors, so having the opportunity to meet brand new people and experience the sheer beauty of the Icelandic wilderness is so amazing!
I heard about British Exploring Society through doing NCS after year 11 and applied as soon as I could! Having British Exploring Society as an organisation offering these opportunities is so important for our generation, especially after COVID-19, but in general, for young people to have this once in a lifetime experience is so special – for mental and physical health it is so freeing.
My feelings about the upcoming expedition are mixed – excitement is rife within our group, but of course so is nervousness! As a completely brand-new experience for all of us, support both inside and outside of our fire (group) is vital, and I am very lucky to have that! I think that motivations on an expedition like this are so important, and for me, that is to better myself as an individual, for my close friends and family, especially my dad, who has a condition called pulmonary fibrosis, but amazingly has just had a lung transplant this final weekend before expedition – so I want to get out to Iceland and smash all of our goals!
As preparation for our expedition, we were each set a fundraising target, and could go down various routes to raise money for future young explorers and British Exploring Society. The skills I learnt while doing this were to have resilience, and to try everything, which is great experience for later life – and I can’t forget to mention that I mastered cookie baking! As tips for fundraising, I would say to stick with what you know, and to get yourself involved with your local community – and never forget that good deeds go a long way.
Our UK based training has been a brilliant way of preparing for expedition – you watch your fire grow and adapt with each day, and see your bonds grow stronger with them, while you learn the skills and take in the mindset that will keep you safe in Iceland!
On my expedition, we had such an amazing and eye-opening experience – every single person, especially me, learned something about ourselves and what we can achieve. We conquered a 22km crossing of Europe’s largest desert in a day, on the way to Dyngjufell, and then back again! We also went to see the beautiful waterfall Aldeyjarfoss, then ventured up the mountain Sellandafjall. Of course, we all made really strong bonds within our fires, and I think the friendships I made are my high of the trip alongside the stunning views we got to see. As a low, sometimes the homesickness for me was the worst part of the expedition, but you just have to think about all the amazing things you can tell your friends and family when you get back!
One moment of the expedition I will never forget will definitely be the moment we all reached the top of the mountain together – it was the thing I personally was most nervous for, the thing I was thinking “oh gosh – how will I ever do this?!” but we smashed it, and to do it with my friends just added so much to the memory!
We learnt a lot about seismology and how to triangulate where and how severe an earthquake will be.
Before expedition and when I first heard of British Exploring Society, I had just started year 12, and feeling very stressed and not too confident looking ahead to Sixth form!
Applying what I learnt on expedition has been a joy, now I’m starting year 13, and going on expedition has definitely built on my confidence – 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 the “problems are like climbing a mountain” and there is something so rewarding and freeing knowing I’ve actually done that!
Definitely – confidence as a first and foremost thing, but also a more positive outlook in general, having to work as a team and overcome all of the things on expedition has really changed my world view to help start breaking things down and get up and go!
The next thing for me alongside my A-levels now is to apply for another expedition, I would love to build on my skills I learnt in Iceland, and then the year after, I would love to start looking at becoming a Trainee Leader! My Leaders were wonderful, Rhys, Louise and Will definitely made the experience whole – they offered amazing and heartfelt support at every turn, and were so lovely and funny too.
British Exploring Society is so special because it offers once in a lifetime opportunities to young people that can set them up with skills and memories that will last forever.
If someone was looking to join an expedition but was undecided, I would 100% tell them to go for it – it will be tough of course at points, but you will learn so many things about yourself and make so many good friends.
If somebody wanted to make a donation, I would tell them it is most definitely worth it, you can enable a young person to have the opportunity to grow in a completely new environment, which is amazing!