Real Life Story: Young Explorer Josh
By British Exploring Society,
“Before my relationship with the British Exploring Society began, I had trouble putting myself out of my comfort zone which could be meeting new people or just trying new things. Since that summer expedition in 2021, my general confidence has exceeded greatly, and I now found myself far more at ease with unknown things, people or situations.”
Having lived in the North of England my whole life, I have always been surrounded by beautiful landscapes; with the Lake District only an hour to the west of me, Hadrian’s wall to the north and the many woodlands and forests that are found in Northumberland, I’ve always had somewhere new to explore.
Now studying Biology, Geography and Spanish at my local sixth form, I’ve chosen to pursue the subjects that have always interested me. I have always been fascinated by trees and forests, specifically in the UK, and like I mentioned before I could never tire of the UK’s hills and mountains. All that said, it made sense that the British Exploring Society would appeal to me.
I first heard about the British Exploring Society back in 2021, having just newly finished my GCSEs, in a bulletin published by my school. The advertised expedition was a 2-week trip to the north-west of Scotland which would consist of camping and hiking through the mountains surrounding Ben Nevis; some of the tallest in the UK. Of course, this was right up my street so after enjoying an action-packed two weeks in Scotland, attending the next steps event, and being awarded a John Muir award, I looked to bigger things which happened to be in the form of a 3-week expedition in the Canadian Yukon.
The prospect of this was daunting yet more than anything, exciting. But before I could go, there was a lot of preparation to be done, with one of these things being fundraising. I managed to raise a total of £3000 through clothes-selling, coffee mornings and even a GoFundMe page. This taught me perseverance, independence and it forced me to think outside the box; however it could’ve been executed better. For anyone wishing to fundraise in the future, always make sure you start early and don’t be afraid to try new things – you’d be surprised how willing the people around you are to help out.
Another part of the preparation was of course training otherwise I’m sure many people would have been ill prepared for such an undertaking. The first time everyone met each other was a weekend away at Beau Desert in Staffordshire – here we were able to get to know our separate fires and see how well we could work together in various different activities. A few months later, I participated in a longer, 5-day excursion at an outdoor centre in north Wales in which we camped out in the hills for a night just to give us a taste of outdoor life. These two events were crucial for allowing everyone to get to know one another and made the expedition itself a whole lot smoother.
Both the fundraising and training sessions helped me find confidence in meeting new people and put me outside my comfort zone, forcing me to try new things which have definitely impacted me for the better.
The expedition itself is what it all led up to.
When we were finally out in the wilderness, I truly felt in my element; no everyday distractions like mobile phones or the bustling sounds of urban life, but instead life was reduced to the simple necessities which allowed me to appreciate my surroundings far more.
I climbed mountains, canoed along the eastern edge of the mighty Lake Dezadeash, found many tracks belonging to bears, moose, wolves, lynx and countless other species, and I was able to simply explore a new environment of endless spruce and aspen forest surrounded by towering mountains which made up the tallest in North America.
One of my most fond memories would have to be the sight from the summit of Mount Barker. Mount Barker measures 2015m tall, which was one of the tallest in the area, and stands alone in its full grandeur. From the top you get an incredible view over to the impressive, 18-mile long Lake Dezadeash and a full 360 degree view of the St. Elias range, comprised of jagged scree slopes, snow-capped peaks and glaciers.
Along the way, we were taught a plethora of new things since there was such a diverse skillset amongst our leaders; we learnt different knots for mooring, how to identify different species from animal tracks and my favourite part, was being able to take endless photos.
Before my relationship with the British Exploring Society began, I had trouble putting myself out of my comfort zone which could be meeting new people or just trying new things. Since that summer expedition in 2021, my general confidence has exceeded greatly, and I now found myself far more at ease with unknown things, people or situations.
One of the reasons for this was the support and guidance that is provided by the British Exploring Society’s outstanding team of leaders. The fact that there are people willing to take time away from their own lives and dedicate so much effort into enriching young people’s lives is one of the most important things that the British Exploring society aims to achieve and both my expedition in Scotland and the Canadian Yukon were no exception.
From the training weekends to emotional support and the expedition itself, none of this would have been possible without the leaders and for that, I am ever grateful for their hard work, perseverance and sacrifices.