Setting Goals

By Sam Drawbridge,
Membership Officer

Setting goals is good a way to measure our own progression and development while striving to improve ourselves or learn. Goal setting is an essential part of any British Exploring Society expedition.

Two of our Members have generously agreed to write about their experiences and thoughts on goal setting: Jennie, a Chief Leader who has led on numerous expeditions with us, and Caleb, a Young Explorer on our inaugural UK Explorers expedition to the Scottish Highlands in Spring 2019.


How Leaders help support and deliver goal setting

Learn more about how our Leaders approach goal-setting with Young Explorers, from one of our Chief Leaders. Jennie has led on numerous expeditions with us in the past and has a wealth of experience, which she has drawn on below to explain how British Exploring Society Leaders work with Young Explorers on this topic.

Jennie (middle) having a conversation with two Young Explorers on our UK Explorers 2019 expedition.


“While we visit inspiring locations, embark on journeys and set challenges, the overriding aim of the expedition is to use all these experiences to create a valuable personal development experience. There is no ‘one size fits all’ set of actions for how British Exploring Society Leaders support individual goals and development in the team as all Leaders often have differing approaches, and more importantly Young Explorers turn up in very different places in terms of knowing what their aims and goal are. Some people may turn up with some strong ideas about what they hope to gain from or change during the experience. For others, just getting to the expedition was a big challenge and everything else a bonus.

An important factor for all Leaders is getting to know their team, their comfort levels, fears, strengths and skills and use that to encourage individuals to use existing skills to develop leadership within the team or try out new roles and expand their comfort zone. The aim is to build trust within the team so that everyone feels they can try, and that it is ok if it does not go quite to plan.

On a more pragmatic theme, Leaders have a variety of tools at their fingertips to help facilitate development and goal setting, but all will use the British Exploring Society compass – a tool which has been developed to enable participants to look at where they are with different life skills, and set specific goals in order to develop. This will be examined at various points; pre expedition, early in the expedition, midway, at the end and a short while after returning home.

Leaders have 1:1 chats with Explorers to help develop their goals and check in with how they are feeling. Early on in the process goals may be more linked to skills to practice and develop in the coming phase of the expedition but towards the end and post expedition reviews Leaders try to encourage their team to think about how they can use their new found confidence and skills in other areas of their life.

The Next Steps event is a fantastic time for teams to be reunited and from my point of view it is heart-warming to hear what everyone has been up to and how the expedition experience has influences their choices, actions or confidence. The practical skills from expedition and the confidence gained can be a real catalyst to changing a young person’s life, but equally important is the ability to look at yourself, your potential and then being proactive in making good stuff happen.

It may be that returning from expedition you know someone who is in a position to continue to help you with that development. Keep your diary, your compass and remember any words that you found helpful. Refer back to them a year, two years 20 years later, see how much has changed and ask yourself if you were to set yourself a or specific goals for the next month what would they be. This summer most of us are at home, likely to have had our plans cancelled, so this is a great time to set yourself future goals so you can make the best of the months to come.”


Setting goals after expedition

Below, Caleb writes about the shared goal he and his friends set themselves, and what led them to strive towards it.

Caleb (Left) and Alex (Middle) on UK Explorers last year, sharing a joke with Nando (right), one of our Leaders on the expedition.

“About a year ago, I was on a bus journey with two mates from my school, and we were just talking about the South Downs Way when one of us suggested: “Why don’t we try and hike it together?” It’s a trail about 100 miles long, from Winchester to Eastbourne along the beautiful South Coast, which we thought would be brilliant for a Year 11 summer holiday project! Due to coronavirus and all that, we’ve decided to use hammocks instead of sharing a tent, but we’re all really looking forward to it – it’s been a goal of ours for nearly a year now.

My love of exploring really exploded after I went on the inaugural “UK Explorers” expedition in the Scottish Highlands in 2019, which quite literally changed my life through meeting some incredible new people (some of whom I’m still in contact with), the stunning surroundings, and just having my eyes opened to a whole new world outside – how we can better explore and protect it too.

One of the guys I’m walking the trail with, Alex, also came on that trip, and because of that we both feel much more confident now when setting achievable goals for our group to get – be it how many miles we do in a day or the food, drink and packing arrangements.

We were motivated to set this goal because all three of us love being in the great outdoors, and seeing more of what even just our own country has been blessed with.

As for how we set our goals; it was about taking our time over decisions, all of us chipping in with our own areas of expertise, and checking things with parents (who do, it turns out, know what they’re doing!) to enable us to get the most out of this experience.”

Caleb, a friend & Alex (left to right), during their hike along the South Downs way.