Top Awards for Explorers and Network

Logo of South East Scotland Scouts 2018


First published in November 2017 and updated September 2021.

Information on all the awards is available below, and on the Scouts Scotland site. You are welcome to contact the Region to discuss the best way to support individuals or groups. It is worth noting that the Mencap Gateway Award is available for people (of any age) with a learning disability and that it can be done along with DofE.

DofE Bronze

DofE Bronze award badgeDofE Bronze can be the main part of CSA Platinum, and leads on to DofE Silver.

CSA Platinum

Chief Scout's Award PlatinumThe Chief Scout’s Platinum Award leads on to CSA Diamond.

DofE Silver

DofE Silver award badgeDofE Silver can be the main part of CSA Diamond.

CSA Diamond

Chief Scouts Diamond AwardThe Chief Scout’s Diamond Award leads on to the Queen’s Scout Award.

DofE Gold

DofE Gold Award badgeDofE Gold is the highest level of DofE and can be the main part of the Queen’s Scout Award.


Queen's Scout Award badge The Queen’s Scout Award is the highest in Scouting.

Explorer Belt

Badge of the Explorer Belt award The Explorer Belt is an expedition abroad for Explorers and Network aged 16-25.


Badge of the Scouts of the World award The Scouts of the World Award is for members of Network, working individually.

Get advice on awards

Chief Scout’s Award, Queen’s Scout Award and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is complementary to the Chief Scout’s Awards and the Queen’s Scout Award, and both sets of awards fit perfectly within the Explorer Scout programme.

Scouting and DofE

The Adventure Begins: Explore and Achieve with the Scout Association and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award

The Adventure Begins

Two awards at the same time

The requirements of the two sets of awards are very similar: for example, an Explorer who completes DofE Bronze has only a few extra requirements to complete Chief Scout’s Platinum. The best explanation is given in The Adventure Begins. Many Explorers count being a Young Leader for the Volunteering section of DofE. All Explorers, including Young Leaders, are encouraged to do both DofE and the Scouting awards.  Those who do DofE at school can ask their Explorer Leader to use it towards the equivalent Scouting award.  Network members who are Leaders can count this for Volunteering or Service.


Expeditions are part of most of the Awards and there is a lot of advice available.  Much of it provided by DofE but it is relevant to any expedition. See our Expedition Information page. All expeditions must be carried out in keeping with the requirements of The Scout Association, including Activity Permits and Nights Away; for Explorers this may involve the issuing of an Event Passport.

Scouting Awards

Information about CSA and QSA for Explorers, Network, Leaders and Commissioners

Reach the Top!

The Queen’s Scout Award

Queen's Scout Award logo

The Queen’s Scout Award

Please note that you must register for QSA to start, and have a mentor in place to help you.  If you are an Explorer, your leader is likely to do this.  Those over 18 should contact their District or the Region for help.

QSA and DofE Gold

DofE Gold Award badgeQueen's Scout Award badge

It should be remembered that candidates have until they are 25 to complete DofE Gold and The Queen’s Scout Award, so they should not give up if they have not completed them when they leave Explorers.  Any Network member can do the awards.

The other Awards

The Explorer Belt – an international experience

Badge of the Explorer Belt award The Explorer Belt is not just for Explorers!  In fact it can be done by Explorers aged 16 and over, by Network members and by members of Girlguiding aged 16 and over.

The Explorer Belt is a challenge of a lifetime. It is a chance to take part in a ten day expedition that brings you a real understanding of a different country, its culture and way of life. You will develop this understanding by travelling through your chosen country, working as part of a small team to complete a series of projects and most importantly by meeting local people. It is an experience and an achievement that you will remember for the rest of your life.

For full information and to register, see Explorer Belt on Scouts UK.

SOWA – Scouts of the World Award

Just for Network!

Scouts of the World Badge SOWA is an individual award, and the project can be completed at home or abroad.  It does not require an expedition. Here is a summary of what is required:

  • Be a member of Scout Network.
  • Attend a residential weekend Scouts of the World Discovery, based on the three themes: development, environment and peace.
  • With the support of your mentor, finalise your plans for your voluntary project based on the theme from your discovery weekend.
  • Undertake Scouts of the World voluntary service, either in the UK or abroad, lasting a minimum of 80 hours, recording and evaluating your experiences in the participant handbook.
  • Undertake a presentation locally.

For full information and to register, see SOWA on Scouts UK.

Bonaly Scout Centre September Update

Bonaly Scout Centre September Update

Welcome back!

It is so good the see Scouts back camping at Bonaly following the relaxing of the Covid restrictions. If you are camping or visiting for the day why not give our new self-led “Camouflage Tracking” activity a go? Working in two teams, the first challenge is to lay a trail of tracking signs for the other group to follow into the “Hiding Area”. Then one member of the team is chosen to hide and is camouflaged by the rest of the team using the equipment provided and natural materials. The teams now follow each other’s tracking signs and attempt to find the hidden person! 

ScotJam@Bonaly was a great weekend with 120 Cubs and Scouts enjoying the sunshine and the Archery, Tomahawk Throwing, Low and High Ropes, Burn ScrambleCamouflage Tracking, and of course the Campfire.  We would like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped to make the weekend possible.

Image: Burn scrambling in the Roman Bath. 

Our maintenance ASU have been hard at work keeping the centre looking good. The Chalet refurbishment is now well underway with new carpets, beds and vanity units. We are now taking bookings from the 1st of October for the new look Chalet and dates are filling up fast! To make an inquiry you can email or use our online booking request form.

Image: The New Look Chalet

The Bonaly “Come and Have A Go Day” was very well attended and gave anyone interested in volunteering a chance to take part in some of the activities we have. Everyone had great fun enjoying the Low Ropes, Crate Stack, Burn Scramble, Pioneering skills or some of the Self-led activities we have on offer. Interested in joining our volunteer instructor team? Please get in touch by email or give us a ring on 0131 441 1878.

Image: Well done Sandy – that’s got to be a record! 

SEEE DofE Events – Borders

SEEE DofE Events – Borders

D of E has normally been completed in the Scottish Borders District through the schools but a couple of years ago we decided to get some leaders though their expedition assessors’ course and start running our own expeditions and awards.  

Then Covid happened! Our Summer 2020 expeditions were cancelled, and we didn’t know when they would take place. Move forward to Autumn 2020 and temporary changes to the rules allowed expeditions without camping. Borders District joined other districts in the Pentlands to run Bronze qualifying & Silver practice expeditions.

Spring 2021, a new cohort of Bronze from the Borders were preparing for their expedition, but new Covid restrictions prevented them attending the Pentland Hills. So, a Borders based expedition was planned around the Eildon Hills.

The weekend of the 7,8 and 9th May saw 20 Explorers from the Lauderdale and Tweedglen units unite to form 3 expedition teams. Approximately 17km each day through the rolling Borders hills.

Friday night started the weekend with a last zoom briefing and quiz, Saturday took the expedition groups in a loop north of Melrose testing their navigation skills through a mixture of farming and open ground. The weather was as much of a test as the navigation, with heavy rain, winds and cold temperatures. 

The 3 teams all made good progress and coped with the tricky navigation of parts of the first day, they finished off with cooking tea in Melrose before heading home.

Sunday promised slightly better weather and the temperatures were certainly a few degrees warmer, the teams assembled from 8:30am. Two teams started along the banks of Tweed and the third with a sharp assent of the Eildon Hills, both working in opposite directions they would pass each other at lunch time.

The weather still had its surprises with more heavy rain, but it didn’t seem to dampen the participants spirits. With teams arriving back in Melrose just before 5pm they all look tired but very proud of what they had achieved.

To my knowledge this is our first Scottish Borders based Bronze Expedition planned and run by the Borders District Scouts but it won’t be the last, a great achievement and congratulations to all the Leaders involved, here’s to the next expedition.

Andy Beaumont
District Commissioner, Borders District

Explorers in 2020

Explorers in 2020

2020 started with Explorers doing all the things they usually do, like a visit to Lochgoilhead by Wildfire, a Pentland District treasure hunt round the New Town, and a ski trip to France by Greenbank.

Wildfire Explorer Scout Unit

However, thanks to the imagination and effort put in by leaders, there has been a lot of Exploring this year, adapted to fit into the constantly changing constraints imposed by the pandemic.  Activity moved online, with Zoom providing a platform for Unit meetings and training, and this continues to form part of a hybrid model as some face-to-face Scouting becomes possible again.

As positives, we can highlight:

  • Games Where’s Wally? breakout rooms and many more
  • Training for Young Leaders and for expeditions
  • Investitures done online
  • Top Awards modified to fit the circumstances
  • Young Leaders assisting their sections
  • Involvement of young people to provide ideas and run online sessions
  • Expeditions for 59 Explorers in the Pentlands and a group preparing for Silver and Gold canoeing
  • New Units including Longcraig ESU
  • Moving on from Scouts to Explorers, including completion of CSA Gold
  • Network and adult roles encouraged, with input from Explorers

Above all, however, we should highlight the fact that there are still a lot of Explorers actively involved, and this is down to the commitment and effort of many leaders and young people.  Many thanks to all, and let’s hope that the report on 2021 will be much more normal.


John Buchanan
Assistant Regional Commissioner (Explorers)

Young Leader Training During COVID

Young Leader Training During COVID

During the Covid pandemic there have been many challenges to continuing Young Leader (YL) training – it’s not possible to hold face 2 face meetings as normal; leaders have been under additional personal demands/pressures and don’t have the same time available; in larger geographic districts it’s not practical to travel longer distances for District training, Explorers have been locked down at home.

There have been a couple of very creative approaches in Braid/Pentland and Craigalmond to continue to support a Top Award and valuable leadership skills training for Explorers, which are outlined below. Given the ongoing uncertainty around how Scouting can take place, it is important that we continue to offer the best possible experience to all our young people, including Young Leaders and the sections they support. The key to delivering YL training has to be flexibility, using online technology to supplement or replace traditional f2f sessions while providing as much interaction as possible – for instance, by using older YLs to lead breakout sessions.  It could be that we end up with better methods of delivery than before!  Grateful thanks are due to all those who have managed to keep YL training going.  Leaders from other Districts are welcome to get in touch with John Buchanan to discuss YL training:

    1. Craigalmond – Using Zoom and Explorers who have completed their YL Belt training to facilitate online workshops
        • With the start of the lockdown in March the Craigalmond YL team wanted to help the 100 Young Leaders in the District to progress with their Modules when much of their normal activities and Scouting was impacted, with online training via Zoom as our preferred option, but with the challenge of keeping as many of the positives of face-face training where Young Leaders from different Units work together in teams on practical groupwork, and there is the opportunity for discussion, Q&A and feedback throughout the session.
        • After a pilot Zoom session, the detailed feedback from Young Leaders was very positive, with 87% agreeing it was as effective as previous training, 93% that the group exercises worked, 99% that the trainer provided the right amount of support during the session, and 87% felt more confident understanding their section.
        • Based on this, a total of 5 weekly sessions ran in June/July, with an average of 20 Young Leaders attending each session, with 97 Modules completed in all.  A majority (38%) preferred the Zoom-based training which surprised us, with 29% favouring the usual face-face training, and the remainder with no strong preference.
        • While we could have simply used the original training course, there are three things put in place to encourage interactivity and engagement even though we weren’t all meeting face-face:
          • Reduce sessions to 1 ¼ hours maximum – as it is difficult concentrate online for as long as a face-face session
          • Send out information and exercises before the session that can be completed individually beforehand and capture the inputs for the session on Google forms so we could focus on interactive activities during the Zoom session.
          • Ask five of our most experienced Young Leaders to facilitate Breakout sessions where the newer Young Leaders could work in small groups of 5 on exercises and examples with their input and guidance
        • From this experience, when we return to face-face training there are improvements we can make based on our experience:
          • Continue to involve our most experienced Young Leaders in peer-led training- they have a lot of great experience, and can relate this effectively to the Young Leaders, as well as sharing ideas and tips on completing missions with their sections.
          • There are some parts of the training where Zoom provides a better and more convenient forum – and we will aim to use it alongside face-face training.
          • We’ll provide some training and exercises for Young Leaders to complete individually at a time when it’s convenient and they can easily access tools and information online, rather than use time during face-face sessions.
          • Pentland and Braid’s use of OSM looks promising as it can be difficult to support Young Leaders progressing with their missions given they volunteer with many different Sections across the District and may not be in regular face-face contact with the leaders who support them.
        • And finally, a very big thank you to our most experienced Young Leaders Niamh, James, Angus, Rory, Calum, Sandy and Callum who volunteered to help, for their enthusiasm, energy and help in running the Breakout rooms.

     2. The Braid and Pentland Young Leader Website

    • In April 2020, the Braid District Young Leader Team alongside the Pentland District Young Leader Team started the project of putting Young Leaders online. This project was driven through consultation with Young Leaders from both districts, which provided us with the purpose of providing information on how Young Leaders can achieve their Modules at home and work towards their Missions in the background of their time being a Young Leader. The website can be found here at 
    • The Team of 5 Leaders working together with a shared objective, with all Leaders fulfilling different roles from web-development to module writing. In August 2020, the Team received feedback from Scouts UK which resulted in an official endorsement which can be seen on the Scouts UK website. Over the last 6 months which the website has been active, the website has generated over 3000 visits from all over the UK which has been a fantastic achievement for the Team.
    • The purpose of this project was to enable all Young Leaders to continue their development in their own time, by ensuring that all activities can be achieved via working with a household member or themselves. Through utilising the system of Online Scout Manager, the team offered the submission of modules and missions via the badges at home section which allowed Young Leaders to submit their evidence and ask questions, whilst having the opportunity to receive feedback which was complying with all safeguarding requirements.
    • Both Braid and Pentland Districts have received great feedback from all users across the UK, however, most importantly both districts have received an increase in Young Leaders participating in their modules and mission developments.
    • Due to the demand from both districts’ Young Leaders, in September 2020 training restarted as another method of offering Young Leader Training via Zoom which is held twice a month at full capacity.
    • Please see below for testaments from Explorers, who have provided us feedback:

    Arran (Explorer Young Leader) “I personally found the website easy to use and navigate round, to be honest it took a while to change to working through young leader stuff on a solo arrangement, but once I started, I got through easily enough!”

    Rory (Explorer Young Leader) “I really enjoy participating in the modules online, I find them helpful and informative as I go through them!”

    Sam (Explorer Young Leader) “The website is a very quick and easy way of completing the modules and working towards the missions. You gain so many valuable skills that can not only be used as a Young Leader, but in life!”

    Chris (Explorer Young Leader) “I am a new Explorer Young Leader and through the website, I was able to complete four modules during the summer months which kept me busy. The website is good as it means you are not waiting for the module to be offered, so means you can get on with your training!”

    Encouraging Moving on From Scouts to Explorers

    Links Between Scout Troop & Explorer Scout Unit


    The aim is for all Scouts to become Explorer Scouts. The Scout Leader (SL) and Explorer Scout Leader (ESL) will, with the support of the Group Scout Leader (GSL) and District Explorer Scout Commissioner (DESC), or their representatives, ensure that effective transfer of Members takes place in a timely manner.

    Every year the SL will provide details of Scouts aged 13 and over to the ESL and to the District Explorer Scout Administrator (DESA).

    Encouraging Moving on From Scouts to Explorers – An Important Update


    Recent surveys and discussions with Explorers at District and Regional level have given a good insight into the transition process. The dropout level between Scouts and Explorers is much higher than between the younger Sections. The SL and ESL should consider the following and develop co-ordinated programmes and communication relevant to their members to increase retention:

    Factors preventing Scouts from moving on to Explorers:

    • Lack of information about Explorers.
    • Fear of the unknown – moving out of their comfort zone.
    • Moving on is not promoted by Scout Leaders.
    • Scouts leave before completing their time there (14) because:
      • They have nothing to look forward to (lack of information).
      • There is no special consideration given to the older group in Scouts.
      • The programme is repeating for the benefit of the younger group.
      • They feel disengaged.
      • Their own cohort leaves or ages out.
      • They do not know enough people outside their own troop.

    What might help
    Scouts meet Explorers on a number of occasions, including information sessions.

    • Scouts meet Explorers on a number of occasions, including information sessions
      • The people making contact should be engaging and passionate about Explorers.
    • There are joint events involving older Scouts and Explorers:
      • Taster sessions.
      • Explorer participation in District (Scout) camps.
      • Ensure that older Scouts keep in touch with friends who have moved up.
      • Scouts know people who have joined Explorers.
      • Scouts know who else will be joining – “The more people you know the more likely you will join.”

    What the ESL, SL and Explorer Scout Leader – Young Leaders (ESL-YL) can do:

    • Leaders should celebrate moving on.
    • Scout leaders should not regard this as ‘losing their Scouts’.
    • Scout leaders should engage fully with District and local Explorer Unit(s).
    • Scout and Explorer Scout Leaders should plan their programmes actively to promote transition.
    • Leaders should encourage ESYLs on placement at the Scout Troop to talk about Explorers and possibly “buddy up” with Scouts during their early weeks in Explorers.
    • All leaders should know about the Chief Scout’s Award and include it in the programme.
    • Scout Leaders should inform Scouts that they can complete the Chief Scout’s Gold Award in Explorers, and Explorer Leaders should know and support this.

    Specific recommendations

    • Scouts are more likely to transfer if they move with their friends and those in the same school cohort/year (typically S2), so we should do everything possible to inform and encourage the cohort to consider transitioning together, rather than basing it on specific age.  There is flexibility and this should be discussed well in advance by the SL and ESL.
    • Don’t delay transfer to allow completion of the CSA Gold Award – this can and should be completed in Explorers and allows them to start Explorers as part of their school cohort [in their S2 year].
    • Make sure Scouts are aware there are Top Awards in Explorers and that the ones relevant for them as new Explorers are the DofE Bronze Award, the linked Platinum Award, and the Young Leader’s Training Scheme.
    • DofE Bronze and the YL Training Scheme are very popular with Explorer Scouts and their parents and usually seen as important opportunities to gain Skills for Life and evidence them in personal statements and applications for college, jobs etc.  We should, therefore, promote these and encourage them to register at the point they transfer, and have support to allow them to get started and engaged with Explorers quickly.

      Include parents in this communication so they are aware of these opportunities. They have an important role to support/encourage younger Explorer Scout to increase their skills in these more self-directed Awards. This has also proven an excellent means to recruit parents as additional adult volunteers.

    • Consider opportunities to provide a taste of Explorer Scouts and to continue and build on achievements in the Scout section, such as:
      • Blair Atholl satellite camp
      • Zodiac Award
      • Activity badges that span the sections – First Aid, Water Activities, Camping