Explorers are 20!

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This is the 20th anniversary year of the creation of the Explorer section.  Explorer Scouts (14-18) are at an incredibly dynamic phase of their lives, and we are fortunate to have so many leaders across our Region who have the energy and skills to provide the stimulation required to cater for their needs.   

Explorer Units do meet in their halls, but more often they are out and about, whether for traditional adventurous activities, games like ‘Where’s Wally’, or an informal ‘Chippy Challenge’.   They do lots of exciting things together.  Here are some of them.

Explorer Belt in Iceland

Camps, expeditions, activities of all sorts, including hikes like the West Highland Way, climbing, watersports, cycling … 

Blair Atholl Jamborette, World Scout Jamboree, Explorer Belt, trips to Europe, Africa and Asia 

DofE, Chief Scout’s and Queen’s Scout, Young Leader Belt.

Fund raising, sleepouts, litter picking, environmental projects, First Aid training, Remembrance Day … 

Helping the younger sections, doing training modules and missions on the way 

Parties, rowdy games, ceilidhs, campfires, challenges … 

What Explorers have to say:

Wildfire ESU (Balerno) asked their Explorers: “How has being an Explorer shaped your life?”  Their comments were very positive: ‘people’ and ‘skills’ featured strongly, as did ‘new’ and ‘fun’.  

New things:

New friends: those I would not have met, and those now at different schools who I can keep in touch with 

New skills: knots, navigation, using an axe, teamwork, leadership … 

New activities: canoe, kayak, expeditions, hikes, lots of camps … 

New role: Young Leader 


A fun way to learn new skills and take part in fun activities 

Overnight hikes gave me a really fun experience  

An outlet to relax and enjoy myself every week 

A few general comments:

Not only has Explorers enabled me to travel over the world but also to prepare me for life with social skills!  

I have met so many new people who are now some of my best friends, they have taught me a lot. Explorers has taught me not only personal skills like confidence and determination but also physical skills like knot tying and canoe riding

It allows me to hang out with my older brother without him being embarrassed by me.  

See what Explorers get up to!

Images included camps, canoeing, ceilidh, charity sleepout, climbing, Explorer belt in Iceland, First aid, investitures, kayaks, Lochgoilhead, map reading, pioneering, QSA, wet hike, wild camping, winter fun and Young leader Cubs class!

Reflecting on their summer camp, they said: 

What I enjoyed at camp 

  • Singing around the campfire 
  • Talking to people I wouldn’t normally talk to 
  • Dancing to music with friends 
  • Stargazing at night and seeing a shooting star 
  • Messing around in the river 
  • Lochy’s dramatic readings at the campfires 
  • Seeing a peregrine falcon was cool 
  • Learning to build a rope bridge was epic 
  • Being given more responsibility and trust by the leaders 
  • Freedom, and getting to choose what to do 

What I learned at camp 

  • How to chop wood 
  • How to tie a square lashing 
  • How to light a fire 
  • To eat what I was given 
  • Lots of new card games 
  • Lots of new camp songs 
  • Confidence in starting campfire songs 
  • How to coordinate in a team when making meals 
  • How to empty a canoe full of water 
  • Irn Bru chicken doesn’t taste that good 

Currently on offer

Apart from the ‘normal’ local programme, the following are live projects right now for SE Scotland Region Explorers:


Some readers may be surprised to see that a lot of these are the same things that they enjoyed, but, actually, young people are much the same now as they have always been – we just live in a different world.  The challenge for us, as adults in Scouting, is to create the environment where they can learn, develop and make friends while having fun.  That depends on leaders.   

Here are some comments from leaders who were asked: “How has being a leader in Explorers shaped your life?” 

  • Keeps my mind busy, gets me outside, gives an expectation to learn and share skills.  Explorers and Scouting are a big part of my whole family’s life. 
  • It has provided an outlet for creativity and organisation, has brought me into contact with lots of young people, has provided a reason to upskill in outdoor activities and has been an enormous amount of fun. 
  • I have done many things that I simply would not have done if not an Explorer Leader. I have enjoyed tramping the Pentland Hills in the middle of the night, rolling kayaks in the local swimming pool, and summer camps. It keeps me active both physically and mentally and engaged with the younger generation. 
  • I’m pretty new as a leader in Explorers, though Cub leader for a number of years.  For me, though, it is about giving teenagers opportunities to do new things in a safe environment, and to form great bonds with others forged through those experiences.  The values of scouting are also those that will stand in good stead throughout life and in that sense as a leader we can have a lifelong positive impact on Explorers. 

Explorer leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and from a wide range of backgrounds.  Some are new to Scouting, some are parents, many have already been leaders with younger sections.  Could you offer some time to help with an Explorer Unit?  It could be as a leader or helper, but also as a skills instructor, DofE leader or administrator.  If at all interested, get in touch with your local Unit, or contact me directly. 

John Buchanan  explorers@sesscouts.org.uk