Explorers have been involved in all manner of activities with their Units and Districts, often well beyond the confines of their hall, with the assistance of their excellent and committed leaders.  At a Regional level, interest in international Scouting continues to be high: a full contingent attended WSJ 2019; 27 will be attending ESJ 2020 in Poland; recruitment is under way for Blair Atholl 2020. 

Cooperation across Districts has been encouraged: a Regional Camp in September 2018; a number of joint projects on ESYL training and DofE; assisting with events like Holocaust Memorial Day in the Scottish Parliament (see photo) and the Walk for Autism.  The Explorers themselves always appreciate the chance to meet and share experiences with others and do so with great enthusiasm.

Almost half of our Explorers are ESYLs and this is widely recognised as a key part of Scouting, offering training and skills which help young people develop into responsible adults.  Most ESYLs find the experience extremely rewarding and the younger sections benefit hugely from their presence. The revised training programme is bedding in, and, as so often, the key is to involve many adults to share the tasks.  The Region has supported the introduction of the new Logbook which should now be being used by all ESYLs, and a scheme to ensure that all ESYLs can complete the important First Aid module.  It is also hoped to involve interested Explorers at Bonaly in a role similar to that of ESYL, following a pilot a couple of years ago.

We have a very encouraging number of candidates and have developed an effective model for expedition training and cooperation between Districts.  The key is working together and involving a range of people, rather than leaving one person to try to cover the significant amount of work required. 

Success here is linked to the improved support being given to help leaders acquire the permits required for the delivery of the Expedition section – T1, T2 and Nights Away.  DofE is the ideal way for Explorers to work systematically towards the Chief Scout’s Platinum and Diamond Awards and the prestigious Queen’s Scout Award. Initiatives are under way to encourage and support Explorers and young Adult Leaders to achieve these, particularly as they have until the age of 25 to do so.

And finally, three very different groups of Explorers from five Units in Braid and Craigalmond plus two Explorers from other Regions completed very successful Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions in September 2019.  All the groups enjoyed the experience of getting to know new people and they all worked together extremely well. They appreciated the extended periods of conversation that replaced their phones and, perhaps as a result, one group took to identifying themselves and the leaders by names of characters from Lord of the Rings.  These Explorers did not just go through the motions but showed real commitment, supporting each other through the difficult bits and relishing the rewards – relaxing in the glorious sunshine over a long lunch or staring at the spectacular, starry skies.  By bringing young people and adults from different areas together to achieve this, these expeditions demonstrated the power of Scouting.

John Buchanan
ARC Explorer Scouts