When I was growing up, my mother sent me to all sorts of places from an early age (1st poney camp at 6 yo in Burgundy .. and a linguistic camp in rural England at 7 years old!). While some experiences were a bit tough, they were all very formative and I am grateful because 1/ she was working long hours, solo parenting 3 children and needed to keep me busy during holidays and 2/ it did plant a seed in me. I wish she knew about the brilliant British Exploring Society in my teenager years.
The British Exploring Society
The British Exploring Society (BES) has been taking young people to remote locations for nearly 100 years. Its mission is to empower 14-25 year olds, and equip them with courage, skills, resilience and determination. Those who apply need to make a personal commitment through fundraising and / or volunteering. It’s a powerful way to expose teenagers to self-discovery and sustainability in wilderness environments.
The expeditions are made of small groups of 10 explorers who strike out from a base camp and do wild camping in remote locations. BES is a charity-based organization and expedition leaders are all passionate volunteers . The teams do scientific field work (with Chief Scientists) and creative projects (with Media Leaders) while making a commitment to sustainability.
What an incredible list of alumni: Roald Dahl was only 17 when he ventured on; Marvin Rees, the first ever mayor of Afro-Caribbean descent of a European city went to Svalbard – like Alex Gregory, who became a 2x Gold Olympic medallist and 7x Guinness Record holder – and Shirin Gerami who after a BES expedition became Iran’s 1st female triathlete. All together, BES has taken 11,000 young people on expeditions since it was founded in 1932.
The Canadian Yukon – going since 1948
Starting out from Whitehorse in the Yukon, the teams climb peaks, trek, paddle, enjoy rich flora and fauna, track moose, elk and caribou, and camp beside the river bank for 3 to 5 weeks. If they’re lucky, they might even see the Northern Lights. I want to be 20 again!!
Indian Himalayas – going since 1988
High-altitude trekking, visiting isolated and unnamed peaks starting out from Ladakh with a basecamp in the Zara Valley. The explorers study and live for 5 weeks in an area rich in wild flower meadows and rare wildlife including snow leopards, Tibetan antelope and herds of yak. I want to be 20 again!!
Peruvian Amazon – going since 2002
They experience the biodiversity of the Amazon starting out near the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. The explorers might survey wild monkeys, birds, snakes, butterflies and a huge array of reptiles. The expedition also undertakes sustainable community projects working with the San Martin community. I want to be 20 again!!
Ps: I can’t wait for Marcelo (and Amalya and Lior!) to turn 16 and wave them good bye as they set off on one of those incredible adventures. Did I really say that?!
Ps: If you happen to be free and in London tomorrow, this event is quite exciting.
I have been researching interesting holiday camp ideas for children and teenagers. Check out the tab Going Solo for regular updates.
All photos courtesy of British Exploring Society