The Explorer Belt is an award in many Scouting organisations which promotes adventure and self-reliance in an international context.
While specific rules on the award vary from one organisation to another, it is generally for older members of the Scout Movement and requires a group of Scouts to travel and conduct a set of projects through which they investigate the history, geography, and society of a foreign country.
Explorer Belt in Various Countries
Within the Verband Christlicher Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinder the Explorerbelt Expedition is open to members from 17 to 24 years of age.
Prior to the expedition there are two weekend-meetings for planning and preparation. Each group/team consists of two people. Teams have to prepare a presentation, dealing with a subject in the country visited (cultural, historical, social...).
On the expedition participants travel the foreign country in the teams for 14 days, dealing with their subject. Afterwards there is a camp of one week, together with all participants and instructors.
The belts are awarded in a ceremony during the final meeting, after the expedition, usually a weekend.
The award is open to members of the senior section of Scouting, and candidates work in pairs.
As the pair travel over 200 km during the 10 day expedition, they maintain a diary and conduct between 10 and 18 projects.
The expedition pairs are required to make presentations of their projects and experiences before being awarded the belt.
Pairs of Rover Scouts are dropped off at an undisclosed location and are required over the course of ten days to return to basecamp. Participants must walk which a minimum distance of 200 km, but have the option of completing an extra 100 km by public transport. The expedition is open to Rover Scouts aged between 18 and 21.
The teams must complete a daily log as well as personal and group projects to an acceptable standard while living on a limited budget. The projects cover topics relevant to local life and culture, and are developed with the intention of having the teams interact with locals while learning about the history, culture and life of the region.
The teams must also carry all equipment needed to complete the expedition. Rucksacks can often weigh in the range 12 to 22 kilogrammes. This equipment can include tentage, sleeping gear, clothes, cooking equipment, first aid equipment, fuel, water, stationary, and whatever food has been purchased from the budget.
On reaching basecamp, the teams are given time to recover during which an assessment team read through the expedition logs and projects. They also examine whether the minimum distance of 200 km has been completed. Following the assessment phase, Rover Scouts deemed to have met the conditions of the award are presented with the Explorer Belt at a ceremony held at the end of the expedition. Traditionally, those who have received the belt do not wear it until after they have returned home to Ireland. In 1983 (Wales) those who received the belt wore it.
In 2007 the Explorer Belt took place in Poland.
The 3 week expedition is open to senior scouts from 16 to 20 years old.
The main part is walking in pair over at least 160 km during 10 days. They shall then maintain a diary and conduct a number of small projects that promote contact with local people. After the 10 day walk all the pairs gather for other activities, including meeting local scouts.
The Swedish expedition has been held since at least 1963, always in different parts of Europe.
Groups can have up to 4 members, although guidelines state that only older candidates should work in a pair.
In order to achieve the award, the group must spend 10 days in a foreign country and work towards a major project of their choice. They are also asked to complete a further 10 smaller projects - some of their own choice, and some set by the award judges. During this time they must cover 100 miles (~160 km), usually hopping between small villages.
The group must complete all plans and organisation for the expedition, and are also asked to take part in a debrief and then provide a presentation.
They do not need to walk during the expedition (alternatives are horse riding, cycling or canoeing), and may use public transport for up to 15% of the total distance travelled. Since the focus is on learning about the country the candidates are visiting, only an average of a few hours of travelling is required per day.
Czech Republic, Slovakia
- six international groups of five Rover Scouts