Explorer Scouts (The Scout Association)

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Explorer Scouts
Explorer Scouts Logo (The Scout Association).svg
OwnerThe Scout Association
Age range14–18
CountryUnited Kingdom
FoundedFebruary 2002[1]
Membership43,043 young people (2014)[2]
Sea Scouts
Air Scouts
Scout Network
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Explorer Scouts from Northern Ireland at the 21st World Scout Jamboree in 2007, wearing either activity shorts or the Irish saffron kilt.

Explorer Scouts (shortened to Explorers), a section of the Scout Association in the United Kingdom for 14- to 18-year-olds, was introduced in 2001 replacing Venture Scouts (which was for 15.5- to 20-year-olds). This was part of a greater change in programme, including the introduction of Scout Network for 18- to 25-year-olds. The aim of the section is to provide a flexible and active Scouting programme for adolescents and young adults, with an emphasis on personal challenge and adventure.

The Explorer Scout section follows on from the Scout section, and is in turn followed by Scout Network. Explorer Scouts meet as Units, and are organised and run at the District level. However, Explorer Scouts are expected to participate in "linking" activities with local Scout Groups. The section also runs a Young Leader programme which provides support for the junior sections.

Explorer Scouts are able to attain the Queen's Scout Award, which is the highest Scouting Award in The Scout Association. There are also a number of activity and skill badges which can be awarded to the young people upon meeting requirements in a variety of disciplines from horse-riding to first aid.


Explorer Scouts fall under the control of the Scout District, while Venture Scouts were part of a Scout Group.[3] However, Explorer Scout Units (ESUs) can have formal partnership agreements with local Scout Groups. The most common partnership agreement is the use of a Scout Group's Hut or Hall for meetings, while more involved agreements, such as giving access to equipment and providing help for events and activities, can also be undertaken.[4]

Districts are able to have as many Explorer Scout Units as they see fit. Explorer Scout membership is flexible within districts, allowing members of one unit to participate in the programme of any other within the district. In some instances, this flexibility extends to neighbouring Districts.

While the majority of units meet regularly to provide the core Scouting programme, districts can create specialised units. The programme and purpose of these additional units vary to meet specific requirements. For example, a climbing activity unit can be created which provides climbing activity leaders and arranges for visits to indoor and outdoor climbing venues. Another specialised unit is the Young Leaders Unit. The implementation of the Young Leaders Unit varies from district to district, with some acting like a normal unit which also provides the Young Leader training, while others meet less frequently.

A number of units continue the Sea and Air Scouting programmes. Members of these units are known as Sea or Air Explorers.

Ideally, each unit will have an Explorer Scout Leader (ESL), and a number of Assistants and/or Helpers.[5] Membership varies greatly, but the average is between 10 and 20 members in the main units. Specialised units have much more variation in membership due to the nature of their programmes.

The units within a district are managed by a District Explorer Scout Commissioner (DESC), who reports to the District Commissioner and is supported by the Assistant County Commissioner (Explorer Scouts) and District Explorer Scout Leaders (DESL). The DESC is also supported by a District Explorer Scout Administrator (DESA), whose primary function is to keep track of Scouts who are nearing the age of admission to Explorer Scouts, and also once they have joined the section.

All members and leaders of Explorer Scouting undertake the Scout Promise when joining the unit, and renew it on St George's Day and when other new members come in. Explorer Scouts and Explorer Scout Leaders are expected to observe the Scout Law

Young Leaders[edit]

Young Leaders are Explorer Scouts who choose to provide leadership in Beaver Scout Colonies, Cub Scout Packs or Scout Troops alongside the adult leadership team. Young Leaders have a training programme similar to that of adult leaders and consisting of eleven modules. The Young Leaders Badge is awarded upon the completion of module A and once training is completed, they can receive the Young Leader's belt buckle. There are also extra modular badges that go around the main Young Leader badge.


Explorer Scout Membership Award[edit]

The Membership Award is only actually received by young people new to Scouting, whereas those Explorer Scouts who have joined from a Scout Troop will undertake the Moving-On Award.[6]

However, the Awards cover the same basic principles, and Units may have all new Explorers participate in the Membership Award, regardless of how they came to join the Unit.

Progressive Awards[edit]

Explorer Scouts continue the Scouting programme of Progressive Awards. The requirements of each stage become more challenging, reflecting the age and abilities of the young people undertaking the Awards.

The three stages of the Awards open to Explorer Scouts are (in ascending order):

Chief Scout Platinum Award (Explorer Scouts or Scout Network)
Chief Scout Diamond Award (Explorer Scouts or Scout Network)
Queen's Scout Award (Explorer Scouts or Scout Network)

Each level requires that Explorers demonstrate community, faith, self-motivation, personal discipline, and many other qualities.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award works alongside the Scout Awards, and completion of certain sections of either Award can contribute to the other.

Explorer Belt[edit]

The Explorer Belt Award

The Explorer Belt is a long-standing award for Scouts which has now been adapted for the new programme.[10]

It is open to all members of Scouting between the ages of 16-25, and is aimed at promoting self-reliance, teamwork, and adventurous spirit.

The Explorer Belt requires participants to undertake a 10-day expedition in a foreign country, devoting some time to travelling around and exploring. Participants also have to undertake a major project of their own choosing, along with a number of smaller projects or challenges — some of which are not revealed to them until the start of the expedition.

Events and Activities[edit]

World Scout Jamboree[edit]

Explorer Scouts were eligible for participation in the World Scout Jamboree 2007 - the largest gathering of Scouts from around the world, and the largest Scout gathering in the UK since 1957.

Epping Forest Scout Conservation Project[edit]

The Epping Forest Scout Conservation Project was set up in 1989 to provide Venture Scouts, now Explorer Scouts a residential experience focused on conservation, working with environmental experts to give hands on training in forestry conservation techniques. Project, as the event is affectionately known, is held in Epping Forest and is run by a national Scout Active Support unit – and so Explorer Scouts do not have to come with their leaders or their unit: they can come on their own or with a small group of Explorer friends. As Explorers attend without their leaders, Project is ideal to fulfil the requirements of the residential section of their Queen’s Scout or Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards. The next event is due to take place between Saturday 17th and Saturday 24 August 2014.[11]

Sun Run and Malvern Challenge[edit]

The Sun Run and Malvern Challenge were two weekend events for Scouts and Explorer Scouts in the United Kingdom held every year in July.[12] Over 5000 Young People camped in a field in Gloucestershire and take part in differing hikes. The Sun Run weekend started with a party on the Friday night, usually including a DJ and some cover bands. The main event, a 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) night hike (a full marathon) through the surrounding hillsides, starts with participants watching the sun set. The aim is to complete the route, arriving in time to watch the sunrise. There is also a half marathon race (21.0975-kilometre (13.1094 mi)) hike called the Moon Run. The Malvern Challenge followed a similar format but with a shorter hike of about 8 miles (13 km) with activities spaced along the route. These include Climbing, Shooting, Assault Course, and other such bases. The Sun Run and Malvern Challenge with over 5000 young people and 2000 Adults is the United Kingdom's largest annual Scouting event. After the 2014 Sun Run and Malvern Challenge, the two events have now come to an end, due to the campsite's location being sold by the owner, the field is now going to be built on.[citation needed]

Gilwell 24[edit]

This annual event takes place at the home of UK Scouting, Gilwell Park campsite. It comprises a set of activities and challenges over a 24-hour period. In 2012, over 3500 Explorer Scouts and Senior Section Guides took part in Gilwell 24. Gilwell 24 2013 has taken place from 12 to 14 July. One of the activities is the Gilwell Gauntlet, a series of challenges that takes place from 3AM, as teams from different explorer groups compete to win points by completing activities, such as Identifying song titles, logic puzzles and physical tasks.[citation needed] Bear Grylls was invested as Chief Scout at the 2009 Gilwell 24.

Apex Challenge[edit]

Apex Challenge events are amongst the toughest of all adventure competitions in the UK.[13] The team from South Yorkshire Scout County run two National events every year. Each one attracts around 400 Explorer Scouts and members of the Scout Network. There are dozens of adventurous activities on offer including rock climbing, assault courses, canoeing and off-road driving challenges. The most recent activities, taking place at Bramham Park in West Yorkshire, and the Longshaw Estate in the Peak District each attracted nearly 400 Explorer Scouts and Leaders. The next event is due to take place at Dunwich Beach in April 2020.


777 was first run on 7 and 8 July 2007 - hence the name 777. The course started at the Scottish border above Kielder and involved mainly cycling of about 100 km over two days, with an overnight stop at Dilston Scout camp in Corbridge Northumberland along the east coast ending at Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear. However along the way the participants partook in different activities including shooting, running, swimming, archery and team activities.[14] The original event was won by a team from Allendale Explorers. The event was repeated the next year, named 5678 once again due to the dates - 5 and 6 July 2008, with the route starting this time in Bamburgh, Northumberland and along the east coast ending again at Tynemouth. The event was run again in 2009 and also is planned to take place in October 2010.

National Scout Air Rifles Competition[edit]

There is an air rifle competition at Bisley, Surrey every October.

This event is growing in popularity, with many categories for Scouts aged 12 and up.

High scoring competitors are invited to join the National Scout Rifle Squad, which has supplied members of the British Olympic, Commonwealth, and World Championship teams in the past.[15]

Dragnet Challenge[edit]

The Dragnet Challenge takes place on the first full weekend of July each year and is to make your way through a narrow corridor of land in the Cumbrian Lake district covering a distance of around 35 miles (56 km). Teams of four have to navigate from Friday night until Sunday morning back to the defined base camp from the secret drop off point. On the way you must avoid capture from teams of experienced catchers who can take one of three life cards which will reduce your chance of winning the competition. The winning teams must have the maximum number of lives and run into the base camp closest to 11am on the Sunday.[16]

High Adventure[edit]

High Adventure is an event run by the Leicestershire Scout County in March of each year. The location of the event is kept secret until the Explorers arrive at base camp on Friday evening. Recent events have been in the Brecon Beacons and mid Wales. Saturday is an orienteering event based on the hills. A number of manned check points are in place. Groups then spend a night at a wild camp before getting up on Sunday to take part in various challenges and activities on the way back to base camp. The group with the highest score wins, with another award being given to the team that has shown the best skills, or just enjoyed the event the most. In the 1990s the event attracted approx 40 groups of Venture Scouts from across the country. After being restarted in 2009, it has attracted between 20 and 25 groups from Leicestershire.[17]

Other activities[edit]

Explorer Scouts climbing at Stanage Edge, Yorkshire

The Explorer Scout Programme includes many other activities, including:

Many Explorer Scouts can become quite proficient in their chosen activities, and many attain instructor's qualifications as recognised by the activity's national governing body (for example, BCU coaches for kayaking).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Passing Years - Milestones in the progress of Scouting" (PDF). The Scout Association. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  2. ^ "The Scout Association's Annual Report and Accounts 2013-2014" (PDF). The Scout Association. Retrieved 9 October 2014. (pp. 51-52)
  3. ^ "Rule 4.7: Explorer Scout Units". Policy, Organisation and Rules. The Scout Association. 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  4. ^ "Rule 4.8: Explorer Scout Unit Partnerships with Groups". Policy, Organisation and Rules. The Scout Association. 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  5. ^ "Rule 4.7(j): Explorer Scout Units". Policy, Organisation and Rules. The Scout Association. 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  6. ^ "The Explorer Scout Membership Award". Explorer Scout Badges. The Scout Association. 2006. Archived from the original on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  7. ^ "The Chief Scout's Platinum Award". Explorer Scout Badges. The Scout Association. 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  8. ^ "The Chief Scout's Diamond Award". Explorer Scout Badges. The Scout Association. 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  9. ^ "The Queen's Scout Award". Explorer Scout Badges. The Scout Association. 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  10. ^ "Explorer Belt". The Scout Association. 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  11. ^ http://www.explorerproject.co.uk/
  12. ^ "Sun Run 2011". 2010. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  13. ^ "Apex Challenge". 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
  14. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F67y6i0RZ0
  15. ^ "Continuing excellence in Air gun shooting". Air Rifle and Air Pistol Target Shooting. Hampshire Scout Rifle Club. 2006. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  16. ^ Dragnet
  17. ^ High Adventure

External links[edit]