Expeditions

International Expeditions

Borders Exploration Group is best known for its International Expeditions and aims to organise one (approximately) every two years.

So far, International Expeditions have gone to:

  • Lesotho in 1993
  • Ecuador in 1995
  • Kenya in 1997
  • Mongolia in 1999
  • India in 2001
  • Peru in 2003
  • Vietnam in 2005
  • Zambia in 2007
  • Chile in 2010
  • Cuba in 2012
  • Malawi in 2014

All International Expeditions are led by a team of volunteer leaders and every expedition typically consists of three phases:

  • Community phase
  • Adventure phase
  • Project phase

European Expeditions

European Expeditions were initiated to fill the need for a shorter experience which was less expensive in time and cost. All the same expedition aims, selection and training procedures apply as in the International Expeditions.

So far expeditions have gone to:-

  • Rhine Valley & Solar Eclipse 1999
  • Romania 2002
  • Pyrenees 2004
  • Norway 2006
  • Poland 2008
  • Ukraine 2011
  • Austria 2015

European Expedition Presentation Guidelines

In the years between the International Expeditions there is usually an expedition to a country closer to home. These expeditions have normally lasted around 17 days (2 weeks including the weekends at each end). The expeditions are smaller than the International Expeditions with around 12-15 venturers and 5-7 leaders. Although not constrained to destinations within Europe the expectation is that the trip should be much more affordable than an International Expedition – recent expeditions have cost around £600 per person and have therefore not required too much fundraising.

If you would like to propose a destination for a European expedition please prepare a presentation detailing the following points:

  • Approximate cost of travel/the trip
  • What sort of things could you do?
  • Community phase contacts
  • Adventure phase contacts
  • Environmental phase contacts
  • Personal contacts
  • Photos
  • What makes your destination unique?
  • Why does your destination fit with the BEG ethos?

Expedition Quotes

What the venturers say:

  • A venturer writing in Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains: “If there is a heaven, you could not get much closer than we are just now. It is hard to find words to describe how amazing, dramatic and uplifting these mountains are.”
  • A venturer returning from Ecuador: “I am a more independent person as a result of our trip. I definitely put more into life now.”
  • A venturer’s impression of Kenyan life: “I think that the expedition changed my awareness of my life and its direction. I feel as if I have really been privileged to see how the other side lived, and how much joy they have in the simple things of life.”
  • Lesotho venturer: “I found a certain peace within myself out in Lesotho. I will never lose that.”
  • Ecuador venturer on her return: “I really liked living with the group atmosphere, it was amazing. It’s like being part of a large family.”
  • Kenyan venturer: “Most people feel that we are so much better off – we are in money – but in what else? They have lots of fun and laughter, even though their lives are so hard. It’s a lesson to all of us.”

A Typical International Expedition Timetable

The table below shows a fairly typical timetable for planning an expedition. Along with this, there will be a substantial number of leader meetings to ensure all the plans are going well. Leaders and venturers will also be carrying out their personal fundraising events, as well as group fundraising. In simple terms, an International Expedition is almost a two year commitment which is a very busy time for everyone involved.

Destination Research & Proposals Done
Destination Selection Oct / Nov
Further Destination Research Jan – March
Leader Selection Weekend March / April
Detailed Research / Phase Planning April to June
Venturer Selection Day April / May / June
Initial Training Day June / July
1st Training Weekend September
2nd Training Weekend October
3rd Training Weekend November
4th Training Weekend Jan / Feb
5th Training Weekend March
Final Training Weekend June
Packing Day Early July
The Expedition July August
Reporting Weekend September

Selection Procedures

Venturers

The group is open to Borderers aged 16 upwards (because the time from selection to departure is around 15 months, they may be selected younger than 16).

Following submission of an application form, venturers are selected during an outdoor adventure day. Through a variety of team challenges, venturers are observed for qualities such as humour, stamina, initiative, communication and application. Wherever practicable, no medical condition or handicap will be a barrier to selection.

Leaders

Leaders are all self-financing volunteers. They too are selected by rigorous procedures and their ability to integrate with venturers is imperative. Leader selection takes place over a weekend.

As with the venturers, prospective leaders are put through a series of challenging and demanding tasks. Their ability to work as a team, face up to tricky situations, show initiative and maintain their composure while coping with a variety of unusual tasks will decide who will be able to face up to the demands of leading an expedition.

Despite the terms “leaders” and “venturers”, every expedition has agreed that the group works as one unit.

The Training Team

The members of the training team are selected from the main BEG organisation; they are always experienced members who have either led or participated in previous expeditions. The team start by interviewing the chief leader, then organise the selection of the leader team and advise on the venturer selection.

The training team have a remit to ensure that all the training requirements of the group are met, these include training weekends, training days and specific events where specialists can be brought in to address the expedition team. Apart from the organisational aspect of the training, the team are there to advise, support and guide both venturers and leaders with particular attention being paid to the health, safety and welfare of the group members.

The training team work in close co-operation with the chief leader but also provide an independent and confidential platform where expedition members can air any problems, grievances or simply talk through any concerns. The training team are responsible to the Borders Exploration Group committee.

The training team for each expedition can be contacted at any time and will address any expedition issue be it from leaders, venturers, parents or indeed from any interested party.

If you are interested in helping at any of the training weekends please contact BEG using the website contact form.

Training

Training for an International Expedition starts a year before the expedition is due to depart. Over some six training weekends, venturers and leaders are provided with basic first aid training, camping skills and other useful techniques. They are faced with a wide variety of “tricky situations”, emergency scenarios, personal challenges and team building exercises.

Through all of this, they also have to continue with their personal fundraising, as well as day to day school or work commitments.

A recent training weekend timetable went something like this:

Friday Evening Arrive, register, prepare route plans for Saturday’s walks.
Saturday am Rise at 7:00am, breakfast by 8:00, pack and leave hall by 9:00am.
Saturday am & pm Walk, (mostly 10-12km) to campsite, carrying all kit and food.
Saturday pm & eve Set up camp, make evening meal, camp fire, early to bed.
Sunday 3am!!! Emergency evacuation of campsite.
Sunday am Make breakfast, break camp, ready to leave at 9:30am.
Sunday am Walk ~ 4km to supplied map reference; for what?
Sunday am & pm Emergency casualty evacuation.
A minibus has hit a land mine in a river, we have to find and treat the injured.
Sunday pm Return to hall for hot soup & debrief, head for home with tents to clean.

The Minibus Emergency Scenario

We were presented with a Minibus which had been in an accident. No ordinary accident mind you, it was on fire having struck a mine while fording a river!!

As if that wasn’t enough, there had been 10 people in it, four were still there, trapped inside the bus, injured of course and needing to be rescued.

Six others had managed to get out of the bus. They had to be found, treated for any injuries and then carried back to the tents which we had to set up as an emergency relief centre.

We were in for a lot of first aid and carrying.

CPR – Venturers try to revive Annie

Some of our venturers carry out CPR on Annie to try and revive her. It says much for their determination and how seriously they took the exercise that they carried on with this for more than an hour on a frosty February morning.

The River Crossing

One very worried casualty, with an equally nervous carrying team!

Once the casualties had been found, they had to be taken back to a “secure area”. For some this involved a short carry, for others it meant a major test of nerve as they were usually in a stretcher, completely dependent on the folk carrying them safely for quite a long distance.

In this case, the casualty had already been lifted over a barbed wire fence and was now facing another obstacle with the prospect of a good soaking in extremely cold water if the team got it wrong. The good news is that we crossed the river with wet feet and a dry, very relieved casualty.

On reflection of how the training weekend had gone, we were all very grateful to the folk who had offered to be our victims.