Moving up to Explorers

Explorers is the fourth stage on a young person’s Scouting journey. Some kids start at Beavers and work their way through Cubs, then Scouts and finally on to Explorers. Others might join much later – going straight into Scouts or even Explorers. There really are no rules and everyone is welcome, whenever they join the Scout Association.

My eldest joined Beavers pretty late, when he was already 7 and a half. My younger son joined Beavers the week after his 6th birthday. They both loved Scouting and have worked their way through the movement and are now Explorers.

You can join Explorers from 13 and a half and stay at Scouts until 14 and a half, so there is some flexibility about when kids move up. Some even choose to do both for a while and that’s absolutely fine.

My boys LOVE Explorers. To be honest, they loved Scouts, Cubs and Beavers too. But as soon as they moved up to the next stage, the previous stage suddenly became ‘crap’.

Explorers is all about activities and friendship, just as Scouts is. It’s a great opportunity to meet kids from different schools and to work with kids of different ages. At school, young people tend to just stick with their own year group, but at Explorers, the 14 year olds and 17 year olds are working side-by-side.

The main difference from Scouts is that the Explorers themselves take the lead much more in choosing their own activities. At my sons’ Explorer Scout Unit, this appears to be a lot to do with making fires. I swear they start a fire (in different ways) nearly every week. They also do cooking, mending stuff, making stuff and hiking. In the summer, they usually have a few evenings of canoeing.

My eldest even did his Bronze D of E through Explorers, at a fraction of the cost we paid for his brother to do it through school.

Not that many kids actually move up to Explorers, which is a shame, as they don’t know what they’re missing. In the UK, there are 31,976 Explorers, compared to 113,058 Scouts, 140,621 Cubs and 103,226 Beavers. Where we live, there isn’t an Explorer Scout Unit at the same place as our Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, so they are forced to move out of their comfort zones, which some young people don’t like. Plus, they’re teenagers and the lure of YouTube and the Xbox might just be too strong for them to get out of the house one evening a week, even if it is mainly to light fires.

As with all sections of Scouting, Explorers have a Scout Promise to make and the Scout Law to obey. The Scout Promise isn’t all about Christianity and can be adapted for different faiths, and for those who have no faith.

Young people have to leave Explorers by their 18th birthday, which means that my eldest has less than a year to go. He has loved every minute of it and it’s been great to see him so enthusiastic about something, even if my sense of humour does fail me slightly when I’m having to drive miles to the middle of nowhere for a camp or a canoeing trip.

If your teenagers want a bit of fun and adventure at very little cost, they could do a lot worse than joining Explorers. You can find your local group here.

Explorers, Explorer Scouts, Moving up to Explorers, Scouting

Beavers is for ages 6-8

Cubs for ages 8-10.5

Scouts for ages 10.5-14.5

Explorers for ages 13.5-18

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. My son is too old for scouts now so has left. Unfortunately our Explorers is on a night that just doesn’t fit with the family juggling. I hope the routines might be different in September so he can go. I was a Venture Scout and I think that might be the same thing. I loved it so much, particularly the expeditions … and fires!

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    • That’s a shame, but I know how hard it is to fit everything in. We’re forever waiting for timetables to change to fit new things in. My daughter couldn’t do Cubs or Beavers because it clashed with ballet, but Scouts is sufficiently late not to clash, although she has a very tight turnaround! Next we’re waiting for her ballet to move from a Thursday so she can start at an athletics club.
      Yes, I think Explorers is the same as Venture Scouts! I know a few of my husband’s friends went to Venture Scouts, although he never did.

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  2. So good to read all about Explorers. Katie has been with her scout group for 6 years now, starting a few days after her 6th birthday and going into Beavers. I often wonder whether she will continue her scouting journey after scouts. It was god that your son was able to do his DofE with them, and I didn’t realise you had to pay to do it. Our school fully funds Bronze, Silver and Gold x

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    • My daughter has already said she doesn’t think she will do Explorers, but she hasn’t been in Scouting all the way through like Katie and my boys. She might change her mind when the time comes.
      That’s amazing that your school fully funds D of E. I’m not joking when I say I’ve spent hundreds on my younger son’s Bronze. Every practise expedition, planning day etc etc has had a cost attached to it and it has really added up. It has certainly put me off him doing Silver, although he might decide to do that through Explorers rather than school. x

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  3. This is so refreshing to read, it’s sad reading online about how few young people spend a decent amount of time outside. Mine have had no involvement with beavers / cubs / scouts and I’m not sure they will because they do so many other things but I do think it’s a great thing for kids to be involved in.

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    • It is a fantastic thing for kids to be involved in. My boys are both young leaders too.
      It’s good that your girls have so many other things to do. We were never able to fit Scouting into my daughter’s life until she was actually old enough for Scouts as Beavers and Cubs always clashed with ballet. x

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  4. Get your son to investigate Network Scouts, they are the fifth age section of Scouts, 18 to 25, and there are still lots of things they do. Some of my former Explorers (yes I am an ESL) have done their Explorer Belt (was named such WELL before the Explorer Section was created) , Queen Scouts Award/Gold DofE, Scouts of the World Award, Roverway, become a leader…, and SO much more

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    • Thanks very much, I will! It sounds fantastic. He’s vaguely aware of them, but doesn’t know much about them. Both of my boys are young leaders at Beavers too.

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  5. My 7 year old has just started beavers and he loves it. They don’t seem to do muxh but he comes out happy and beaming every week. I’m trying to get Midge who is 10 and a half into the scouts but she is having none of it, too scared they’ll make her rock climb or something she has no sense of adventure sadly only fear!

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