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Jumping the midnight sun

So here I am, an Adventure Leader for British Exploring, fresh back from the land of fire and ice. It was three awesome weeks of inspirational landscapes and people. I’ve always loved geography, and one of the reasons I entered the world of outdoor education was to immerse myself in the geography of the world.

Iceland is about as amazing as it gets when you are looking for a few geography topics to bring into the day. We spent one evening jumping the sun at about 11pm! It was a memorable way to grasp the concept of the midnight sun!

I came to be a volunteer leader on a British Exploring expedition for the first time during my 11th year of working and adventuring in the outdoors. Throughout my story, the most important part has been the great people I have had around me teaching, supporting and encouraging me all the way. They believed in me and so I believed in myself, and I became a qualified outdoor instructor with the ability to look after people in wild and remote places. I feel privileged to be in a position where I can encourage and support others, as many people did for me, through life-changing outdoor adventures.

One of the highlights of the Iceland expedition for all of us was standing on the rim of Askja Caldera, which formed in such a dramatic volcanic explosion after immense pressure built up beneath the very ground we were now standing on. This was the biggest moment in our expedition and my Fire (team) reflected on this in their journal with these words: “Some of us stood on top of Volcano Askja in our shorts and t-shirts, even though it was freezing cold, and we felt elated, proud and determined as we had worked so hard to achieve our goal.”

The leaders could not resist the T-shirt photo shoot too, especially since Páramo had so generously provided us with technical Cambia T-shirts. The T-Shirts wicked the sweat away from our bodies as we worked hard to trek uphill through snow, which meant we didn’t lose so much heat when we stopped.

British Exploring brought together 4 schools invited from their partner organisation ‘Whole Education’. These schools became the base camp schools for the Expeditionary Year programme. The programme is encouraging learning beyond the National Curriculum and it was incredible to watch this learning happening all around me. I couldn’t have worded it better than one of my young explorers who said; “If I had been offered 3 weeks of intensive learning, I probably would have said no thanks, but this type of learning is awesome.”

We were not only learning about the environment, how it got there and how to protect it; but also, how to function as a team, make good decisions, be confident, persevere when things are tough, look after ourselves and look after each other. This was without a doubt about as “whole” as education gets. The explorers reflected one day that “Team work on expedition is essential, you won’t get very far without it. The people on your expedition become your best friends and are just as important as where you go.”

I am proud to be part of British Exploring. Their work in encouraging young people to expedition is positive and effective, and is raising a generation of young people who have learnt through their expedition experiences the importance of care for the environment, respect for each other and belief in themselves. I hope to work with British Exploring more in the future and I’m very grateful to Paramo for supporting us as individuals on these expeditions with kit that was ideal for the conditions we were in. The Cambia T-Shirt worked well for me on its own when the weather was warm or as a base layer as part of my existing layering system. The moisture wicking worked well and I found the shape and cut of the T-Shirt very comfortable. It also felt professional as a leader to have a garment that united us as a team and was the right bit of kit for the job!

An expedition takes an immense amount of work to make happen and the teamwork that pulled this one together was incredible. Thank you to British Exploring for making it happen, to Páramo (British Exploring’s Official kit partner), to the base camp schools for getting involved and working hard to fundraise, and to my amazing Fire and Co Leaders for the all the effort, positivity and fun in the field!

Ruth Campion, BE Adventure Leader

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