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Our History - all sixteen years of it…..

The UK Scout Association decided in 2001 to lower the upper age limit of Scouts to 14 from 16, close all Venture Units by summer 2003, and create Explorer Scout Units to cater for the 14-18 age group starting in 2002. The Ampthill & Woburn District and the Badger Hill Scout Group decided they wanted to implement the changes starting in early 2002.

The first meeting of Badger Hill Explorer Scout Unit took place in Wrest Park at the beginning of March 2002, with Dave Davies, then Assistant Scout Leader at Badger Hill as prospective Explorer Scout Leader and Andy Knight as the first District Explorer Scout Commissioner. There were nine potential Explorers; three 15/16 year old guys, Nick, Dan, and Pete who were going to move across from Badger Hill Scouts and two 17 year old guys, both called Matt, who had retired from Scouts but who hadn’t joined Ventures, knowing that Explorers were on the way. We also had four girls who had some Guiding experience but who’d found out about Explorers because two of them, Livvi and Emma, were sisters of Scouts who had told them what was happening and the other two, Jenny and Rachael came along to keep them company!

The first proper camp was over the August Bank Holiday in 2002 when the Unit went for a weekend at Stiffkey on the Norfolk coast.

Stiffkey was notable for two things. Firstly we arranged to hold our first investiture on the deck of the Wells lifeboat, which hadn’t been out for six weeks, but got a “shout” 30 seconds before we were going to start, so we had to get off rapidly and hold the investiture beside the slipway with the lifeboat being launched behind us.

The second notable event was a spectacular mud fight on Stiffkey Marshes as pictured here. This photo is entitled “Join Explorers for Good Clean Fun” and is in the Gilwell media archive as well as having been used for Scouting publicity as far away as Australia.

2003 started a pattern which has basically continued to the present, of having a “chill-out” weekend at the end of May just prior to exam time, attending the Gilwell24 in July, a weeks summer camp in July/Aug, a weekend around the October half term, and a Xmas trip, initially to London but in recent years to York for the St Nicholas Fair at the end of November where we stay in a local Scout Group’s HQ. We’ve also fitted in weekends at Thorpe Park, a couple of Winter Camps at Gilwell, numerous DofE expeditions, and a few other trips where there’s been something planned for Explorers that’s taken our fancy.

Dave ran the Unit on his own until summer 2005 with volunteer parents as the “second adult”. At the Gilwell24 that year, Jacqui Shapland, the mum of one of the latest Explorers, was rash enough to comment that he was going to need some help because the Unit was 20 strong at that time and predicted to head towards 30. Having made an offer like that there was no way back and she stayed as assistant leader until 2010, when she took on the task of starting a Network Unit so that our 18 year old Explorers had somewhere to move on to. Jacqui’s still very much involved with the DofE Award and is qualified as a Gold level assessor.

Left to Right: Matt, Emma, Nick, Rachael, Livvi & Jenny…………probably……we think.

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