Explore The Somme
Between: 24th July 2024 – 28th July 2024
Sections: Explorer Scouts
The Somme is a beautiful, tranquil region in northern France. It’s ideal for independent exploration by small teams of scouts.
In many ways, the Somme is much like Surrey. The undulating Somme countryside is a patchwork of fields, woods, chalk downs, villages and small towns. Quiet country roads link places of interest. The climate is very similar.
However, 100 years ago it could not have been more different. Thousands upon thousands of people were being wounded and killed in the battles of the first world war. On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, there were 60,000 British casualties. Every person who was hurt or died was someone’s friend, brother or son.
This new expedition gives Explorer Scouts the opportunity to explore the Somme region in small teams of five to seven scouts either by cycling or walking.
Over the five days from Wednesday, 24th July to Sunday, 28th July 2024, you will have the opportunity:
- To visit trench systems, battlefields, memorials and Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) sites associated with the Battle of the Somme
- To learn about individual soldiers who were involved in the first world war and understand more about what happened to them
- To take part in an act of Remembrance at the Thiepval memorial.
The expedition will be run as a mini-Explorer Belt with teams visiting sites independently. Overall, we expect you will return with:
- An awareness of the people who took part in the Battle of Somme and the events of the first world war
- A sense of how the past affects today and could affect the future
- Improved skills in teamwork, communication and leadership because of working in a small team.
To take part in the expedition, you will need:
- To be an Explorer, or possibly a Scout currently aged 13
- To have an interest in cycling expeditions and own or be able to borrow a suitable bicycle, or have an interest in walking expeditions
- Ideally, to have completed your Bronze DofE Award expedition or your Chief Scout’s Platinum Award expedition or equivalent by the time of the Explore the Somme expedition
- To attend two training events on Saturday 3rd February and the weekend of Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April
- To be ready to be part of a small team of 5 to 7 Explorers within a larger expedition totalling 40 to 50 Explorers and Leaders.
If you’re interested in the Explore the Somme expedition, please complete the registration form at this link and attend one of the two information sessions on either Tuesday 28th November at 7:30pm or Thursday 7th December at 6pm.
The expedition Leaders
The expedition will be led by an experienced team of Surrey Scouts Leaders.
Paul Iverson has been visiting the Somme frequently since his first school trip when he was 14. Paul is now a Commonwealth War Graves Commission volunteer and a battlefield tour guide. He is one of the Operation Last Post Leaders and has been part of the KIX management team since 2009. Paul was a member of the Explorer Belt in-country support team and continues to lead the Scoutabout Management Team.
Denise Iverson has supported the Explorer Belt, KIX in Switzerland and Operation Last Post. She supports both Beavers Go Wild and Bazzaz. Denise is currently Assistant County Commissioner for Beaver Scouts.
Andrew Carvell is a hill-walker, cyclist and mountaineer. He has led expeditions for young people to Scotland, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland among others. He leads Surrey’s Silver and Gold DofE award expeditions. He help organise Surrey’s annual Explorer Belt expedition. Andrew is currently Assistant County Commissioner for Explorer Scouts.
Paul, Denise and Andrew will be joined by a team of other Surrey Scouts leaders including some who have been part of Operation Last Post and recent Explorer Belts.
Travel, accommodation and sites you’ll visit
How will we get to and from France?
We expect to meet at Cobham Services at 7am on Wednesday 24th July. We will be travelling by coach to France using the ferry service at Dover. Bikes will be transported in a trailer attached to the coach. We expect to arrive back at Cobham Services at between 6pm and 8:30pm on Sunday 28th July.
Where will we be staying?
We will be staying at Albert, 80300, Somme. Albert is at the heart of the Somme battlefields.
What will the accommodation and eating arrangements be?
We will be camping in tents. Breakfast will be provided at the campsite. You will have a budget to buy your own lunches while you are visiting sites. You will cook your dinner at the campsite. We expect to go into Albert on the Saturday evening for an end of expedition meal at a local restaurant.
Which Battle of the Somme sites will we visit?
We expect you will visit a selection of Thiepval, the Ulster Tower, the Newfoundland Memorial Park, the Beaumont Hamel sunken road, Delville Wood (the South African National Memorial), Fricourt German cemetery, Hawthorn Ridge or Lochnagar crater, as well as various other CWCG sites and cemeteries. On the way to the Somme we expect to visit the CWGC Visitor Centre at Beaurains and on the way back to visit the Canadian memorial and trenches at Vimy Ridge.
How the expedition will work (cycling or walking)
How will the site visits work?
On each of Thursday, Friday and Saturday we expect you will head off as a team to visit a selection of sites. Leaders will provide necessary supervision. During your visits you will carry out project work. This project work should take between two and three hours. Each evening, on your return to the campsite, you will give a short summary of your day and what you have learned.
What project work will we do?
Like the Explorer Belt, you will use project work to get to know more about the people of the Somme, the events that took place there, and Surrey Scouts connections to the Somme.
How far will I have to cycle or walk?
We expect you will be cycling or walking for between three and four hours per day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This could mean cycling 30 to 40km or walking 10 to 14 km.
If I opt to cycle, what type of bike will I need?
You will need to own or be able to borrow a suitable bicycle. You will be cycling on roads and rough tracks so a mountain bike or touring bike or similar will be needed. You will be expected to have your bike, its brakes and gears fully serviced before the expedition.
Can I walk or do I have to cycle?
Yes, you can form a walking team or a cycling team. Though walkers will cover shorter distances, walkers and cyclists will be journeying for about the same amount of time each day.
Your team and the people you’ll be with
Do I need to be part of a team?
Yes, you must be part of a team. We expect most teams will be Explorers who already know each other, probably from the same Explorer Unit or District. Some teams may be made up of team members across Units and Districts.
How do I get into a team?
We will assist you to contact other Explorers who may be interested in forming a team, but we will not put you into a team. It is your responsibility to form your team. When you apply for the expedition, you will need to apply as a team.
How many people will be taking part?
The expedition will run with between 40 and 45 Explorers in 6 to 8 cycling and walking teams.
Age and experience criteria
What age do I need to be?
To join the expedition you need to be an Explorer Scout. You need to be aged from 13 ½ to 17 on the first day of the expedition, Wednesday, 24th July, 2024. You therefore might currently be a Scout aged 13. You must not be 18 on or before Wednesday, 24th July.
Who can apply?
We welcome Explorer Scouts from all parts of the UK. Because the number of expedition places is necessarily limited, we will give preference to teams containing Surrey Scouts.
What experience do I need to take part?
As a guide, you should have hiking, lightweight camping and expedition experience at or equivalent to Chief Scout’s Platinum / Bronze DofE award level. You should have an interest in cycling expeditions if you want to be part of a cycling team.
Training events before the expedition and what happens after
When are the training events?
The training events will be for the day of Saturday 3rd February and the weekend of Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April. The April event will involve staying overnight on a local campsite. You must attend the training events. Between the training events and in the lead-up to the expedition, you will be expected to conduct specific training and team-building activities.
What will I need to do after the expedition?
After your expedition you will be expected to make a presentation to your Explorer Unit about what you learned from your Explore the Somme experience
What awards will Explore the Somme counts towards?
The Explore the Somme expedition is expected to count as an International / Values activity for your Explorer Scout awards. It could count towards your King’s Scout Award. It will also provide nights way and hikes for your staged activity badges.
Costs, payment, documents and equipment
How much will the expedition cost?
We expect the expedition will cost in the region of £460 to £490. This includes the expedition itself and the two training events. Not included in the expedition cost is any individual spending money you choose to bring.
When will payment be due?
£150 will be due when you apply for an expedition place (which will be after the information sessions). £150 will be due at the end of February. The balance will be due by the end of April.
Will I need a passport and GHIC card
Yes, you will need both a passport and a GHIC health insurance card or a valid EHIC card. If you do not have a British passport, you will be responsible for obtaining and paying for any necessary visas you need to enter the UK and France.
What equipment will I need?
You will need to bring personal equipment such as sleeping bag, clothing and waterproofs. You will need to bring group equipment such as stoves and tents. We expect you will source group equipment from your Explorer Unit. You will need to bring a suitable bicycle if you are cycling.