Hello — my name is Holly Baker and I’ve been
involved in scouting for a very long time now.
My first encounter with the organisation was at the age of 10, when I joined the
33rd Kidlington Sea Scouts which I pursued for 4 years, until having to
leave, due to sadly being too old for that group. I enjoyed the Sea Scouts a lot, it made me
much more active and adventurous – a lover of the joys of the outside world.
During Sea Scouts I was able to partake in many awesome activities, such
as rock climbing, abseiling, caving, coasteering, high ropes courses and
many more – including staying at HMS Bristol and playing a football
tournament there. Many of these activities occurred on scout camps, which
would happen 4-5 times a year, one of which a year (Summer Camp) is as
long as a week, and the four that I attended whilst a member Sea Scouts
are more likely than not the highlight of my childhood.
My scouts troop also had access to the boat-base in Wolvercote, which we
would spend every week in the summer practising boating and having a
I achieved many badges during scouts. Most importantly I achieved my chief scout gold award, which is the
highest possible award in scouting. I was also chosen to be a Senior Patrol Leader (SPL)
which was a high level of authority in my troop. My
achievements meant I was asked to become a young leader for my scout
troop once I left, which I did so for 8 months, as part of my Duke of
Overall, when leaving sea scouts, I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving my
passion in scouting behind. Luckily, there was hope just round the corner,
or rather, in the same building!
To put it briefly: Explorers is a more adventurous step up from younger
scout groups. Explorers is targeted at 14-18 year olds. The group's aim is to create a
safe and trusted environment, in which teens can interact and socialise
while building personal skills that will be vital for their careers in the future.
I’ll also refer to it as “Gordo” because that is the name of the unit - named after the first ever
monkey to go to space (see Gordo's picture below).
Why Gordo Explorers?
We love Gordo!
Gordo was one of the first monkeys to travel into space.
Photo, Wikipedia: as part of the NASA space program, Gordo was launched from Cape Canaveral on December 13, 1958, in the U.S. PGM-19 Jupiter rocket on its AM-13 mission. The rocket would travel over 1,500 miles and reach a height of 310 miles before returning to Earth and landing in the South Atlantic.
Founded in 2005, this group was designed for people just like me, who
want to continue scouting despite having to leave their scout troop.
I attended 33rd Kidlington Sea Scouts, and Gordo, luckily, is also based in
Kidlington, in the same building, making it a very easy switch-over for me.
For me, Gordo Explorers is a bucket of laughs.
Due to all members’ ages, we all
have exams coming up, which can cause a lot of stress. Gordo allows me
to have an environment, for 2 hours on a Monday night, where I’m not
thinking about school. It acts as a break if you will, where I can mess about
and have fun, and just be a kid.
My unit is set up in a way that allows the members to choose the activities
we do, and even help run the activities. I like it this way, because it means
we have the power to do anything we want, and all of the leaders are open
to helping us do whatever we chose.
Exploring in Oxford.
What do other members say?
“Gordo ESU (Explorer Scout Unit) is a very good scout unit because it is very
fun and encourages teamwork” – says a member of Gordo.
“The leaders treat us members as equals, we have a kind of mutual respect
which allows us to trust them, to have a conversation about anything with
them and to have a laugh together,” says another.
“Gordo is like a big unorganised family. As much as we annoy each other,
we still care... I think,” another scout said.
Below, is an image of me playing
‘Sauce Twister’ (Twister, but instead of colours, there are different sauces on
paper plates: bbq, mustard, tomato ketchup, etc.). Taken during ‘messy games’ night.
Playing Sauce Twister!
Camps at Gordo
Just like at Sea Scouts, there are many camps to attend, including the
week long summer camp, and they are all a whole lot of fun!
One camp I attended was APEC (Annual Post Exam Camp), I will explain
my first hand experience.
We met at the scout hut in Kidlington, with all our bags packed – the leaders
had given us a list so we knew what to bring. We then all got onto a
minibus that had been hired out by the troop (there weren't very many of
us, so we all fitted in quite nicely) and before we knew it, we were on our
Before the camp we collectively made a playlist for the camp, so the
minibus bus ride was a very out of tune singalong – the whole way there.
On arrival we pitched two large tents; one for boys and one for girls, we
quickly set up camp, made a campfire, cooked our dinner and ate it
Me and two others decided to stay up all night, outside, whilst everyone
else slept. The leaders allowed it, and went to sleep. One member of our
party fell asleep at about 3am, so the remaining two of us played volleyball
until the rest of the unit woke up the next morning. It was something of an
The next day was action packed, we went to Oxford Aqua park and
enjoyed a picnic on the grass, and went to laser combat at the Kassam
That evening everyone slept outside, in our sleeping bags, around the fire
on our camping chairs, myself almost instantly!
The next day we packed up everything and minibus-ed home, after an
unforgettable weekend of fun.
Opportunities within Explorers
Within explorers is the opportunity to complete your Duke of Edinburgh
I am currently doing my DofE bronze award, Gordo provides this
opportunity 100% free of charge and, imaginably, more enjoyable than
doing it with school.
I recently did my practice camp, and enjoyed the challenge.