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Holly Baker

steps up from

Scout to Explorer


Holly Baker age 15 years in 2019, is a Year-10 pupil at Gosford Hill School. Holly's ambition is to enter the world of news and journalism and in this article she describes how her continued love of all things scouting has led her up and into the challenging ranks of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and onward to become a full member of Kidlington's Gordo Explorers. And if you have not met the word Gordo before — Holly reveals what's behind the name of this rather special and certainly unique adventurer – in honour of whom her new Explorers' Group for 14-18 year olds is named.

Open Quotes

Scouting since the age of 10

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 good time.

Boating on the river.

My Chief Scout Gold Award

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 Edinburgh award.

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!

Around the Campfire.

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 way.

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 together.

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 experience.

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 stadium.

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 award.

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.


Overall, Gordo is a community that I thoroughly enjoy being a part of. Every weekly meeting, camp, or event I spend within the group always comes with a laugh and a good memory or two.

The group is still quite small, so if you, or your children might be interested in joining, then do try it out! The first 4 weeks are free, so you’ve nothing to lose.

Gordo is a great opportunity to relax, meet new people, enjoy experiences that you might not be given the chance to normally, and to discover a more adventurous side of yourself.

So why not give it a try?

Here's some Key Information:

NAME OF GROUP: Gordo Explorer Scouts

WHERE WE ARE BASED: Blenheim Rd, Kidlington OX5 2HR

WHEN WE MEET: Monday night 7pm-9pm

STATUS: Always looking for new members

AGE TO JOIN: 14 - 18 years

FEE: First 4 weeks free (to see if you like it) then £2.50 subs per week, and if you’d like to invest (join officially) there is a £40 membership fee. You only pay for the weeks that you turn up! And being late, leaving early, or not attending is never an issue. Just come when you can make it- we understand that you might have other commitments.


Click to visit Gordo Explorer Scouts

Close Quotes
Quill Pen
Holly Baker
June 2019

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