The Argus

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Two Louth scouts teams aim to earn Explorer Belts

There are four different sections: Beavers (6-8yrs), Cubs (9-11yrs), Scouts (12-15yrs) and Venturers (16-21yrs).All sections are very active and provide a very good programme for their members.The Venturer Section are currently involved in a number of projects. They are involved with the Scoutlink programme a cross border initiative and are linked with a group of Expl

There are four different sections: Beavers (6-8yrs), Cubs (9-11yrs), Scouts (12-15yrs) and Venturers (16-21yrs).

All sections are very active and provide a very good programme for their members.

The Venturer Section are currently involved in a number of projects. They are involved with the Scoutlink programme – a cross border initiative and are linked with a group of Explorer scouts from Omagh. A number of venturers are currently participating in the President’s Award and aiming for bronze, silver and gold awards, but for four of the venturers the most exciting project at the moment is the Explorer Belt.

It has been just over 15 years since the last team of venturers from Dundalk have participated in the Explorer Belt and this year two teams have been chosen to take part in the event. Only 16 teams from around the country will take place in this year’s challenge which will take place in Portugal.

So what exactly is the Explorer Belt? The trip consists of teams of two being dropped off at the side of the road in an unknown area in a different country each year. Each team must carry their personal gear, cooking equipment and tents in their rucksack. Each team are given an envelope which contains a map and some money before the bus drives off to drop off the next team in their spot.

The venturers are given 10 days to reach base camp and must have walked at least 200km in those 10 days. Sounds tough? That’s the easy part! Each team need to complete about 20 projects along the way as well as keeping a log book of the expedition, including the route taken that day, the menu and a daily budget. In order to do the projects, teams must interact with the local people to find out as much information as possible, ranging from local history to cooking traditional dishes. At the end of the 10 days the projects and log books will be assessed and successful teams will be awarded the Explorer Belt. The aim of ‘The Belt’ is to learn about different cultures, as well as being a physical and mental challenge.

The two teams from the Dundalk Venturer Section participating in this year’s Explorer Belt are Kevin Long and Aidan McGuinness, and Christopher Browne and Niall Parkin. Venturer Leader, Fintan Sheridan said “It’s a great opportunity for the four lads. It’s quite difficult to get selected for the Explorer Belt and it’s a great privilege to have two teams from the Section this year. The lads are all experienced hikers, having hiked in most of the mountain ranges in Ireland, we all took part in an overnight expedition in the Swiss Alps last Summer, and Aidan and Chris were with me when we hiked in the Appellations in America in 2002. Hopefully they will all come home with ‘the belt’ in July".

The four venturers are currently undergoing intensive training, doing a lot of road hiking at the moment. They spent Easter weekend hiking in and around the Dublin area as part of their training as well.

The cost of the expedition is ?1500 per team and some specialist equipment needs to be bought also. To help allay some of the expense, a table quiz is organised for Thursday 20th April in Kehoe’s Bar (Ridleys) at 8:30pm. A table of four is only ?20 and 1st prize is ?150. So please come along and support the lads.