A primary aim of many expeditions is to facilitate personal development of young people and while there is much anecdotal evidence to support this aim, there is limited empirical work of varied quality that explores the specific nature of such benefits. This research examined nine summer BES expeditions (Norway, Namibia, & Amazon in 2012; Finnmark, Ladakh, & Namibia in 2013 and 2014) involving 58 young people (aged between 15 and 22) who completed three on-line questionnaires to collect qualitative (open ended questions) and quantitative (Likert scale) data. Measurement of four psychological attributes associated with effective character development were used: mental toughness, coping skills, GRIT and leadership skills. Surveys were completed at three stages; 1) pre-expedition, 2) immediately post expedition and 3) three months post expedition. Results indicated that the expeditions impacted positively on the psychological attributes of young people, with lasting short terms effects (three months after expedition). For the 58 participants, there were statistically significant improvements and small positive effect sizes in mental toughness (P = 0.006; ηp2 = 0.167), leadership skills (P = 0.004; ηp2 = 0.18), and GRIT (P = 0.001; ηp2 = 0.218). There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) or effect size for the application of coping strategies. Qualitative data provided insights into how the learning took place and individual perspectives on the overall value of the expedition in relation to narrative understanding.
- personal and social development
- youth development
- experiential learning
- values education
- British Exploring Society