Arctic Adventures in Svalbard with BSES

by Lucy Dickinson

Large male polar bear

Large male polar bear

I have just returned from a ten week trip providing medical support to a BSES (British Schools Exploring Society) Expedition to Svalbard. BSES is a youth development charity that aims to provide young people with inspirational, challenging scientific expeditions to remote, wild environments and so develop their confidence, teamwork, leadership and spirit of adventure and exploration. It was founded in 1932 by George Murray Levick who was a member of Captain Scott’s last expedition. The name, “BSES”, is a bit of a misnomer as they don’t just work with school children. There were 15 young people aged 18 to 23 on this trip from varying backgrounds. Most had worked for many months to raise the funds necessary for the trip and a few received charitable grants. As well as the 15 young people there were 7 leaders including myself. Most of the leader team worked on a voluntary basis and paid a small amount towards their expenses. The aims of the expedition were to learn how to survive in the extreme cold, to complete scientific research in the fields of Geography and Biology, to develop mountaineering skills and to simply adventure in this beautiful wilderness.

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