Hey there! Are you ready to power through the second half of your Exploration merit badge? Going on adventures and learning new things are two great parts of Scouting, and you’ll get both in earning this awesome badge! I can’t wait to help you learn more about exploration and have the adventure of a lifetime.
You’ve reached part 2 of my ultimate guide to the Exploration merit badge! If you’re new to ScoutSmarts, you should first check out part 1 for the answers to requirements 1-6b of the Exploration merit badge.
In our last article, we covered a whole lot of ground (pun intended! 😛 ), from the meaning of exploration itself to planning your own mission. Still, there’s a lot more to get through: the nitty-gritty of prepping for, going on, and wrapping up your expedition.
It’s time to get back into it! Take a minute to closely review and think through requirements 6-9 of the Exploration merit badge. Then, you’ll be ready to learn the answers to each requirement and plan an expedition of your own!
What Are The Exploration Merit Badge Answers?
- Expedition Planning. Discuss with your counselor each of the following steps for conducting a successful exploration activity. Explain the need for each step.
6c. Budget and plan for adequate financial resources. Estimate costs for travel, equipment, accommodations, meals, permits or licenses, and other expedition expenses.
6d. Determine equipment and supplies required for personal and mission needs for the length of the expedition.
6e. Determine communication and transportation needs. Plan how to keep in contact with your base or the outside world, and determine how you will communicate with each other on-site.
6f. Establish safety and first aid procedures (including planning for medical evacuation). Identify the hazards that explorers could encounter on the expedition, and establish procedures to prevent or avoid those hazards.
6g. Determine team selection. Identify who is essential for the expedition to be successful and what skills are required by the expedition leader.
6h. Establish detailed recordkeeping (documentation) procedures. Plan the interpretation and sharing of information at the conclusion of the expedition.
- Prepare for an Expedition. With your parent’s permission and counselor’s approval, prepare for an actual expedition to an area you have not previously explored; the place may be nearby or far away. Do the following:
7a. Make your preparations under the supervision of a trained expedition leader, expedition planner, or other qualified adult experienced in exploration (such as a school science teacher, museum representative, or qualified instructor).
7b. Use the steps listed in requirement 6 to guide your preparations. List the items of equipment and supplies you will need. Discuss with your counselor why you chose each item and how it will be of value on the expedition. Determine who should go on the expedition.
7c. Conduct a pre-expedition check, covering the steps in requirement 6, and share the results with your counselor. With your counselor, walk through the Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety for your expedition. Ensure that all foreseeable hazards for your expedition are adequately addressed.
- Go on an Expedition. Complete the following:
8a. With your parent’s permission and under the supervision of your merit badge counselor or a counselor-approved qualified person, use the planning steps you learned in requirement 6 and the preparations you completed in requirement 7 to personally undertake an actual expedition to an area you have not previously explored.
8b. Discuss with your counselor what is outdoor ethics and its role in exploration and enjoying the outdoors responsibly.
8c. After you return, compile a report on the results of your expedition and how you accomplished your objective(s). Include a statement of the objectives, note your findings and observations, include photos, note any discoveries, report any problems or adverse events, and have a conclusion (whether you reached your objective or not). The post-expedition report must be at least one page and no more than three; one page can be photos, graphs, or figures.
- Career Opportunities. Identify three career opportunities in exploration. Pick one and explain to your counselor how to prepare for such a career. Discuss what education and training are required, and why this profession might interest you.
6c) Budget and plan for adequate financial resources. Estimate costs for travel, equipment, accommodations, meals, permits or licenses, and other expedition expenses.
Of course, exploration isn’t free — depending on what you want to do, it can get pretty expensive. Therefore, you need to estimate what the costs of your travel, equipment, accommodation, and everything in between. Things to ask yourself include the following:
- How long is the trip going to last? (Extensive trips can be expensive!)
- What sort of accommodation will be staying in? (Are you staying in a tent or a hotel?)
- How many meals per day will you eat, and how much they will cost? (Do you eat 3 square meals per day or are you built like a strongman who needs 10,000 calories per day?)
- What kinds of permits and licenses will you need? (Do you need special permits for areas that tourists may not be able to access otherwise?)
- What sort of equipment will you need? (Depending on the type of expedition, gear and resource costs can vary greatly).
The number one reason why it’s so important to budget properly is because you don’t want to be halfway through your exploration journey just to figure out you’ve run out of money. By planning ahead, you can determine what’s financially doable before you start your expedition.
6d) Determine equipment and supplies required for personal and mission needs for the length of the expedition.
You then need to determine exactly what type of equipment you’ll need. For instance, if you’re going to the jungle, you’ll need a lot of protection from moisture and insects. However, if you’re going mountaineering, you might need cold-weather gear, ropes and pulleys, ice climbing equipment, and so on.
Knowing exactly what you need is very important for several reasons:
- Equipment can make up a large part of your costs. You can’t make that budget we talked about without knowing what you’ll have to buy!
- The right gear will allow you to accomplish your mission. The point of your expedition is to gather information, so you’ll need the right tools to keep track of what you discover!
- You want to be as comfortable as possible. Exploring means leaving some of the comforts of home behind, but you don’t have to be frozen solid or covered in bug bites to get this badge 🙂
- Above all, the right gear will keep you safe! Whether it’s a life jacket, a helmet, or a first aid kit, your supplies can keep injury to a minimum, and they might just save your life.
A fantastic starting point is to make sure you have all of the Scout camping essentials like a multitool, tent, fire starter, and sources of nutrition, just to name a few. However, full expedition supplies will likely be beyond this scope, and may include flare guns, defense tools, transportation, or GPS equipment.
6e) Determine communication and transportation needs. Plan how to keep in contact with your base or the outside world, and determine how you will communicate with each other on-site.
You always need to plan ahead in terms of transportation. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the jungle only to realize that you have no way to get home! You need to know how you will travel from home to your exploration start, how you will travel throughout the journey, and how you’ll get home afterwards.
The same goes for communication. You need to make sure that you always have a good method of communication on hand in case of emergencies. This could be a cell phone, a satellite phone, or more primitive communication equipment such as two-way radios, whistles, and even emergency signaling gear such as mirrors.
Knowing how you will contact the outside world is key in the event of an emergency. There should also be other people who are aware of where you are going, so if they don’t hear from you, they know to send help. Simply put, you can’t go on an exploration adventure if you don’t know how you’re going to get there…and get back!
6f) Establish safety and first aid procedures (including planning for medical evacuation). Identify the hazards that explorers could encounter on the expedition, and establish procedures to prevent or avoid those hazards.
As a Scout exploring a new place, one of the most important things is for you to identify what hazards that you might encounter. Some of the most common hazards here include the following:
- Trench foot
- Insect bites
- Snake bites
- Bacterial infections
- Physical injuries
More often than not, when you are adventuring and exploring, you’re well away from civilization. Exploration gets you far from your daily routine…but also far from the nearest hospital. A safety procedure can help you avoid danger and prepare you to deal with anything that does go wrong.
To learn how to effectively handle and treat most types of hazards that could be encountered on an expedition, be sure to earn your First Aid merit badge!
6g) Determine team selection. Identify who is essential for the expedition to be successful and what skills are required by the expedition leader.
The next step here is to determine who is going to come along for your expedition. Only bring along people who are essential, and no one else. It would be super fun to bring all your buddies along, but that could get pretty expensive, and be a hazard for anyone who’s unprepared!
Even more important is having the right kind of people along who know what they are doing. For instance, if you plan on exploring the jungle, having a botanist and biologist on hand might be handy, whereas a theoretical physicist probably wouldn’t be the first choice to take into the jungle! 😂
If you plan to gather knowledge and evidence based on scientific fact, you need people who are trained in those specific disciplines. You have goals to achieve, and you need the right type of experts to achieve those goals. Overall, having the right team will make the journey that much more productive and fun!
6h) Establish detailed recordkeeping (documentation) procedures. Plan the interpretation and sharing of information at the conclusion of the expedition.
You always want to establish detailed record-keeping procedures. The whole point of exploration is to gather information in a scientific and organized manner. If you can’t keep records of exactly what you found, where you found it, and when you found it, you can’t share that information with others!
At the end of it all, you need to know how you’re going to share your findings with others in a way that is easy for them to understand. After all, the goal of exploration is not just to find out new things, but to share them with other people! Think ahead about how you’ll analyze and report the data you gather.
7) Prepare for an Expedition. With your parent’s permission and counselor’s approval, prepare for an actual expedition to an area you have not previously explored; the place may be nearby or far away. Do the following:
For this requirement, you’ll use everything we’ve discussed in this guide so far to effectively plan for an expedition. You’ll put all the work you’ve done so far together so you’ll be ready to start your adventure. Get excited — you’re about to explore a place you’ve never been to!
Before we dive into everything, I’d highly recommend watching this video (21:36) for excellent tips and things to keep top-of-mind when embarking on your expedition. Doing so will help you to be better prepared and get more out of this simulated exploration adventure!
Also, always make sure that you get the permission of a counselor or a parent before preparing an actual expedition. Sure, you can always plan an expedition to Mount Everest, but this doesn’t mean that your parents will approve! For this requirement, I’d recommend going to a nearby landmark or Scouting out your local area to make some new discoveries.
7a) Make your preparations under the supervision of a trained expedition leader, expedition planner, or other qualified adult experienced in exploration (such as a school science teacher, museum representative, or qualified instructor).
You probably aren’t familiar with the place you’re planning to explore, or else you wouldn’t be exploring it! So, in order to properly plan for your expedition, you need support from someone who is familiar. You wouldn’t plan an expedition to the ocean with someone who’s never gone swimming before!
Make sure you pick the right pro to guide you through challenges to a successful mission. You wouldn’t hire a trained seamstress to teach you how to box, and you wouldn’t hire Mike Tyson to teach you how to sew a dress. 😛
If you plan on exploring a mountainous region, you need someone experienced with mountaineering; if you’re setting out on the high seas, you’ll need a skilled sailor…and so on and so forth. If nothing else, this will allow you to be well prepared and to stay safe during your journey.
7b) Use the steps listed in requirement 6 to guide your preparations. List the items of equipment and supplies you will need. Discuss with your counselor why you chose each item and how it will be of value on the expedition. Determine who should go on the expedition.
You will be making a step-by-step plan later on, but for now, it’s important for you to list the items that you’ll bring along. For this requirement, you need to list all of the items you’ll require for your expedition, and explain why you need them — you may need to do some research!
Example: Items You Might Bring on a Jungle or Rainforest Expedition
- Hat: The hat is needed to keep the sun off of your head.
- Extra Shoes: Extra shoes are a good idea in the jungle in case your feet get wet.
- Rain Gear: The jungle can get very wet, so to keep yourself dry, rain gear is required.
- Food and Drink: You’ll need to bring enough food and drink to last for the entirety of your expedition.
- Notebooks: You’ll want to bring along notebooks to record information as you go.
- First Aid Kit: The jungle is a relatively dangerous place with many threats, which means that having a first aid kit on hand is essential.
- Emergency Signaling Equipment: It’s easy to get lost or hurt in the jungle, so having equipment on hand to signal for help is important.
- Snake Handling Gear: As you’ll see below, in our example, the goal of the mission is to discover a new snake. This means that snake handling gear is required.
- Antivenom: Antivenom will come in handy in the jungle in case a venomous snake bite occurs.
- Camera: A camera is required on this expedition to record anything and everything seen.
You then also want to determine who needs to go on the mission. For instance, if the plan is to explore the jungle in search of a new snake, you’ll need a guide who knows the terrain. You might also need a first aid expert, a snake wrangler to handle the snakes, and a scientist who is familiar with snakes.
Of course, this is just a rough example. Exactly who you’ll need to bring along on your expedition depends on where you’re going and what your mission is! Just make sure to think through what you need and who can help you safely reach your goals.
7c) Conduct a pre-expedition check, covering the steps in requirement 6, and share the results with your counselor. With your counselor, walk through the Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety for your expedition. Ensure that all foreseeable hazards for your expedition are adequately addressed.
To really help prepare you for this requirement, we’re going to go through a step-by-step of example of what this might look like. We’re going to follow all of the same steps as listed above in requirement 6, and hopefully put together a solid plan. 🙂
Example: Expedition Plan for a One-Day Exploration of the Jungle
- The objective is to discover a new species of snake.
- The Agenda and Schedule
- The journey will start at point A at 9am, reach point B by 12pm, and return to point A by 3pm. The agenda is to reach point B in the hopes of discovering a new snake in a previously unexplored area.
- Equipment will cost $100.
- Transportation will cost $500.
- Permits will cost $400.
- Food and drink will cost $150.
- First aid supplies will cost $50.
- The total estimated budget for a one-day expedition is $1,200.
- Required Equipment
- Two full meals and drink.
- First aid kit.
- Full set of spare clothes.
- Rain gear.
- Snake handling gear.
- Communication device (satellite phone).
- Communication and Transportation
- We will take an airplane to point A, and then proceed to point B and back to point A on foot. A flight will also be required home.
- We will have a satellite phone on hand at all times to communicate. We will check in every hour on the hour, to inform those necessary that we are on track.
- First Aid Procedures
- Cuts – Wash out the cut, disinfect, and wrap in a bandage.
- Broken Leg – Set the leg if necessary, wrap with a splint, seek medical attention.
- Snake Bite – Wash the bite with soap and water, apply a dry compress, seek immediate medical attention.
- Pick Your Team
- Snake wrangler
- Jungle Guide
- First Aid Expert
- Ophiologist (snake scientist)
- Establish Record-Keeping Procedures
- The journey will be recorded using individual cameras.
- All paper documents are to be kept in a waterproof bag.
Next up, be sure to follow the Sweet Sixteen of BSA safety on any adventures you embark on. Otherwise, you could get hurt, lost, or worse. But, “what are the Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety?” you might wonder. Great Question! Here they are…
The Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety
The Boy Scouts of America have the BSA safety procedures. These are 16 points of emphasis that the Boy Scouts of America identify as critical for maintaining a healthy and safe Scouting experience. There is perhaps no more important time to know these rules than when you’re on an expedition!
After all, exploring a new and uncharted area comes with many unforeseeable risks. Therefore, following all safety procedures will help mitigate as many of those risks and threats as possible. Here are all sixteen points to help you stay safe and healthy while you explore:
- Qualified Supervision: All activities should be supervised by trained and qualified adult leaders.
- Physical Fitness: Scouts and leaders should have the appropriate level of physical fitness for the activity.
- Buddy System: The buddy system should always be used to ensure that no one is ever alone or without assistance.
- Safe Area and Equipment: Activities should be conducted in safe areas with the proper equipment and gear.
- Personal Safety Equipment: Scouts and leaders should use appropriate safety gear and equipment for the activity, such as helmets, life jackets, or seat belts.
- Safety Procedures and Policies: Follow the safety guidelines and policies of the BSA and other organizations when applicable.
- Skill Level Limits: Participants should operate within their skill level and knowledge. Avoid activities that exceed their abilities.
- Weather Check: Keep a close eye on weather conditions and be prepared to postpone or cancel activities if weather poses a risk.
- Planning: Adequate planning should precede any activity, including an emergency plan.
- Communications: Ensure that reliable communication methods are in place for all participants.
- Discipline: Maintain discipline and follow the rules and procedures established for the activity.
- Qualified Supervision (Varied Activities): For certain activities like swimming and climbing, specialized and certified supervision is necessary.
- Conservation: Protect the environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles and caring for natural resources.
- First Aid: Have individuals trained in first aid available to address injuries or illnesses.
- Examination of Program Equipment: Regularly inspect and maintain program equipment to ensure it’s in good working condition.
- Program Hazards: Be aware of potential hazards specific to the program or activity, and take steps to mitigate those risks.
8) Go on an Expedition. Complete the following:
8a) With your parent’s permission and under the supervision of your merit badge counselor or a counselor-approved qualified person, use the planning steps you learned in requirement 6 and the preparations you completed in requirement 7 to personally undertake an actual expedition to an area you have not previously explored.
Before undertaking any exploration adventure, always make sure that you are being supervised by a merit badge counselor or a qualified individual. You also need to have your parents’ permission! As a Scout, you are likely still underage, which means that this activity is not something you are allowed to do without authorization.
Now it’s time for you to use all of the knowledge you’ve learned and go on an actual expedition! We used the example of a jungle expedition, but make sure your plan is specific to the area you want to explore. Using the plan that you so thoroughly put together, you can now go on an exploration journey in your local area!
8b) Discuss with your counselor what is outdoor ethics and its role in exploration and enjoying the outdoors responsibly.
As a Scout, one of your main goals should be to preserve nature. The goal here is for you to explore and to gather evidence, not to destroy the world around you. The point isn’t for you to start taking home animals and other objects out of the wild! 😛
There are some principles known as outdoor ethics which should guide the way that you function on your journey. One of the main guiding principles here is the Outdoor Code, and in particular the leave no trace principle, which means that essentially you don’t disturb the world around you as you explore. Here are some rules to keep in mind:
- It is your responsibility to tread lightly, so you don’t cause a lot of damage to the ground below you, such as from heavy wheels.
- Always have respect for wildlife and animals. Don’t feed wild animals, maintain safe distances, and don’t injure or kill anything.
- Your goal is to preserve historical and cultural locations, so always respect historical sites and artifacts.
- Never leave trash or litter behind.
- If you are to engage in fishing and hunting, do so sustainably, ethically, and responsibly.
- Always minimize the impact of fires whenever possible. Always follow proper fire making procedures for making fires in the wild.
- Always leave it where you found it. Your goal is to gather information, not objects.
Want to learn more about leaving no trace? Check out this video (5:44) for more information about these important principles. Especially while exploring, we need to do our best to preserve the awesomeness of nature!
8c) After you return, compile a report on the results of your expedition and how you accomplished your objective(s). Include a statement of the objectives, note your findings and observations, include photos, note any discoveries, report any problems or adverse events, and have a conclusion (whether you reached your objective or not). The post-expedition report must be at least one page and no more than three; one page can be photos, graphs, or figures.
The final part of your adventuring and exploration process is to compile a detailed report. Every good adventurer and scientist always creates a report. After all, this is how you share your information with others! A real-life expedition report might look something like the following:
Title: Expedition Report: Discovering a New Snake Species in the Amazon Rainforest
Author: John Dangerson
Affiliation: Wilderness Explorers Guild
This report documents the findings and experiences of an expedition to the Amazon rainforest with the primary goal of discovering a new snake species. The expedition team explored diverse ecosystems, conducted scientific surveys, and collected specimens to further our understanding of the biodiversity of this remote and biologically rich region.
The Amazon rainforest, renowned for its extraordinary biodiversity, remains one of the least explored ecosystems on Earth. The primary objective of our expedition was to contribute to the field of herpetology by discovering a previously undocumented snake species. Our team, consisting of researchers, herpetologists, and experienced guides, embarked on this scientific journey to document the Amazon’s hidden treasures.
Location Selection: After extensive research and consultations with local experts, we selected the remote region of the Amazon basin as our base of operations. The choice was based on its pristine habitat and the presence of unexplored areas.
Field Surveys: Our team conducted daily field surveys, including snake transects and night surveys, to locate and document snake species. We utilized GPS coordinates to record the exact locations of sightings.
Specimen Collection: Whenever possible, specimens were carefully captured using humane techniques, photographed, and documented before release. A subset of specimens was collected for further analysis.
Habitat Analysis: We documented the specific habitats where snake sightings occurred, noting temperature, humidity, and vegetation types to better understand the ecological niches of the snakes encountered.
Data Management: All data, including photographs, GPS coordinates, and habitat information, were meticulously recorded in field notebooks and digital databases.
During our expedition, we made several noteworthy discoveries:
Identification of a Potential New Species: We encountered a snake species that appeared to be previously undescribed in scientific literature. This discovery has the potential to be a new species, pending further genetic analysis and taxonomic investigation.
Documentation of Known Species: In addition to the potential new species, we recorded sightings of numerous known snake species, contributing to our understanding of their distribution within the region.
Habitat Diversity: Our observations indicated a high degree of habitat diversity, with different snake species preferring specific microenvironments within the rainforest.
The potential discovery of a new snake species underscores the importance of continued exploration and conservation efforts in the Amazon rainforest. Further genetic analysis, morphological studies, and peer review will be necessary to confirm the new species’ validity.
Our findings also highlight the need for conservation measures to protect these unique habitats and the biodiversity they harbor. It is crucial to work collaboratively with local communities and authorities to ensure the long-term preservation of this invaluable ecosystem.
The expedition to the Amazon rainforest was a significant step toward expanding our knowledge of its snake biodiversity. While the potential discovery of a new snake species is a remarkable achievement, it also emphasizes the urgent need to protect and conserve this fragile ecosystem for future generations.
This expedition report serves as a valuable contribution to the scientific community and underscores the importance of ongoing research and exploration in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions.
9) Career Opportunities. Identify three career opportunities in exploration. Pick one and explain to your counselor how to prepare for such a career. Discuss what education and training are required, and why this profession might interest you.
One really cool thing about exploration is that it provides you with many career opportunities. Learning all of the skills you need for exploration as a Scout could help prepare you for your future career! So, the final step here is to identify three different career opportunities that have to do with exploration.
Three examples could be:
- Marine Biologist
- Cave Explorer
Now that you know what sort of career opportunities there are, you need to know how you will prepare to enter that field of study! This means knowing what kind of education and training you need.
So, what do you need to become a marine biologist?
- The right high school education, particularly science and math courses.
- A bachelor’s degree in marine biology, marine science, biology, or a related field.
- You’ll need to build strong laboratory and field research skills.
- If possible, you’ll also want to pursue a master’s degree or even a Ph.D.
- You’ll need to gain research experience and attend conferences to present your research.
- Marine biology is a broad field, so you’ll need to develop a specialization, such as marine conservation.
- You can first seek entry level positions, and then work your way up in the industry.
At the end of it all, you should be able to say why that particular profession — in this case, marine biologist — interests you. After all, there isn’t much point in going into a profession if you know beforehand that you’re not going to enjoy it!
There you have it: a complete guide to the Exploration merit badge! So many of us started Scouting because we wanted adventures, and this badge is a great way to have one. I hope this guide helped you to have a safe, fun, and legendary expedition that brings you one step closer to Eagle!
Also, if you’re interested in the difficulty rankings for every Eagle-required merit badge, you can check out my full guide here! PS: The article also links to my other ultimate badge guides that’ll help you complete your merit badge worksheets.
I hope you’ve found my guide helpful, and hope that it helped you to answer each requirement on your merit badge worksheet. Share this with your fellow Scouts, and use it as a reference if you ever need a refresher on expedition planning. Thanks for reading! Come back soon and, until next time, I’m wishing you all the best on your Scouting journey! 🙂