Although the Scout Association has twice changed the name given to the section following Sea Scouts, the general idea of Senior Sea Scouts, Venture Sea Scouts and Explorer Sea Scouts has remained the same, to provide an adventurous climate in which young people may be helped to become resourceful and responsible adults whilst also having fun. The current age range is 14 to 18 but in Ajax, members of the Sea Scout Troop typically progress to the Explorer Sea Scout Unit nearer to their 15th birthday so as still to be Patrol Leaders in the Troop at an age when their experience ashore and afloat is really beneficial to the younger members.
In the early days, the Senior Sea Scouts went on camps to France and Spain and experienced mountain walking in Austria and sailing on Lake Windermere. However, since the 1960s the Explorer Sea Scout Unit has usually joined the Sea Scout Troop for summer camps. However, a return visit was made for a week of mountain walking in the Austrian Alps in 2013 sponsored by the Austrian Alpine Club and hopefully, there will be more trips like this in the not too distant future.
In September 2016 seven Ajax Explorers plus two from 1st Surbiton ‘Sealion’ took part in an expedition on Loch Lomond for their Duke of Edinburgh Gold. The expedition was undertaken under oars and under sail using the two Ajax gigs PYMBS and Norge. Our seven were Katy Rutherford, Miky and Callum Davison, Lauren Thompson-Chisnell, Dane Wilson, Charlie Johnson and Henry Carrow. This marked the culmination of a sustained effort led by Diane Davison and Nick Barber to get the Ajax DoE programme fully up and running.
Each year, to put their training to the test, the Explorer Unit usually enters a gig crew in the Great River Race, which takes place on the tidal Thames from Greenwich to Ham. The race is 22 miles and many different types of craft from skiffs to dragon boats take part. It is an experience that all those who participate will unquestionably remember for the rest of their lives.
George Barber’s elder son Nick is currently Explorer Sea Scout Leader and very much enjoying the role. Highlights for him have included taking part in the Four Inns Walk and a week of off-shore sailing on the Rona Sailing Project’s ‘Donald Searle’ with members of the Unit and Peter Wadsworth, as the Mate.
This is an edited excerpt of George Barber’s “70 Years of Ajax and 65 Years an Ajaccio”, first published in the 2018 Ajax Group Annual Report