What's What - The BlueDome guide to outdoor qualifications

Overseas Expedition Leading

The Expedition Industry is growing rapidly with more volunteers and students from all over the country wanting to get overseas to work on a worthwhile project or take a career sabbatical to join an exciting expedition. The benefits to young and old people participating on these overseas adventures are well recognised by universities and employers all over the country. Constant references to ‘more confidence, a good team worker, he/she really came out of her shell’ are all familiar feedbacks that you hear from families and employers alike.

Having an opportunity to lead a project or expedition team overseas is fast becoming an incredibly popular career path for many people wanting to combine a love of the outdoors, an enjoyment of teaching younger, eager minds and a chance to do something long lasting and of benefit to overseas communities and environments.

Quest Overseas are a leading Project and Expedition Company responsible for sending up to 300 student volunteers a year to their rewarding projects and expeditions all over Africa and South America. The teams consist of 16 volunteers lead by an Expedition Leader and an Assistant Leader. The Assistant Leader position is an excellent way to start working with Quest Overseas, it is fully supported and they receive a small salary for the role but it is understood that the Assistant is ‘shadowing’ the Expedition Leader to learn the ropes and eventually hope to be promoted to Expedition Leader for the following season.

Quest Overseas leaders go through a selection and interview day as well as two training weekends before they leave the UK to lead a team. Once on the ground they receive in country training and have time to acclimatise and meet local project partners before their team arrives. All flights, insurance and on the ground expenses are covered with a generous wage received on completion of the project. In return for this the leaders are expected to be highly organised, professional, capable of managing budgets, sympathetic to young peoples needs, capable of working with the local project partners and charities, speak the local language (where appropriate) and inspire the volunteers to achieve the aims of the expedition.

As a Leader you could find yourself managing the construction of a school on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, organising football matches for a stream of Peruvian shanty town kids, building sand dams to prevent further drought and famine occurring in the poorest parts of Kenya, walking a puma while it rehabilitates after being rescued from an illegal trader, planting hundreds of trees to counteract deforestation damage in the Amazon basin or simply listening to a volunteer who may be homesick.

It is, however, important to stress that things can go wrong. A volunteer can fall and snap a leg, another could get badly burnt, a serious emotional problem might crop up, your team may be involved in a bus crash, hijacking or armed robbery or someone may just have their documents stolen. It is essential for you to consider your capabilities and reactions to these types of practical and medical situations before you take on the responsibilities of becoming a leader. If you are slightly hesitant at having to deal with the potential down sides of being a leader in a foreign country then look elsewhere. Overseas Expedition Leading is NOT a cushy job; it is rewarding, challenging and a hell of a lot of fun but it is NOT a free ticket overseas and you should be aware of the high level of responsibility you have for the safety or your team, your host country and yourself.

If, reading the above, makes you even more excited about leading a team overseas then you should apply as a project or expedition leader to Quest Overseas and go along to the next Staff Selection Day. Applications are accepted all year round for expeditions departing either January-April or July-August.

All details for joining Quest Overseas can be found on their website www.questoverseas.com or on their job shop site at www.questoverseas.com/jobs also visit the BlueDome jobs section for Quest Overseas posts.

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