TEENAGE scouts from Morpeth and Ponteland are looking forward to a challenging Eastern European adventure.
A contingent of 15 from the Castle Morpeth scouting district will soon embark on a 100-mile, 10-day walking expedition across the Crimea region of the Ukraine to meet the demanding requirements of the Scouting Explorer Belt award.
They will fly to Kiev on Wednesday and then use the sleeper train to get to Sevastopol in the Crimea.
As well as trekking, the young people will engage with local communities and take part in a community project. They will also complete a number of challenges to learn about the way of life and culture of the country.
During this time, the Explorer Scouts will work side-by-side with some of their Ukrainian scout contemporaries.
They have undergone a range of training sessions to help prepare them for what lies ahead, such as river crossing and tick removal, and carried out many fundraising activities as each person taking part had to raise £975.
Morpeth Explorer Scout Chris Rich, 17, said: “We chose Crimea mainly because of its interesting history, but also the trek will be a decent challenge and we will experience a very different culture.
“We will have to start early on most days of the expedition and we’re told it will get very hot, which means we will need to stop for a couple of hours at lunchtime. But despite this, we’re all looking forward to it and we can’t wait to get out there. Our training has included getting to grips with navigation using GPS because Ukraine operates on a co-ordinates system.
“We will get to visit some landmarks and stay with the Ukrainian scouts’ families at the end of the trip, which will give us a chance to get to know them well and observe their way of life.”
As part of the Explorer Belt award, the group will keep a diary of their stay and do presentations when they return.
English is rarely spoken so some of them are busy learning Russian, which is spoken widely in the Crimea region.
Another Morpeth Explorer Scout going on the expedition, 16-year-old Daniel Smith, said: “Learning a bit of Russian has been difficult, but very interesting. The alphabet is completely different, there are more than 26 letters, and we’ve worked hard on pronunciation so that we can be understood by local people.
“We signed up for the trip about a year ago and since then we have done lots of fundraising activities, including bag packing at supermarkets, race nights, meals and operating the car park at the Dyke Neuk show and we’ve also sold snowdrops and cakes at events and the end of church services in St Robert’s.”
Northumberland Scout Leaders have been working closely with their counterparts in the Ukraine to set up expedition routes and local logistics.
District Commissioner for Castle Morpeth Scouts Clive Rich said: “Our Explorers have done a lot of training, preparation and fund-raising for this event and I’m certain that it will be a great and memorable experience for them in many ways.
“Thanks to everyone in Morpeth and Ponteland who have supported them in their fund-raising efforts.”
For details about the group’s activities, visit www.castlemorpethscouts.org.uk/crimea