Herts & Bucks Wing

  Adventure Training Group


BELA: frequently asked questions

Who runs BELA?

The Basic Expedition Leader Award was launched in 1988 and is administered by the British Sports Trust (BST). Responsibility for running courses is franchised to an approved operating authority such as a voluntary youth organisation, a local education authority or a college. The operating authority must appoint a course director who needs to hold a minimum of the Summer Mountain Leaders Award

The course programme, training locations and training resources must be approved by the BST before the course can be run

Who can do it?

Candidates can start training after their 17th birthday, but must be 18 to receive the award.

What does it cover?

The syllabus of the Basic Expedition Leader Award is divided into ten units. These units are concerned not only with with technical competence, but also with leadership, party management and instructional skills.  Care and concern for the countryside also permeates all aspects of the Award.

Leadership and Party Management
Instructional and Organisational Method
Planning and Preparation
Conservation and Access
Living Out-of-doors
First Aid and Emergencies ** see note below**
Fitness and Weather
30 Hours Voluntary Leadership Experience

Note:  every candidate must hold a recognised first aid certificate before they can receive the award.

What form does the training take?

BELA training is required to be based in lowland areas, close to where the candidates are based. The course is essentially practical and the skills and techniques will be acquired by "doing" rather than by listening in a classroom wherever possible

How long does it take?

The award requires a minimum of 90 contact hours of instruction and practical work. This is followed by 30 hours of voluntary leadership experience, when the skills from training are put into practice, under supervision.

Provided that the 90 contact hours are achieved, the course director can schedule the training according to local needs, combining evening, day and weekend sessions in the way that is most convenient to the training staff and candidates. It should be possible to complete the course within a 2-3 month schedule

What does it cost?

Candidates need to pay a registration fee to the BST, and to contribute to the running costs of the course. As a rough guide, candidates should expect to pay about £50 for the course (excluding any first aid training)

How does it fit with the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme?

The Basic Expedition Leader Award is the minimum qualification required by many local authorities and operating authorities of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme to train and lead groups in the expedition section of the Bronze and Silver Awards

The Basic Expedition Leader Award also counts towards the service section at all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme

How does it fit with the Air Training Corps?

ACATI 42, section 2 of the new ACP17 (sixth edition) states:

“a) As a uniformed youth organisation undertaking many adventurous activities out-of-doors, there is a requirement that these activities are led and supervised by suitably qualified and experienced personnel. BELA is the minimum nationally recognised qualification for those who train and lead groups in expedition skills. It also provides a good foundation for those who progress to higher awards such as the Walking Group Leader (WGL) or Mountain Leader (MLTB) award

b) A large percentage of the expedition work, day journeys and green camps undertaken in the Corps fall within the scope of the award, which is attainable within one expedition season.

c) Arranging and conducting a BELA course is within the capabilities of most Wings in the Air Training Corps, and they are encouraged to do so”

To summarise, if your Squadron does navigation exercises, Duke of Edinburgh award expeditions, camping trips or green camps, you will need someone with BELA (or above) to train and supervise the cadets

How does it fit with the ML scheme?

The ML and WGL schemes are run by the Mountain Leader Training Board, and BELA by the British Sports Trust. These are two separate National Governing Bodies (NGBs), and the schemes are quite separate.

Within the ATC, completion of the one-week ML (Summer) training course is deemed equivalent to a BELA. If you have registered with the MLTB for the ML award, and have logged enough mountain experience to do the training course, you therefore have little to gain by doing BELA

If you have no intention of gaining a mountain or walking group leader award, or have not yet logged enough experience to apply for the ML or WGL training course, then BELA is for you…


      Web site by: Flt Lt Geoff Bowles RAFVR(T), ML(S), SPA                                                            This page last updated on 22 June 2004