Explore the world, like this Eagle Scout does, using the 2025 Almanac from National Geographic

We are likely living in the greatest age of exploration.

With the advent of powerful technology and the ease to access a wealth of information, Distinguished Eagle Scout Lee Berger believes we can discover the world like never before.

“An explorer goes into places both familiar and unfamiliar to understand what others have not,” the award-winning researcher and paleoanthropologist says. “We haven’t scratched the surface.”

Equipped with a healthy breadth of knowledge, like what Scouting and National Geographic Kids teach, young people can be on the forefront of new, exciting discoveries.

Expedition inspiration

New from National Geographic Kids, the 2025 Almanac is jam-packed with incredible photos, fun facts, crafts, activities, and features on science, nature, technology, and conservation. Some features highlight Berger, specifically his career as a paleoanthropologist and his ongoing, groundbreaking discovery of early hominid remains in a South African cave system.

These remains, named Homo naledi, belonged to a small-brained species that showed possible signs of a complex life, like making fire, creating engravings, and burying their dead. The expedition, which began in 2013, has been spotlighted in a Netflix documentary and a PBS NOVA film.

He and his team crawled through long shafts, some only 8 to 12 inches wide, to find the largest assembly of ancient hominids in Africa. They recognized the remains differed from what scientists thought they knew about hominids’ species timeline.

Studying an extinct species calls for a sense of wonder and inquisitiveness, Berger says.

“An important thing I have learned is the idea of thinking like a young person,” Berger says. “Young people look at the world and want to understand what they’re seeing. Adults think they know what they’re seeing so they never ask.”

Berger learned this quality, along with leadership and teamwork skills, from being in Troop 341 of Sylvania, Ga. Taking the Archaeology merit badge also opened Berger’s eyes to his eventual career field.

“Scouting was a powerful experience; I stayed with it the whole way to Eagle Scout,” he says. “Those skills I now use on a daily basis.”

That includes practical skills like building latrines and tying knots.

“You’re going to be hanging on a rope underground,” he says. “If that knot doesn’t hold, you die.”

He stayed with Scouting as an adult, lending his expertise, along with expedition medicine consultant Michael Manyak, Eagle Scout and cave explorer Bill Steele and astronaut Scott Parazynski, to pen the Exploration merit badge pamphlet. Berger has also spoken at the World Scout Jamboree.

He later was named a National Geographic Explorer in Residence.

The world at your fingertips

The 2025 Almanac can guide curious kids in cultivating their sense of adventure. It’s filled with recent trailblazing discoveries, like finding water on Mars in 2008 or dinosaurs’ color patterns in 2010. It also highlights Berger and his team’s discoveries on the possible cultural habits of Homo naledi.

It also includes practical reference material, including fast facts and maps of every country. Homework help on key topics is sprinkled throughout the book. You can get your copy of the 2025 Almanac ($15.99 paperback, $25.99 hardback) at Amazon or other bookstores.

Berger says the book helps you to live an “encyclopedia life” – if you don’t know something, you can use it to look it up.

“Live every moment like an explorer,” Berger says. “Use tools like Scouting and the Almanac for the way they are intended: to increase your understanding.”

Scouts can participate in this year’s National Geographic Kids Almanac Challenge, inspired by Lee Berger’s work. If a future explorer discovered your house, what could they learn about you from the objects they find? Get all the details here.

About Michael Freeman 446 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is an associate editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines.