Tag Archives: group

Planning a Bushwalk | Using the Web to Share and Store Information Pt 1

How can bushwalkers share information? How can shared information be kept up-to-date?  Have you ever tried to set up an emergency and personal contacts list for a multi-day hike? Tried to get consensus on a route plan? Wanted to share maps, trip intention forms, routes or other documents?

In a recent post, Searching for Bushwalking Information on the Web | Search Engines and Social Bookmarking , I suggested that a free Google account was a good way to to find information using web tools such as Google Alerts and that the social bookmarking site Delicious was in some ways better than a web search using Google or one of the other alternatives. These are both web tools and the second is designated a web 2.0 tool as it involves a high level of interactivity and sharing of information.

One way, of course, is to have everyone email you their emergency and personal contacts and then circulate a master list by email.  This works to some extent, but you can spend a lot of time resending the master contact list every time someone changes a phone number or their NOK! How do you know  that everyone has updated the master contact list and given the correct list to everyone who needs a copy?

One way is to place your list in the “cloud” eg Google Docs so that only one list exists and this is always the latest. You can give those in your group read/write access and they can update their own details as required. Then you just give people who need a copy a web link to the master list or if you must,  print the only copy immediately before your departure. If you are separated from your luggage and have a smart phone or access to an internet cafe where you can browse the web, then this list is immediately available. Your Club’s Safety Officer will always have up-to-date access, too.

If you have a consensus leader, then your route plan will be a joint effort. Each change will of course necessitate sending out a revised version and before long you will have so many versions no one will know which is the latest unless of course you are highly organised and use version control. Why not have just one version in Google Docs and keep this version current?

Want to share maps or other documents then use one of the web storage sites where essential docs can be uploaded by one person and then downloaded by everyone in the group who needs a copy. Of course, you could simply send a copy to everyone in the group by email, which is how we used to do it. However, files sizes for maps and pdfs are often huge, making this method largely unworkable for most walker’s mail systems.

Part 2 of this posting will give specific examples of websites and web 2.0 tools which you can try.

For more info check out my other posts:
Web 2.0

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Bushwalk Leadership Training | How to Change a Club’s Training Culture

How do you change the Club culture? How do you encourage leaders to improve their skills? Should leaders be required to under take some training each year to retain their leadership “accreditation”?  What sort of training would be appropriate?

It would be rather presumptuous of me to suggest that there is only one answer to this complex problem, which has troubled many a Club’s Training and Safety Officer. Any solution will however need to recognise that this will be a significant change for many Club members and hence to be successful will involve proven change-management techniques.

No doubt any possible solution will include at least some of the following:

  • recognition by Club members that the Club’s leadership skills need to be improved.
  • belief in the need for training by the Club Committee, followed by adequate consultation to design the program and then promotion by prominent Committee members.
  • commencement with a small and carefully selected program which will be acceptable to leaders and can be successfully completed by all
  • involvement of respected “elders” in the Club, both as instructors and participants
  • recognition of those who have participated in, and provided, the training
  • awareness raising by having one of the participants outline what they learned at a Club meeting or newsletter

An annual accreditation requirement could be used to encourage  participation in leadership training, but this needs to be delicately handled to avoid putting “experienced” leaders offside. Leaders could be expected to gain a minimum of 10 points per year  (equivalent to 6 hrs training) to retain their leadership “credentials”.

Some non-threatening examples could be:

  • Senior First Aid Refresher  (10 pts)
  • GPS use (2 pts)
  • PLB use (2 pts)
  • Pre-trip planning ( 2-5 pts)
  • Stove types, use and maintenance (2 pts)
  • Dehydrator use and menus (2 pts)
  • Navigation refresher ( 5-10 points)
  • Ultra-lightweight backpacking ( 2 pts)
  • Lightweight cooking and menus ( 2-5 pts)

For those who want some more theoretical training

The accreditation requirement (10 pts)  should be incorporated into an annual  Leadership Training Weekend, with topics being rotated from year to year.

To make the process less threatening, some of this training could be carried out by “expert” Club mentors during Club walks or on a one-to-one basis. It should be possible in each Club to establish a list of “go-to” people who would be willing to make themselves available for specific skills training. Leaders who were prepared to give training sessions for other leaders could be credited with double the number of points that a participant would gain.

Some Clubs have a policy of subsidizing leaders who attend accredited training courses, if they are willing to pass on the knowledge and skills they have learnt. This not only encourages participation in training in a positive way but shows that the Club values training and this is an important step in changing a Club culture which is less than enthusiastic about the importance of training.

View other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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Bushwalk Leadership Training | The Need for a Change in Club Culture

Which skills do Club bushwalk leaders sometimes lack? Why is there often a Club “anti-training” culture?

Over the years I have walked with many different bushwalk leaders and from each I have learnt new bushwalking skills. Sometimes I have noticed contradictions, but there is rarely the opportunity to question and if there is, it is sometimes difficult not to offend, appear to challenge the status quo or appear critical.

Formal bushwalk training, undertaken through organisations such as Bushwalking Leadership SA, actually encourages and expects participants to ask questions. The presenters welcome people challenging their ideas and because of their active involvement in leadership training are aware of differences in techniques and are able to offer alternatives, based on their own experience and that of others.

In my experience, many Club leaders sometimes have limited skills in group management and don’t see there is any need to develop them. They often believe that they are leading a group of peers who are able to look after themselves. They fail to recognise that most Club walks have new members who need to be made welcome and integrated into the group if they are to remain Club members. They fail to recognise that often walks have “dependents”, who despite their maturity, are inexperienced in terms of bushwalking skills and need to be actively “supported”. They often fail to accept, that as the “leader”, their personal needs become subservient to the group as a whole.

Have you ever walked in a group where the leader is at the front, sometimes a long way in front, and is oblivious to the needs of the unfit “newbies” struggling at the back, with their overweight packs? If they are aware, have they offered to redistribute equipment so the group as a whole can make more rapid progress? Have you often worried, as “tail-end-charlie”, which way the group has gone at the intersection and wondered why the leader didn’t wait until everyone had arrived before moving off. Have you ever arrived last at a group break and found that instead of the 10 minutes everyone else got, that you got just 3 mins?

Have you ever watched an inexperienced or unskilled leader waiting for the group to assemble at the predetermined start time? How do they treat the “new member” who has failed to allocate sufficient time in the morning to get gear packed, have breakfast and attend to personal hygiene? Do they offer to help personally, assign someone who is already packed to help or do they stand there impatiently and then make comments about the “regrettable” late start?

Risk management skills are often intuitive among bushwalk leaders. They have often learnt over many years, usually by trial-and-error, what dangers there are in particular locations and at particular times of the year. This works fine provided they don’t venture outside of their “known world”, but do they have the knowledge and skills to cope if the circumstances fall outside their personal experience?

Some Club bushwalk leaders would see any attempt to encourage them to attend training courses as a criticism of their leadership credentials and therefore a personal attack. Some are blissfully unaware of the potential risks of their leadership style while others would see their attendance at a training course as an admission that they have something still to learn and a reflection on their status as a “Club elder”.

Fortunately, there are many others who see their bushwalking “careers” as a continual learning experience, who are open to new ideas and are aware of their role and obligations as bushwalk leaders.

The task is to convince the less enthusiastic  leaders that there are still things to learn which will make Club walks more enjoyable for everyone.

Visit other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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Who cares if you enjoy your Club walk?

Bushwalking Group

Have you ever struggled unnoticed at the back of a walking group? Did you ever wish the leader would stop for a break?

Perhaps this was you first walk with a heavy pack, you’ve had a late night, have sore feet, new boots, pack not adjusted correctly or that old knee problem has come back to haunt you.

Did anyone ask you how you were going or offer to help? Did anyone walk with you so you weren’t on your own? Did anyone offer to lighten your load? Did the leader ask you to move to the front of the group where your progress could be watched?

Well if they did, you had a good leader and /or a compassionate ” tail-end-charlie” or “whip”.  In my opinion, one of the roles of the leader is to ensure that everyone enjoys themselves and finishes the walk having achieved some of their goals.This may require that the leader, or someone who has been delegated, takes an interest in your welfare.

Most walking clubs want to increase membership, yet some leaders treat their new members with a complete lack of interest.  You are old enough to look after yourself they say.

But are you really able to look after yourself? Do they really care that you are enjoying your walk or are they really there only for themselves?

Sometimes I think it’s the latter and this is reinforced when they surge to the front,  leaving the rest of the group spread out over hundreds of metres.  If they do stop for the group to catch up, do they move off again as soon as you arrive, leaving you no opportunity to rest? Sometimes they even forget to reestablish the group at each intersection, before moving on; quite an dangerous mistake.

How do they know that everyone is with the group? Can they see or hear those at the back of the group? Do they really care?

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