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  1. #1
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    Expedition Challenge

    Probably one for the parents amongst you (I am still a DINKY!)

    Anyway, I have my first 4 scouts that are motivated enough, sensible enough and trained enough to do their expedition challenge. We had a good talk about it over summer camp, we came up with a weekend in October that looked good to do it before the weather got a bit chilly or days too short, came up with some outline ideas of what they should be doing etc. I suggested to them that they come back to scouts in September with some idea of what exactly they wanted to do and where on the basis that I wanted them to use a manned camp site over night and that I reserved the right to over rule anything. So far, so good.

    In the mean time I have emailed all 4 sets of parents telling them what was being planned and inviting comments and questions. The result?

    Tumbleweed.

    Now I happen to know that none of them are on holiday and 3 of the 4 sets are quite good at responding to things.

    What I suspect is that I have a group of parents who are somewhat concerned (and to be fare quite reasonably, I imagine that it is probably a little disconcerting having your kid camp without adults for the first time).

    So for all you parents out there (or leaders that have gone through this before).... what questions of both the intelligent and not so intelligent varierty am I likely to be fielding when we get back in September? (for info it is 4 year 8 girls wanting to do this. 2 will be 13 by October, 2 will still be 12) Forewarned is four armed and all that!

  2. #2
    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CambridgeSkip View Post

    In the mean time I have emailed all 4 sets of parents telling them what was being planned and inviting comments and questions. The result?

    Tumbleweed.

    Now I happen to know that none of them are on holiday and 3 of the 4 sets are quite good at responding to things.

    What I suspect is that I have a group of parents who are somewhat concerned (and to be fare quite reasonably, I imagine that it is probably a little disconcerting having your kid camp without adults for the first time).

    So for all you parents out there (or leaders that have gone through this before).... what questions of both the intelligent and not so intelligent varierty am I likely to be fielding when we get back in September? (for info it is 4 year 8 girls wanting to do this. 2 will be 13 by October, 2 will still be 12) Forewarned is four armed and all that!
    ok... we have done this. I don't make a thing of it... I set it up and it happens... maybe you have parents who are concerned... more likely... you have parents who trust you...

    when i do it, we go to a local scout camp and the warden is there to keep an eye. I look in on them but they have never done less than dazzle me with their maturity.

    I just make sure that they are trained... I teach them to map read well. i teach them how to put up hike tents, we use the stoves in the hut and cook the food as a practice...

    If the parents see that you have done it properly, they have little to worry about. I suspect that this is more a case of the parents trusting you...

    have you ever lost a child for more than half an hour or so? have you ever injured a child doing anyhting that could be perceived as dangerous (archery, shooting, climbing etc?), have you ever run a camp that nobody enjoyed? have you ever run a meeting with zero effort that was disastrous, dangerous and made the children miserable?

    course not... you are the SL and for the most part... that brings with it a large amount of trust... we are trusted to keep kids safe... and we do!

  3. #3
    Simba Ian Mallett's Avatar
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    Hi

    In the 8 years since my son joined the group I am GSL of, I'm not aware of any scouts having undertaken their Expedition Challenge. I'm not aware of many in my district who complete it either.

    My son moved to a troop in the neighbouring district and they are into serious hiking when on camp etc, but even in that troop, the only scouts who have completed the Expedition Challenge are those that have represented the troop in a local overnight Challenge Hike competition.

    I agree with Big Chris that your scout's parents trust you, but you may need to have a meeting with them to explain the purpose behind the challenge etc and see if they have any concerns or not. I doubt that they will.
    Simba (my daughter wouldn't let me be Rafiki, and now she's an explorer)
    GSL
    Birstall Scout Group
    West Yorkshire

  4. #4
    Senior Member David Kendall's Avatar
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    Expedition

    As a parent and a recently appointed SL, I can see both sides.

    Although it is frustrating that you have not had a response at least none of the parents have actually come back with any concerns as yet. That could be good or it may be that they are discussing it amongst themselves ("are you going to let your daughter go ?"; "I'm not sure about this"; "don't like the idea of my 12/13yr old doing this" etc). Before I became SL, I used to get other parents ringing me to ask if my lad was going on certain activities.

    Perhaps a good idea might be to invite the parents to a practice night where you go through the kit required, use of the stove, pitching of tent etc. Maybe overkill but then they would be involved and can see some of the training undertaken.

    I have a number of young Scouts and I am looking for them to enter the Cheshire Hike next year. I know there will be concerns (rightly so) and so will look to address via training and education (parents too).

    (To think I used to lead Patrol camps to the middle of the Lake District when I was 13 - different world then or was it ?)
    Scout Leader & Acting GSL
    1st Willaston

    http://www.cheshirescouts.org.uk/

    We are going to :- http://www.chamboree.org.uk/



    I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realised I was somebody. American Actress Lily Tomlin

  5. #5
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    Notes: Scouts must be supervised taking into account their preparation, training and level of experience. This may mean that certain legs are 'led' by young people themselves for information/ project purposes. As a minimum, supervision involves a visual check on departure and at the end of each day, and being in the area of the activity. The Scout Association Permit Scheme applies to certain land terrains and classifications of water. You can check the individual requirements of an activity by visiting the A to Z of Activities on www.scouts.org.uk. To lead a night's away experience, a young person is required to hold a Nights Away Event Passport.

    It's not essential they camp without adult leadership is it? I thought it would be more common for adult leaders to be present on site, just camping away from the Scouts?


    I don't know about the parents concerns, as a new leader that has only just got his NA permit, letting my first group of Scouts camp under a passport is going to be a pretty daunting thing. I imagine I won't sleep that weekend...
    ESL(YL) - Fylde - West Lancashire

  6. #6
    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    It's not essential they camp without adult leadership is it? I thought it would be more common for adult leaders to be present on site, just camping away from the Scouts?
    could do... but why?

    take a step or 2 back... you will need 2 adults, not one... and that is a fair old demand on the leaders' time.

    Oh... I forgot... I also put at least one member of each hike team through the Appointed person's first aid course. The trainer is happy with that and it means they have a high knowledge of first aid with them.

    So... based on the fact that they are trained to camp safely and being leaderless is a massive adventure... i would encourage leaders to get more scouts off on their own.

    Where do i struggle? I don't think I will ever run a patrol camp with y5s being looked after by y8s... that will never happen... on the other hand, i am happy for y8s and y9s to camp off by themselves... that is fun and exciting oh... and it is safe.

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    The Following Was Added to the post within 60 minutes of posting the above
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    I don't know about the parents concerns, as a new leader that has only just got his NA permit, letting my first group of Scouts camp under a passport is going to be a pretty daunting thing. I imagine I won't sleep that weekend...
    give it a while and you'll learn that scouts don;t let you down when it matters. They always behave at remembrance day, they always charm the grannies at fundraisers, they always look out for each other when they get freedom to roam a seafront.*

    last time i did this, i looked in for a few minutes and they were so sorted it was daft. They had their tents up, they were cozy and warm, they had a lovely fire and a woddpile (scouts never build woodpiles when you tell them to.) Their food was cooking and they were thinking about going to bed. I was only there for an instant and i could have done it by phone (in theory)... it was a very heartwarming scene.

    If you don;t give your scouts the chance to succeed (or fail), you will never get that sense of pride from their ability.

    *NB. i'm not smug... i pull scrapping scouts apart far too often for my liking, i have nasty little oiks that bully and i have had scouts steal money from each other... and more... they just don't do it when it really matters...
    Last edited by big chris; 16-08-2010 at 12:12 PM. Reason: Merged Double Post

  7. #7
    Senior Member David Kendall's Avatar
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    Expedition

    Bigchris - fully agree.

    CambridgeSkip needs to find out why his normally responsive parents and not communicating with him. This activity will be good for the Scouts - just need to make sure everyone is happy with it.

    Seeing the Scouts set off, perhaps meeting them for lunch, visiting the campsite for a couple of hours in the evening and being available by phone may give reassurance to nervous parents.

    Once they have done it once the parents will be so proud and more keen next time.
    Last edited by David Kendall; 16-08-2010 at 12:10 PM. Reason: Added more
    Scout Leader & Acting GSL
    1st Willaston

    http://www.cheshirescouts.org.uk/

    We are going to :- http://www.chamboree.org.uk/



    I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realised I was somebody. American Actress Lily Tomlin

  8. #8
    SL 1st Histon gregharewood's Avatar
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    Listen Carefully, for I shall give of my wisdom :p

    The most important thing to understand is this... the parents won't tell you their concerns, they will quietly fester, and they will pull their kids out at the last minute and mess everything up.


    I would recommend that you run a parents evening - just for those 4 if necessary*, where 2-3 Scouters (united front), 4 hikers and 8ish parents go rapidly through....

    - kit
    - emergency aid syllabus (though not details)
    - menu
    - timings and logistics
    - rules, contact, etc
    - route. most importantly, route

    If the parents don't complain about something then they're not being open with you and will pull their kid out later with no opportunity to discuss it. You've done well if you can find some pain points and have an active negotiation. These will include...

    - site supervision
    - aspects of route, road crossings, check-ins if any
    - contact procedures, mobile phone etc
    - checking on them (standard single physical check in at night should be fine)
    - how much they have to carry. unless they are very small, you should still be able to have them carry all their kit for one night.
    - equipment they have to buy... offer to loan stuff
    - acceptable weather conditions etc


    I have had parents crying before. And that's WHY it works. Without it, they each feel isolated and strong-armed, and will retake control over their child in the only reasonable way, by withdrawing them. With a parents evening, you make it into a dialogue and can find the compromise that works.

    In future years, I would recommend that you don't tell the parents the details before the open evening. For some of them, if you tell them on email that their kid is going to be out without supervision, they will simply dismiss the whole thing and not even come to the evening, and you have fallen at the first hurdle. Also, for future use, I strongly recommend sending your incoming 10yo Scouts on a day hike with peers, usually in their first Summer. It breaks the back of it all with parents and creates a progression. You will go through the same process even at this level of negotiating a route and level of supervision (checkpoints or phone or a tail - or none).

    Hope this helps a little :-)

    G

    PS.... and since you're in Cambridge, I can always send you one of my recent hiking teams to talk to the girls and the parents. If you like :-)

    ---
    *I like to do one around Easter with all parents to kick off the hiking season

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    The Following Was Added to the post within 60 minutes of posting the above
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    Quote Originally Posted by big chris View Post
    ok... we have done this. I don't make a thing of it... I set it up and it happens... maybe you have parents who are concerned... more likely... you have parents who trust you......
    The problem is that you are trying to raise the game. The SECOND year that you do this will be much easier because parents talk to each other. First time around it can be harder. Especially with y7/y8 kids. It is important to engage with the parents in a very pro-active way.
    Last edited by gregharewood; 16-08-2010 at 12:38 PM. Reason: Merged Double Post

  9. #9
    ADC Mallah's Avatar
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    I incorporate the Expedition Challenge into the annual camp and everyone takes part, even the Y6s, as there is no age limit on the challenge.
    It helps to have a meeting to discuss the event, and this is part of the overall meeting I have before the camp where I explain that our regular evening meetings are designed to give them the skills they need to undertake the hike etc i.e. map work, day and night hikes, etc.... I also point out that they are walking with both shelter and food so if they do get lost they have the two main necessities.
    One other tip is to give the scouts a series of questions that they have to find and answer along a route. This effectively dictates the route THEY plan and with carefully positioned clues will avoid any nasty cliffs etc.
    I've actually been running this on my annual camps since 1985, and it helps today to have the SA formalise it with the Expedition Challenge. If nothing else remember to take a print out of the requirements, and highlight that the expecattion is that they do it without adults present.
    By the way, some of mine set off looking a bit worried, but return looking so self confident it certainly marks a change in their abilities.
    Good luck

  10. #10
    SL 1st Histon gregharewood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Kendall View Post
    ...
    (To think I used to lead Patrol camps to the middle of the Lake District when I was 13 - different world then or was it ?)
    No.___

  11. #11
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    Big Chris - I am definitely working towards that! I've already had some success so I know how it feels to train them and trust them.

    But in the meantime the fact we are still a new Troop means that the level of "...preparation, training and experience..." of my Scouts means I wouldn't be writing passports for any of my Scouts for a while yet because I feel supervision is necessary.

    I've heard it said the Expedition Challenge is one of the hardest challenges to run. My point is if it's the passport and camping unsupervised that is stopping new SLs running the Expedition Challenge then it shouldn't as the camping can be loosely supervised if the Scouts (or the training programme) isn't quite there yet.

    My experience was that Scouts still had a proper adventure and some of the leaders came away a little bit wiser too. I would advise any leader running their first expedition camp to err on the side of caution and build their experience up before thinking they can pass judgement on their Scouts abilities
    ESL(YL) - Fylde - West Lancashire

  12. #12
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    Wow, thanks for all the rapid responses!

    First while I know that the trip doesn't have to be unsupervised I am firmly with Bigchris in that I think if at all possible it should be, that way the kids will get the most out of it. Otherwise it's not that far removed from being a more normal camp.

    It's interesting to hear differing opinions and experiences and I think that some form of evening getting parents in may well be the way forward, certainly I don't want any worries festering amongs them.

  13. #13
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    I was a SL before the change in programme (I got to go to all the fabulous bum-numbing launch sessions about it though!) so I'm not quite sure what teh "Expedition challenge" is, but one thing we used to do was wean the parents (and kids!) off direct suprvision gradually.

    First we did a Troop/Patrol hike (originally we were a small troop, as we got bigger we took one or 2 patrols at a time),
    Then we did a hike where my ASL and I met them at every point on the walk where it was possible to go wrong (which involved a lot of frantic text messages between me and my ASL, along with some mad car dashes to get from point to point! Lol!)
    The final stage was to set them off and meet them at the finish.

    After that they were on their own, with our mobile numbers and a phone card (I think at the time only 1 lad had his own mobile!) in case of emergency.

    Don't know if it would still work? Obviously being pre-programme change I still had 15yr old PLs, and I had 2 really good ones who went on to run their own sections.
    AM

  14. #14
    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    We have done ours by river from scout camp for a number of years - especially when at longridge. 2 good site, up stream and down. Train the kids, provide visits. Also with younger ones may have some less obvious checks in place - eg checkpoints they dont see.

    As Chris says, they very rarely let you down and the sense of achievement....

    We also do it seperately during the year - I can definately concern that the first is the worse - after that it is "normal"

    Rich
    p.s. who fondly remembers such expeditions and camps as a kid.

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