DofE 2015: ‘Tanter’

17 to 22°C. Light rain to sun.
Twelve groups of whom 8 failed their first practice expedition. They were terrible, with fairly minor problems they simply gave up. Navigation was a common problem and panic set in with little warning. All groups had to head broadly north to meet the return coach. One group went West and immediately phoned home to say they were lost. They gave their location, the name of a farm and expected rescue from the minibus.
Another group went south, passed the big sign for Worcester, and kept going!
There were more reasons and we staff spent many hours soul searching and analysing.
Heuristics is the study of decision making. In other words, why intelligent people make stupid mistakes. We read up on this field.
The problem, I believe, is that the kids have too few techniques to draw upon. When their map reading was not enough to indicate where they are, they panicked. Stress inflated and their ability to make a clear decision was lost.
There was my focus for this week’s repeat Practice Expedition. At every opportunity, I introduced a new technique to add to the group’s repertoire, or to practice a previous one.

All groups passed. They were obviously happy with how things went and the weather continued to improve.


The group I was assigned to work with could not have been better. What a privilege to work with such able, enthusiastic and optimistic teenagers. On top of that, they were such tremendous fun. Each time I stopped them to ask “exactly where are we now on the map?”. Their answers were as good as satnav, they pinpointed to better than 25 metres.
Later in the day, they came to the staff hostel to ask whether they were allowed to sleep out under the stars, not in their tents. I wracked my brain and could of no reason to refuse. Carl and I fixed up a tarp for them and they arranged themselves beneath in an asterisk. The picture taken at 6.30am shows that none had given up and scurried back into their tents by dawn.
If I were to have children, they’d be good enough to be one of them!

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