By: Blonde Two
We start the morning with a group of excited kids, they have loads of energy and are giggling, messing around and not getting organised. After a rather long briefing, some silly questions and a lot of map flapping they set off with us shadowing. Almost immediately, they stop, look at the map and set off again in a slightly wrong direction.
Things carry on along these lines for around an hour. There is usually screeching – sometimes at mud, sometimes at ponies, sometimes at nothing at all – on Saturday however it was at snow balls. It fact, on Saturday, they were so distracted by their own screeching that they proclaimed we were at Hound Tor when we had only reached Smallacombe Rocks (way too early).
At this point, one of the Blondes has to deliver a gentle bollocking. Words such as team-work, team-selection and navigator are used and a slightly severe tone is generally adopted. More map folding happens and the kids set off again, walking slightly faster and being a lot quieter.
The next problem is the snacking. They have all been told to bring plenty of food and I am not against grazing as you walk but you would be amazed how much time this can take. The reason is obvious – they never want to snack at the same time. One will stop for a drink, they set off again, another will stop to eat, they will set off again, a different one will stop for a wee and then the first one is too hot/cold/wet – you get the picture.
The walk carries on and you get to the moment when you know that you have to let them go off on their own for the first time. It is a scary moment for them and for the Two Blondes. Blonde One talks to the navigators and I brief the leader and then they are gone – and we wait.
And we wait … and look at the weather, and look at our watches and check the map. Was it too soon to let them go? Who will fall over? Are they warm enough? – all sorts of possibilities go through our heads. On Saturday it was so cold that we had to wait in the storm shelter which made it much more difficult to scan the horizon for kids.
And then suddenly, it happens – while they have been alone, Dartmoor has wielded the magic and over the brow of the hill, a team of excellent young people appear. Gone are the silly kids we set off with – in their place are a group of young men and women who have arrived on time, know where they are going next and are really looking after each other. Pure magic!