By: Blonde Two
There is nothing quite like an outdoor adventure for helping you to get to know people. After a couple of days out walking and camping, your fellow adventurers are likely to have found out an awful lot of things about you – some of these will almost certainly be things that you wanted to keep quiet.
They will know how to make you laugh and they will have inadvertently found out what makes you cry. They will know what you look like without make-up and when your hair is at its maddest. Your companions will know how much you eat, how much you drink and how many times, day or night, that you need the loo. They will have found out which situations make you and which ones nearly break you. The only consolation of this sorry situation is that you will know all of these things about them as well.
We inevitably get to know the youngsters that we walk with pretty well too. This is, of course, a great privilege as we get to witness many of their ups and downs. By the end of a season, we will know whose hands get cold, who falls over the most, who has the softest feet and who is most likely to stop and help his mates.
What Blonde One and I realised the other day was that the youngsters learn just as much about us as we do about them. This can sometimes result in embarrassment but they all seem to understand that “what goes on the moors, stays on the moors”. Knowledge can also result in some very funny moments. For example, last Friday night, Blonde One was having a minor (and very rare) “I’m a bit grumpy with the kids” moment. This was discussed and one of the older lads invented a torch signal that would “make her be nice”. This was used every time Blonde One had to talk to any of the youngsters and, as you can imagine, great hilarity ensued.
I have had many occasions when I have been astounded by how astute and mature these young people can be in their understanding of the adults that are leading them. I recall one particularly cold, claggy evening on North Dartmoor when I was shadowing a group back down to camp. I had sent them on ahead but at each change of direction, they lingered just long enough to check that I was still following. It was a simple, caring gesture that made a lasting impression on me. I have been rescued from stepping stones, helped across rivers and had my hand held through deep puddles by these youngsters and each time I have been deeply moved.
We are out again this weekend and I daresay that all of us, adults and kids alike will come back with some extra nuggets of knowledge and understanding to use as we like or keep for a rainy day.