By: Blonde Two

When I talk to people about the Ten Tors Challenge, one aspect that often surprises them is that the teams of youngsters complete the two day challenge unaccompanied by their adults. They have to walk, navigate, camp and keep each other safe from 07:00 on the Saturday morning until up to 17:00 on the Sunday afternoon.

Which means that those involved in their training have to make sure that the teams have had enough independent experience in the months leading up to May.  This is not as simple as it might sound. How exactly do you judge when your particular team is navigation capable? How do you find out how they will act in a crisis? How, in fact, do you let go? The consequences of getting this wrong can be serious; fail to give enough independence and they might get into trouble on the event, give too much, too soon and the risks are obvious.

There is a wide range of factors to take into consideration, here are a few:

Can the team navigate independently? How have they demonstrated this to you? How confident are you that they could do this under pressure?

What type of terrain will they be crossing? Are there any rivers or really boggy areas? How much experience do they have on rougher ground? Do they understand that not all map paths translate as ground paths?

If they walk too far where will they end up? Is there a catching feature like a forest boundary, a main track or a river that will stop them if they get things wrong?

What is the weather (and most importantly the visibility) like? What is it going to be like in a few hours? Have you taught them any poor visibility skills?

Who are they? Do you know that they are going to look after each other? Who is likely to need encouragement? Who might suffer an injury? Will they all listen to the team leader’s decisions?

It is clear when you read the above considerations, that one of the most important things that an adult leader can do is get to know the youngsters in his or her care. You can only really find the answers you need by walking with them and gradually, bit by bit, letting go. If you walk with a team, the teaching opportunities are endless.

But make no mistake, the learning opportunities that present themselves during just one day of independence are unparalleled. We probably don’t even find out about most of them. It is always a heart-warming experience to see the youngsters that you have trained walking over the hill towards you, looking like a team and like they have been doing it all their lives.

All that said, it is always a nail-biting experience letting go for the first time!