AMC Winter School – January 31-February 2, 2014

Leadership Training: This was not something I thought I had any interest in. I mostly prefer to hike solo setting my own pace, enjoying the quiet and solitude, and learning far more about the trails than following the feet in front of me. I also enjoy the AMC NH Chapter Winter Schools at Cardigan Lodge and leadership training was pretty much the only avenue I had not explored and I was not disappointed. This was, by far, the most challenging experience I have had at these educational weekends.

Friday night, long past my bedtime, our group of 4 was expected to calculate the bearings, the distance, and time to hike 3 different bushwhack legs of a hike. That alone sent my brain spinning. I was tired and unprepared. I hadn’t done any map and compass work for a few years so I left my group to concentrate on this task; solo.

Saturday each of us took a turn at leading a hike. I led last and in the easiest position with very little trail left and not much to do. Saturday evening we leaders-in-training had to mock-lead two different simulated hikes, inside, with 7 participants and two experienced instructors watching and evaluating. An acute injury occurred on each of the two hikes and needed to be handled with precious little information (which was unrealistic as any leader would certainly know the trail well, escape routes, and accident protocol). I found the lack of preparation very stressful but I think that was intentional.

Sunday I started as leader of another bushwhack hike. My confidence grew tremendously after Saturday evening’s simulations and I actually looked forward to the task. There were a couple minor incidents acted out by our leader teachers, Rick Silverberg and Bob Humphrey. Bob acted the exhausted hiker after climbing a significant hill, leaning on a tree and breathing heavily. Rick acted the part of an impatient hiker who believed “following his nose” was superior to following a compass bearing. I slowed the group for Bob to recover and I mostly ignored Rick’s behavior. Bob recovered his breath and Rick rejoined the group after realizing that we were not going to follow him in a different direction.

Yet another accident training opportunity occurred on the trail during Johanna’s turn as leader (fortunately). She did a great job organizing us; finding a first aid experienced hiker, assigning us tasks like locating our position on the trail and finding the best route out.

What a weekend rich with information and self discovery and with a terrific group of people. Thanks to Rick and his team for putting together an amazing outdoor school program.

white mountains hiking
Terry, Bob (instructor), Johanna, Brian, Rick (instructor)

white mountains hiking
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white mountains hiking
Funny Skit to Teach How to Screen Hike Participant

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