Track Talk – April 2010

track talkIt’s always a challenge starting something new and figuring out how everything fits together. When I started tramping with the club almost exactly five years ago, the last thing I would have imagined was becoming chief guide. Just going along to club nights and heading out into the hills with strangers was challenging enough!

But after about six months, some new friends coerced me into trip leading and I discovered its strange enjoyment – and trip leading remains the most vital role that anyone in the club can do. I remember “losing” one of my punters on the second or third trip I lead: we had come over from the Wairarapa into the Orongorongo river and arrived far ahead of schedule. Because it was only lunchtime, a punter decided to head out to Wainuiomata rather than continue to our Paua hut destination. She would not be swayed from her decision, but I experienced a vague sense of leadership failure – exacerbated when we arrived at the hut and Ruth, the chief guide at the time, was there! Feeling that perhaps I wasn’t really up to trip-leader standard, I confessed the situation. Her comments reflected the fact that, although people commit to a group trip, they remain individuals with free will. The more trips you lead, the more you realise that it’s a continuous learning curve, as you slowly get smarter about group dynamics, physical limitations and menu planning.

Everyone feels uncertain about leading before they give it a go – so we’ve developed a course that covers all the questions you might have, as well as some you won’t even have contemplated. This year the leadership instruction weekend will be held from 14-16 May at Camp Wainui. If you occasionally have nagging thoughts that perhaps you could (or should!) lead a trip, or fancy a refresher, please sign up or get in touch. Huge thanks to Sue Walsh, who is coordinating this course and has taken on overall leadership of bushcraft and instruction.

It’s also time to start thinking about Snowcraft if you’re keen to learn some alpine skills. Despite being a victim of the infamous “snowcave blizzard” snowcraft of 2006, I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to tramp in winter/spring. Even the Tararuas get their share of the white stuff. Thanks heaps to Sharron Came and David Jewell who are again coordinating this instruction and sharing their ample alpine experience.

I’d also like to take this chance to thank those playing vital roles in the ongoing operation of our trips: Jackie Foster coordinates our system of emergency contacts, Mike McGavin collects statistics from leaders after trips, Sally Colbeck is our new trip money person, and Simone Musin is now taking responsibility for trip sheets. And of course Melissa Hewson, who is continuing in the role of assistant chief guide. It’s this combination of effort from many people – not least our leaders – that makes our trips happen.

As I write, we are putting the finishing touches on the Winter schedule – and we’ll be leaving some “leader required” gaps so that those completing the leadership course get the chance to exercise their new skills.

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