Part of my work at CHMAS is freelancing for other companies, which I believe is very beneficial in terms of developing activity programmes, networking, keeping abreast of current good practice and of course an extra income.
Following a recommendation from a friend, I booked myself on a staff induction / training event for Class Adventure (CA), which was to be held in Buxton over 4 days in January. I was a little apprehensive about what to expect but I needn’t have worried as what followed proved to be a very enjoyable and informative 4 days.
Day 1 – Hill Walking
The first day of the course was spent on the local hills around Buxton. Apart from being a great day out we were introduced to the equipment that we were expected to carry, incident management and the process by which the activity is facilitated, a word that was to crop up throughout the course.
The day was finished off by a lecture on risk assessments and safety scenarios, a bit of reflection and socialising with my new team mates (Dave, Mike, Ian, Jeff & Harry).
Day 2 – Facilitation Skills Training
I was really looking forward to this day as it is an area that I identified for improvement some months ago. During the training we were introduced to:
- Ice breaker / energiser games;
- Development models (challenge by choice, comfort-stretch-panic and the Johari window); and
- Reviewing tools / techniques / games.
These topics were introduced in a very practical manner and involved a series of indoor / outdoor workshops. A very useful workshop in my opinion.
The last task of the day was to attend a workshop on child protection issues and scenarios.
Day 3 – Watersports / Climbing Day
This was to be a split day between raft building & flat water kayaking and rock climbing / abseiling. The morning was spent at Erwood Reservoir to see how raft building / flat water kayaking is facilitated by the company. The raft building was fun and I was quite impressed by our efforts although due to time constraints we were unable to test it thoroughly! Then as an existing coach, I was asked to demonstrate a few rescue techniques applicable to kayaking.
Later that day it was off to Windgather (a crag that I hadn’t been to for many years) to be shown how CA facilitate this activity. As an qualified instructor, I was asked to rig two climbs, an abseil, deal with simple incidents, bouldering and peer group belaying. I found this session really useful as it proved that I was operating in accordance with current good practice.
Day 4 – Low Ropes / High Ropes
Nowadays before you work at either a low ropes or high ropes course it is recommended that you are signed off by suitably qualified advisor. As a result we were all asked to manage / take part in a variety of low rope and high rope activities so that we could be signed off. This was probably my least favourite day but it was good to experience the activities as it’s easy to forget what it feels like as a participant!
Top Tips From the Course
Having access to some highly qualified facilitators and the enormous experience of the other leaders was extremely beneficial and I learnt a lot of little tips and tricks to make life easier when instructing. The best of these, at least in my opinion, are repeated below.
- Opposite band names is a great game to play on the move.
- Sometimes the best way to facilitate an activity is not to do or say anything.
- Gear placements can be easily checked by tapping them (if they are not seated correctly they will wobble).
- The position of most usefulness is not always the most appropriate position to be if we are empowering others to take responsibility for their actions.
- There is usually more than one way to achieve a result so stay flexible.
- A healthy sense of humour is priceless.
Reflection on the Course
Prior to the course, I was a little sceptical about the merit of a 4 day induction, much of which was of my own making as I imagined what we would be asked to do. However, nothing could be further from the truth (note to self – review NLP notes) as yes, we were asked to perform certain tasks but the outputs from the tasks were conducted via a peer review / discussion style which I found really useful.
By keeping an open mind, we open up our horizons which helps us to deliver to our true potential as we are not dragged down by our own negative (often unrealistic thoughts).
Such gatherings area great way to network and I have made several new contacts for potential work.
A peer review / discussion group group is a great way to share good practice and I aim to encourage this with other organisations that I work with.
Overall, a long but extremely useful course, which has already led to work for June and July.