Saturday, November 05, 2005

Overseas Expedition Leader Development

The 3rd Young Explorers’ Trust Forum was held at Buxton in April. Clive Burgess represented the DES.

The aim of the forum is to bring together the expedition providers both commercial and voluntary to share information and good practise. The DES young leader development programme was featured and scrutinised by forum members. Draft proposals for an Expedition Leader Development Plan offering a seamless and progressive route through the tiers of leadership were produced and will be further developed at the next forum.

The DES has always seen the mentoring of its young leaders to be the cornerstone of its programme. This summer, Emily Andrew led a peer group climbing in the Dolomites; with her went Catherine Freeman another fine young leader who impressed the expedition panel of the YET and DES with her plans for Peru. Another member, Clare Davenport who teaches at Shaftesbury, is beginning to develop a programme within her school (read more about these three in this edition).

The partnership between expedition providers is essential; the reasons are apparent. A series of high profile incidents leading to the deaths of young people both in the UK and abroad has only served to fuel the argument that there should be more controls put upon expeditions using the licence method currently employed.

"The activities run by adventure programs involve risk and danger, but so does
everything else in life! The presence of danger gives rise to risk, and
risk of one of the critical components that makes adventure programming popular
and successful. State-of-the-art safety procedures are used to reduce the real
dangers, yet keep desired perceived risks high. Therefore, balancing risks
and safety is a central paradox....research has repeatedly shown that adventure
activities are significantly safer than most other traditional physical

Priest & Gass, 1997

Yet deaths of young people* on adventure trips is tragic and stirs up a media frenzy. The highest injury/fatality statistics are related to wilderness, expedition-based outdoor programs. These rates, however, are still quite low and equivalent to school physical education programs and sport, but less than the risk of injury in contact sports.

There is a perceived threat that if the ‘industry’ does not produce a self-regulation plan, then the government will impose regulations and with it the inevitable outside inspections. Thus the YET forum is determined to show that as responsible youth expedition providers, we are keen to contribute and sign up to standards that ensure the safety of our young people.
* The Health and Safety Executive report on the tragic death of Max Palmer in Glennridding Beck May 2002 while on a school trip can be read. Its website is type in Education then click on School Trips


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