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Packing Nightmares

The dreaded kit lists.

Whether a professional climber, amateur hiker or sporadic hill walker, we all have the same nightmares regarding our kit:

"Is this worth taking?"

"It could be useful!"

"Nah… it’s far too heavy"

"What if the weather changes?"

Then the inevitable...

"I should have brought it!"

"What am I going to do without that?"

And for those of us who are DofE leaders, guides or mountain leaders we always wonder how much we should carry in case others forget!

We've all been there. And we have learnt our lessons. And continue to do so. But wouldn’t it have been great if we'd had somebody to tell us what kit to take, give us some tips, to save us from one or two of those difficult situations when we realised that the piece of kit we discarded as not useful is now vital?

And that is one of the many things we do at AJSpain. We can recommend to you what kit is essential, advisable or a definite no when planning your adventurous journeys here in Spain, be it Mallorca, Grazalema or Sierra de Huelva.

That's what we did last week. We had a group of very inexperienced Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Bronze level participants. Only two of twenty had ever been hiking before. So, we thought it vital to start with the basics and spend some time talking about kit. And what better way of learning about what kit to take than playing a game?

In their three DofE Bronze expedition teams, they were given a set of cards (laminated, naturally - this is DofE!) with pictures of different kit items, and three larger cards (one with a picture of a rucksack, another marked with a large red 'X', and the last with a question mark). They had to sort their kit pictures into those three categories: the rucksack for the kit they thought was essential, the 'X' for the "no way", and the question mark for those that can fall into the category of, "why not?"

Not only was this a great opportunity to talk with them and start them thinking about spending time in the great outdoors, it was also a first insight in to supervising their teamwork. During whole group feedback, they showed their ability to use logic and convincing arguments to prove their point, sharing their opinions.

We hadn't used this exercise before but it worked well for complete novices. Of course, there will be follow-up sessions on proper use of kit and how to choose the right gear, as well as packing a rucksack. However, we're happy with how this went.

How do you approach this early stage in Bronze expedition training? Feel free to try our method, if you like, and let us know how it goes!

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