Wilderness Leadership

Part 1: You are the leader on a 4-day winter backpacking trip in the White Mountains. Your group consists of seven participants of varied skill level. All have some experience winter camping. Your co-leader has Wilderness First Aid (WFA) and winter backpacking experience. This is day 3 of the trip. Today’s plan is to summit a…

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Leading teams of hikers and climbers on the snow and ice poses many of the same challenges as a three-season adventure, but the stakes are raised considerably. Shorter days make turn-around times more critical, surviving an unplanned night out requires more know-how, and a white-out blizzard can quickly disorient even a seasoned navigator. Below are…

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One of the most invaluable tools we have as leaders is our awareness of the factors that come into play when we are in the field. That awareness falls into three main categories: Environment Group Self As we shift into the colder months, digging all our layers and winter gear out of reverse-hibernation, it is…

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Often we get asked by folks, “What’s one thing people can do to make the outdoors more inclusive?” Despite the fact that we are diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professionals, this question always seems to stump us. It stumps us not because we don’t have an answer; in fact, we’re stumped because we have too…

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In March, we started talking about communication. I asked us, as leaders, to reflect on these questions: Were we mindful of the “novices” in our community? Did we adapt our communication so those individuals felt welcome? If not, why not? How would we change our approach in the future? I recently returned to these questions…

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  Part 2: Communication In the last installment, we discussed how people, or interpersonal skills, are an elusive component of leadership. As I mentioned before, the scope and complexity involved with these skills is hard to capture in a single word or phrase. Still, as leaders, mentors, facilitators, educators, or simply the intellectually curious, we…

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Part 1: The Art of Listening Working in an outdoor environment our role as leaders often incorporates technical or, “hard” skills, and people, or “soft” skills. The technical skills are tangible elements: How to tie a bowline, how to execute a forward stroke, how to set up a tent, and there are a lot of…

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Who is the mentor?                                                               Halfway through the two-week outdoor leader training, Keer, the course manager responsible for leading the training, called us together to…

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