A lot of people these days are engaged in hiking, backpacking, kayaking, mountaineering, and many other outdoor activities available. We do it for adventure, camaraderie, challenge, exercise, competition and just the desire to get out into nature.
You may be able to manage a short hike or an overnight camping trip near where you live, but if you want to explore deeper, go into unfamiliar territory, for a lengthier period or run an international venture for a group, going it alone is not an option.
Mother Nature may be beautiful but can also be unpredictable and unforgiving and that is why you must find a good venture leader who really knows what they are doing.
When considering a good venture leader, always remember the following qualities.
Having qualifications from appropriate organisations that relate to your venture is vital. Another thing to look out for is local knowledge. Just because someone is a well-qualified venture leader does not mean they have good local knowledge. A venture leader with practical, technical and logistical knowledge in all aspects of the venture is a must. Should you be taking part in activities your venture leader is not qualified in, then he/she should put in place these qualified sub-leaders for you.
The more experience a venture leader has, the better. This will determine their decision-making ability for any given event during an expedition. Not everything can be learned through books and often a decision is based on what they have experienced rather than what they have read is much preferred. Better to select a seasoned leader to guide you as they would know what is best for your venture.
Incidents and accidents are not common, nevertheless you must have a venture leader who is a qualified first aider or expedition medical. The risks on an international venture are different and often higher than those of our daily lives. These include the weather, the terrain, travel, activities and often wild animals. If an incident happens good first-aid treatment is essential. You should expect your venture leader to have further plans in place regarding an overland route to hospital and knowledge of medical centres and hospitals in the area.
A leader with a cautious attitude is someone who will be taking time to consider all the aspects of your venture and ensuring that the group is well prepared, engaging in appropriate and risk assessed activities. Greater risk is part of new activities and international ventures but these risks must be managed by your leader and the venture leader must also be experienced enough to dynamically assess and manage new risks that occur during the venture itself.
What is the sense in taking part in an international venture if you are not going to have fun as well as achieving your set goals? Yes, each venture has it’s own purpose but whatever the ethos and purpose of your venture it is important to have a leader who can make it fun as well. When you consider your group will be spending many days or weeks with the leader, it’s best to avoid robotic, stern and cold leadership styles.
Who leads you and/or your group is ultimately up to you of course, but there is no alternative for knowledge, skills, experience, a cautious attitude and a sense of fun!