FMC and leader responsibility
I hadn't heard of this accident until now, but the article's interesting as an expression of FMC's view of the difference between club trip leaders and commercial guiding. https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/124989932/expert-highlights-missed-opportunity-to-descend-before-wellington-womans-death-on-indian-trek My experience of NZ tramping club trips, at least for WTMC, has been that a trip leader is (usually but not always) more of a group coordinator than someone charged with an expectation of total responsibility for everyone's safety. It's someone to coordinate the menu and transport and the basic plan but, certainly on the more advanced trips, decisions would often be a group effort unless there was a big disagreement and someone had to decide. Maybe in part, though, that's because on more advanced trips people are more likely to know each other and (probably) most would be capable of being in the leadership role. The exact expectation might slide depending on the nature of the trip and who's on it. This experience was quite from a few local club trips I tried with a Melbourne club a few years back, and the designated leader seemed to be awkwardly treating the whole thing as almost a guided tour where they acted like they were expected to be an expert. Has anyone been on any of FMC's Travel Club trips? ===== From the linked article: "FMC, which was founded in 1931 and represented 96 New Zealand clubs, did not vet trip leaders, but McNeil felt a leader’s role was “almost egalitarian” on these trips, particularly as they were unpaid volunteers. "“These trips were supposed to be a tramping club-style trip, not a commercially guided one which, I think, is an important distinction,” McNeil said."
ive seen comments online from people who've been on trips with him before that he already had a reputation fornot being safety conscious other people saying they'd never do another trip with him he was involved in an avalanche on the pinnacles and there was this incident https://www.pressreader.com/new-zealand/rotorua-daily-post/20100302/282591669106969?fbclid=IwAR0rpP2NRHM2njcvyG64-v58fg460e7r7awjRC8UOMvWTM45Lh-cGkpPbyk
I cant comment on the event that caused this thread as I have no knowledge of it. My take on a trip leaders role is that they are technically in charge and whre the buck stops if an event occurs. In the case of a trip with equally qualified members it may well be that every member is 100% capable of leading but Ive seen it happen where many experts have many ideas and the result is many options taken not necessarily by the complete group. That only happens if there is no one in charge and can easily end badly. You only have to look at the recent politics in a certain large country where the leader couldnt lead. In the case of less qualified participants then the leader has to be the organizer the trainer and the guide. If you cant handle this responsibility you should not be leading. If you cant lead an easy trip with people looking to you for guidance you shouldnt be leading trips where everyone knows everything. I did a 4wding course several years ago for work and was asked what I hoped to gain from the course apart from the certificate. My answer was that the person that knows everything is the person I would be most scared to go with as they probably have the most to learn.
if you havent got one person making the executive decisions you're at risk of having a group that can become fractured, especially if they havent been together before... its not like a bunch of friends who go together and all get along..
I find myself in disagreement with Rob McNiell. Running a job or trip of 'randoms' on an 'equalitarian' basis with no identified team lead is a really tricky one to pull off safely. Unless you know the group really well, I believe that a recognised lead is essential - as @geeves says 'the buck stops here' location. At work we've moved from having Team Lead as a position that the most skilled team members get promoted to based on leadership skills & experience, to a situation where anyone could be lead on any job. As a such I've seen group leadership done well and badly in a whole range of scenarios. For me there are 3 classes of group dynamic: 1) A strong, skilled individual leading a team of less experienced people. Leader 'thinks' for everyone to ensure their safety, enjoyment, and successful completion of the task. Team listen, participate, learn and enjoy. Hard work for a leader but successful if that's the dynamic you have. 2) A team of skilled individuals who work well together, collaborate on decision making with a recognised chairperson to ensure that all are pulling in the same direction. The most successful teams, and the most fun to participate in as either lead or member. This can easily be ruined by a domineering team lead. 3) A team of strong-willed, 'experienced' individuals, all pulling in different directions. A good team lead here need to win their respect, lay down a structure, ground-rules if necessary and get them all pulling together - ensuring all are safe, constructive and get enjoyment. This is really really hard, and I don't do it well. Of my colleagues, I can think on only one who reliably pulls this off. X) And of course, big groups will consist of a whole mix of the above, with dominient self-interest mixed with inexperience, over-estimation of own abilities, and the need for support. I do not see how you can safely run any activity that could encompass all three of these dynamics on an 'equalitarian' basis. And - there is a real skill to balancing the three above scenarios - being a strong lead where required, but recognising the experience and advice of others, and letting the group run itself whenever possible. The 'anyone can be a lead' mantra is not one I agree with. == The 'the guiding company was responsible' argument carries some weight with me, but only up to a point. When we use choppers or boats, I make it clear that for the duration of that trip the pilot or skipper is the lead, not me - as they have the relevant skills & knowledge. So that agrees with Joe's approach. But at the same time, I never relinquish the responsability to look out for the team's safety and wellbeing - and the obligation to speak-up and even step-in if I feel it is not being looked after.
I think @madpom has it pretty accurately stated when he says: "Running a job or trip of 'randoms' on an 'equalitarian' basis with no identified team lead is a really tricky one to pull off safely. Unless you know the group really well, I believe that a recognised lead is essential - as @geeves says 'the buck stops here' location." I was asked by a friend half a dozen years ago now to "guide" a group of Australian and New Zealand venturers on the Northern Circuit. They also had an adult scout/troop leader (not sure of the correct term) with them. I agreed to do it but under the condition that when on the track I was the boss and my decisions were final. I was happy to consult with the "troop leader" but I made the final decision. Once we were at camp and off the track then the leader was in charge of organising meals/distribution of equipment/camp discipline etc. It was a pretty easy tramp and as it turned out well within the kids' abilities (was probably too easy for some) but I wanted it clear from the start what each person's responsibilities were so there was no conflict. I was a bit worried because this was clearly a group in the "Group 1" category from @madpom's list. I am normally "leading" a "Group 2" where decisions are more collaborative though I tend to be looked to for the final say as I have generally organised the trip and have the most knowledge of the route, difficulty etc. To circle back to the original article; the trip leader seems to fail at the first rule of tramping I was taught — always pace the trip/cater to the weakest/slowest individual. I remember from my earliest days tramping Dad always sticking my youngest brother at the front of our line and we walked to his pace. We timed stops for when that person needed them. As I have grown up it has always been the same. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to shove a reluctant individual to the front and say "you lead at your pace". To me ensuring that weakest person is looked after is the number one job of any trip "leader". Additionally, if you look after that person one day they are invariably stronger the next. Just continually running a person in to the ground then claiming you have no responsibility for them doesn't fly with me in any outdoor leadership role.
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