Important information about Youth Programmes run by Chris Packe
The Risk element Youth Programmes would have limited authenticity if there were no element of risk; it is an essential element in providing the lessons and experiences that support a person’s growth – to experience a sense of freedom and self-reliance, and to experience how it is to exercise personal responsibility in these circumstances. It is our responsibility to ensure that risks are managed, by minimising them and instructing participants in the safe negotiation of the risks that remain. Operating procedures, risk assessments and other approaches are used to achieve this, as well as safety briefings and clear instructions when out in wild environments. It is the responsibility of any child in our care to obey these instructions for their own safety, and the safety of the group. We cannot be held responsible when instructions are ignored, or for reckless, unpredictable behaviour.
Fitness and mindset A degree of physical fitness is required, and a mindset to take on the various challenges. Sometimes equipment will be carried on consecutive days, often over rough terrain. By design, there is some struggle. Similarly, these programmes require a degree of social / emotional skill (e.g. engaging in group conversation and practices), and a willingness to engage in such challenges, as they come hand in hand with the physical endeavour, as far as the individual is able. It is vital, for the experience of the individual participant and the group as a whole, that participants are aware of this, and attend with such a willingness.
Commitment level In order to be able to offer Youth Programmes such as Wolf Pack and Odyssey, we require the full commitment of the participants, and their families. In the bonded groups that form, an amount of synergy is lost by an individual missing one trip, and the whole group is affected, not just the absentee; each member carries a responsibility for the wider group. We realise that unpredictable events and changes can occur, but the important point here is that a sense of responsibility for the wider group is felt by all participants and their families, and that the prospect of absence is not taken lightly.
Remote supervision On some occasions, to serve the purpose of participants safely experiencing an exposure to risk, we might implement remote supervision, in particular when at woodland camps and wild campsites. We do not wish to keep tight controls on teenage boys/men or girls/women in cases were it will not serve them, or fit in with the spirit of an Activity. In such situations, to protect them as far as is reasonably practicable, participants will receive a clear briefing on risks and rules, and what activities and behaviour is and is not acceptable. It is then the responsibility of participants to conduct themselves within these guidelines, as described above.
No climbing or wild swimming At times we will be in areas where climbing and wild swimming will be a temptation. These activities are currently (and regretfully) not permitted and staff will make this clear. It is then the responsibility of every participant to adhere to this. Parents of children attending Youth Programmes are also asked to make this clear to the participating children before the event, so expectations are set from the start.
Equipment Participants may bring a suitable knife (lockable or fixed blade such as Opinel or Mora Companion knife) and a lockable pruning saw (such as the Bahco Laplander saw). However, these knives, saws and other sharp tools may only be used in structured supervised skills sessions, or in practical situations when out on expeditions, and only ever when supervised. Under no circumstances may axes of any size, or any other large or heavy-bladed tools be brought or used by participants, unless it is a staff member’s tool used under direct one-on-one supervision.
For outdoor events, it is vital that suitable equipment is worn / taken, for the safety of the individual and the group as a whole. We will provide detailed information and advice on equipment needed, and participants must ensure that they arrive suitably equipped.
Tools (especially knives, saws and axes) We will always give safety briefings for tool use, and clear operating procedures will be adhered to throughout any activity. Participants may bring their own tools and equipment, and this is at their own risk. When accompanied by an adult, a child is encouraged to make a bargain with their guardian as to what tools they can use, how and when – but always within the safety guidelines set out by our staff.