Best Practices for Training Conserve School’s Exploration Week Leaders
Jackan, Leanna M.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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This project focused on compiling the best practices for training wilderness trip leaders at Conserve School. Each semester, trip leaders take small groups of students on a week-long wilderness trip called Exploration Week. However, all trip leaders are at different stages of proficiency with their technical and interpersonal skills and there is little time to extensively train the trip leaders. To achieve overall success on Exploration Week, trip leaders must have a common knowledge base to work from. A review of pertinent literature reveals a wealth of curricula about technical skills. Books and articles directly related to facilitating outdoor tripping are fewer; however, general facilitation books are abundant. The best practices for trip leader training included standard procedures for training leaders in a variety of important technical and interpersonal skills. The technical and facilitation skills that past Conserve School trip leaders found essential for these trips were also compiled. Interviews were used to collect data from various institutions, a focus group with current Graduate Fellows was conducted, and a survey of past Graduate Fellows was used to broaden the data pool. All data was qualitatively analyzed. Important recommendations include taking trip leaders on a training trip, utilizing the staff manual as a part of the training process, and teaching skills by modeling them for the trip leaders. The skills that were found necessary to lead an Exploration Week trip include the gamut of basic backcountry camping skill, and a variety of simple facilitation activities. The completed best practices for training and list of skills were submitted to Conserve School for consideration in May 2013.