(This goes along with our podcast- you can find it at http://www.Adventure IQ.com)
I have never been a fan of the notion everybody wins. When coaching youth roller hockey in San Antonio, I had one of the few, and eventually the only program that still kept score in the YMCA portfolio of sports programs.
I believe that you need to give kids a realistic view of their performance, but done so in a way that you leverage their strengths in whatever evaluation you are doing. I don’t believe in sugar coating the feedback, or playing with soft gloves. I also don’t believe in being harsh on them either.
In all my workshops, coaching endeavors, or training I do with kids, military leaders, new adults to the woods, etc is the same… I define the conditions and expectations, allow them to perform, allow them to self evaluate, and then provide guidance and feedback.
The other aspect is tough. I don’t rescue. I allow failure as long as safety is not compromised. Nothing is learned if I am constantly helping a participant to a point I am completing the task them.
Let’s discuss two situations where I have to guide a participant differently.
The first is a fire building scenario. The participant has a good grasp of the concept, understands how to use flint and steel, knows the type of tinder and has been highly successful in starting fires in the past. But this has all been in controlled conditions when it has been fair weather and dry materials.
Survival fires though are most often needed when conditions are wet and clammy. To really test skills, I have to put the participant into real conditions so they not only have the ability to start fires and get warm when most needed, but to have the confidence to do so.
Most fail in getting the fire started in these conditions. Many times, I fail. It is a difficult test to complete. But the real learning is through the debrief with the participant and allowing them to do it again.
Watching a participant unnecessarily expending energy to grab materials, using the wrong materials, standing by and watching the fire not start can be irritating and the desire to jump in can be powerful. But I have to let them fail. This is because the participant has acquired a level of mastery in controlled conditions that can lead to over-confidence which is just as dangerous as not having the skills at all. Here you have to have the tough love and not jump in, allow them to identify their own mistakes, and then provide guidance.
In the other situation, a participant who is new to GPS navigation. In this scenario, the participant is just learning, and allowing them to fail outright as they work to program coordinates, follow the gps to a target, and try to find the best path to get to the target can be overwhelming. In this case I will work closely with the participant and provide constant coaching and working them to success. I still use the same debrief techniques of “what, so what, now what” that I have discussed in the blog and podcast in the past.
Building a solid toolbox of skills is an on-going exercise. As a team, constantly work on our skills to either keep them sharp or learn new techniques. It is also what helps us in communicating with each other and building our team and our families to a tighter cohesive group.
I am not a fan of the everybody wins philosophy. In the back-country people die. There is no second place with mother nature, just a body bag.
For more information about us, please checkout http://www.AdventureIQ.com for other blogs, podcast, and videos.