Communication & Quads….

Given the disastrous efforts of my last post I think it’s fair to say that today I will be concentrating on practicing what I preach in terms of ‘having a back up’ of my information, I was very grumpy following the prior two hours of typing loss….Meh!

<Action: CTRL+A, CTRL+C, open blank word doc, CTRL+V> 🙂

To recap, last week ended with us discussing our ‘community values’ on station, who we are, why we’re there, recognising and accepting our differences as people and trying to be more tolerant than we would in normal society…..On station it’s harder to make the distinction between work life and home life, the people you spend all day with are the same people you spend all night with and all weekend with…In fact, all year with – Not so bad when there’s a hundred people on station during the short and busy summer months but come the Winter when there’s only twenty of you keeping that base ticking over from February through to November it can become a necessity to have to confront people about your particular dislike of habits or behaviour before tensions escalate, likewise, you need to accept that things you do yourself can also be annoying. Things that used to bug me on expedition were when I would have my mess tin on open fire embers cooking my food and someone would ‘stir’ the fire up to get more heat and all the ashes and embers would then be in my food….Little stuff but it drives you nuts, ultimately you need to discuss these points with your peers so they know your pet hates and learn to live with each other’s tolerances.

The start of this week was along the same cuddly, huggy theme as last week, we had an all-day session which although entitled ‘communication’ was that and a lot more. Our ‘host’ obviously had a deep seated interest or doctorate in the psychology of human nature, there were a lot of facts thrown around about the workings of our brains, how, even though we may all be having the same experience we individually perceive the world in slightly different ways, colours, emotions, likes, dislikes etc. We covered our basic human instincts, our fear and how without necessarily knowing or accepting it we are very much driven in our choices by emotion to either accept or reject people and their behaviour due to whether we consider them a threat to our ‘survival’ or not. Something I’ve always been familiar with as far back as I can remember is Maslow’s Triangle – That mixed with the ‘survival law of threes’ has been a good basis in which to teach people how to cope with emergency situations and / or persuade yourself to follow when situations aren’t always looking so good – This, however, touched on the layer slightly above what I normally deal with, that of creating a mental state that can survive in close proximity with other ‘survivors’ for a lengthy duration…….This is a lot more complex and delicate than your standard hunter gatherer techniques, especially if we are to ensure that all group members ‘survive’ a winter without being socially excluded – My personal additional ‘rule of three’ that follows the ‘three weeks without food’ rule was always to add that ‘three months without human contact’ can kill too – there are a large number of historic cases where survivors will ‘give up’ when hope is lost, they’ll walk off to die, swim away from the life raft or just stop eating because they have lost all hope of ever being discovered, with that in mind, nine months of ‘isolation’ with the same people means we cannot afford to allow the usual society dynamic of ‘excluding people’ to occur, this could badly effect anybody and even possibly lead to suicidal tendencies.

Anyway, I’m rattling on but there were a number of examples introduced to us as to how we can reduce tension and troubleshoot the ways in which we’re normally intolerant of each other – Understanding numerous perceived viewpoints during each ‘conflict’ was key, as was how we word ourselves when trying to resolve problems with others…..Boxing gloves were mentioned a couple of times but unfortunately that’s nowadays discouraged…..:)

Onto today’s fun which was quad bike training – I don’t think I’ve seen so many of us with happy faces to date as I did today, the constant ‘smug looks’ from all of us as we repeatedly stated to each other that “We’re getting paid to do this” was a good indicator.

Back in the days when I was teaching outdoor education I worked for a company called PGL in Shropshire, UK. During a six week period one summer I was put in charge of running a ‘motorsports’ course for kids which involved all manner of different petrol driven vehicles including mini motorbikes, go carts and again, quads…..Statistically this turned out to be the second most dangerous activities on centre all year after horse riding for potential life threatening accidents – I remember dealing with three potential spinal injuries that year as quads landed on kids and kids fell off quads etc, spinal boards and paramedics are not a nice thing to have turn up at an outdoor centre – Usually it was the less confident people that had the accidents, you needed to ‘control’ whatever you were driving and not let it control you.

Today was a flashback from those days of old except for the part where I wasn’t allowed to dress up as an Ewok, drive through the local forest on a quad with a fellow instructor sat on the back with an air rifle shooting at a similarly ‘manned’ quad doing the same to us…..(Yes we were pretending to be speed bikers as in “Return of the Jedi” and no, I shouldn’t have been doing that after work…..But hey…). I digress……Some good trainers, simple clear instruction, plenty of time to practice what was taught and everybody’s abilities were catered for, this wasn’t required though, we all did fine….

Obviously it’s a little different when we get down South, we’re driving on snow and ice and in conditions where is very simple to get frostbite and lose a finger if there’s a hole in a glove – We have heated ‘mitts’ on the handlebars of the quads but even with this addition it is a cold experience sitting on a bike heading at 30kmph into a wind that’s already -40C….

Local familiarisation and station quad training will continue when we get to the ice, our routes are pre-selected so as to avoid us heading off ice cliffs and falling down crevasses (Yes, this has happened in the past).

Right, now, some pictures but first….:

<Action: CTRL+A, CTRL+C, open blank word doc, CTRL+V> 🙂

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