envelope icon phone icon

right arrow Home

right arrow Rules

down arrow Training

bullet Overview

right arrow Safety

right arrow Map & Compass 1

right arrow Map & Compass 2

down arrow Leadership

bullet Contingencies

bullet Debriefing

bullet Mentors

bullet Pre-Race

bullet Race Planning

bullet Time Management

bullet Trail Management

right arrow Manager's Handbook

right arrow Data Files

right arrow Maps

There are three kinds of men:

1. The ones that learn by reading.

2. The ones that learn by observation.

3. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.


The team has two leadership roles: Captain, and Navigator. In an ideal world a captain is in his third year, and has one previous year's experience as a navigator. I lump them together for training purposes. Many navigators will be captains, and exposure to the leadership training won't hurt. It will at least let them know what the captain is trying to do. And Captains won't be hurt by reviewing navigation skills.

I have seen exceptional students take on both the Captain and the Navigator role. He was brilliant, with a lightning grasp of maps, spatial relationships and numbers, and was a regional class track athlete too. And he struggled with it.

There is too much happening on a fast moving team for one person to do it all. If the captain is doing his own navigation, generally he's not considering how his plans need to change as the day goes on, he's not managing his team to best advantage, he's not monitoring the safety of his team.

It is possible for a leader to do his job well without understanding what his underlings are doing. The people I've known do this have all had grey hair and awesome people skills. At the lower level good leaders are masters of all the skills their direct underlings are expected to know. Often this alone is sufficient to get by. I think this is the reason so many outdoor leadership courses stress skill development.

I take a somewhat broader view than this:

Characteristics of Leaders:

At St. John's, we have made a distinction between captain and leader.
The captain is responsible for the competitive action of the team.
He's the one who gives directions. The leader is responsible for the overall safety of the group. He will step in if the group is about to do something dumb. He is also a mentor to the captain. In essence he combines the role of safety supervisor, coach, teacher, counselor, advisor, and referee.

If you choose to emulate this component, this group will need some additional training. If you choose to combine the role of captain and leader, then you need to more stringent about the captain's mastery of his training.

We also make most of our leadership roles dualarchies. That is, every leadership position has a partner. The captain has his navigator. On voyageur canoe trips, the bowsman and steersman are responsible for the canoe and everyone in it. Our trips are run by a Brigade leader and 2/i.c. (Second in command.)

So the captain and navigator between them have to run the day.

If you use a more 'team based' approach, then the captain is the one responsible for seeing that the team reaches concensus. This generally makes for a slower team.

I tell captains that they should listen to their team. But make up their own mind.

This section has three blocks in it:

In general a junior participant needs to be able to take care of himself, needs to monitor where the group is. If you implement tight control clusters it's to the team's advantage that he be able to follow a compass bearing and pace reliably.

Navigators need the full set of map and compass skills. Captains should also have this set, but don't have to be as good. Most captains can also use training in leadership skills.

Captains and navigators need training in time managment.

Leaders have to have safety mindset foremost, be a good enough navigator to track current position.

The entire team needs to be fit. Indeed. we had one alumni team that did a clean sweep (all controls) not because they were really good, but because they ran everywhere all day long.

Support roles:

Mapmakers need instruction in using MapMaker Pro, or other software and probably instruction in using GPS. While it is possible to self teach this stuff, for most of it you really want everyone doing it the same way.