In exercising control over the party the effective leader uses tact and skill. No-one likes to be ordered to do something, so the tactful suggestion that the party does this or that is usually sufficient. Only in the extreme circumstances such as irresponsible behaviour or impending danger does the leader lay down the law.
The leader consults his party about major decisions, but must never forget that the final decision and responsibility are his and he is accountable should anything happen to the party.
Before setting out. The leader quietly checks everyone’s equipment. Has everyone got suitable footwear? Windproof outer garments and warm clothing? Water ?
It is the leader’s responsibility to choose the easiest and safest path for the party to follow and keeping alert to all potential hazards. It is just not done for a party member to overtake the leader without permission, lag behind the sweep or to compete with the leader in route finding, even if he is as competent as the leader.
KEEPING THE PARTY TOGETHER
The leader may deliberately split the party into subgroups under the control of a 2 i.c. The subgroups may then hike independently meeting the main party at a prearranged point. The only other time the leader will allow the party to split is when he sends some members for assistance in the event of an accident.
A frequent cause of accidents is the inadvertent splitting up of a party. If the party has more than four persons, then the leader must appoint a tail ender to safeguard against stragglers.
The test of a competent leader arises when difficulties or emergencies occur. When they do, his responsibilities increase ten-fold. Similarly, the rest of the party then owe him a correspondingly increased duty to insure his instructions are followed exactly.
The leader must always keep an eye on the weather. Should conditions deteriorate, he must decide whether they continue or turn back, take an escape route or even sit it out. At all times, during bad weather he should watch party members closely to detect any early symptoms of hypothermia, particularly so in cold and wet conditions.
The leader has a duty to himself & the rest of the party to refuse to include on a hike anyone who, in his opinion, is insufficiently fit, experienced or equiped to comfortably & safely complete the hike.
The leader is at all times responsible for the safety of each party member.
The leader is responsible for the behaviour of this party – he sets the standards of the party by example – and enforces these standards. He will be responsible for ensuring that his party follows the country code :
– No litter
– No trespassing
– No fires (unless permitted)
CHECKLIST FOR LEADERS
Before starting to hike
- State the days objective
- Appoint a tail-ender/sweep and state his purpose
- Watch weather signs
- State policy on route finding
On the hike itself
- Start slowly and build up speed
- Watch individuals for signs of fatigue
- Watch for signs of errant behaviour eg discarding litter, damaging fences, etc
- Check with tailender periodically
- Watch weather signs
- Check members periodically asking about comfort, etc
- Check time schedule regularly. Cut and trim as necessary to keep to time