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May 2014 Issue
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Navigating as a group

Doling out navigation tasks to all members of the group takes the pressure off one person
Ace navigator Tim Farrant says sharing the responsibility of navigation with the group will make trips more enjoyable

To navigate effectively as a group, good team work starts even before you hit the trail. Scrambling up rocky scree slopes and down exposed ridgelines may be a direct and enjoyable route option for you, but if the rest of the group doesn’t share your enthusiasm for massive hill climbs they may desert you at the first opportunity.

When your group shares a common goal you will all find the trip a whole lot more enjoyable.

There is no denying that navigation can be difficult at times, so patience and a bit of empathy go a long way in keeping the group moving.  Keeping all members of the party informed about the route is an important first step, but good communication goes further and includes sharing thoughts out loud, maintaining a discussion about the route ahead and interpretation of the map.

Everybody can share in the navigation of your chosen route and even with only one map in the group, specific navigation tasks can still be delegated. There are often more navigational aids than a single person can keep track of anyway, so distributing tasks amongst a group makes good sense. For example, one can read the map; another can check the elevation, while another checks the distance travelled.

Delegating navigation tasks can also prove empowering. With distributed tasks, every member of the group has something to focus on and can make a contribution towards reaching the destination. It can also avoid burnout with no single member burdened with the sole responsibility for the group’s direction.

– Tim Farrant is a champion rogainer and orienteer