In order for groups to complete programmes such as DofE expeditions, they need to be self sufficient, completing their route without any outside assistance. This means that during qualifying expedition and parts of practice expeditions, groups will need to be supervised remotely. Instructor qualifications alone do not testify the ability to manage remote supervision. It is our depth of experience and expertise in this field that allow our team to carry out remote supervision, ensuring that groups get the most from their DofE expedition. This allows them to develop independence, whilst maintaining the highest safety standards. Each year we devote time to team training on remote supervision to ensure that skill levels remain high.
Some questions that we are frequently asked about remote supervision are answered below…
Remote supervision involves the safety and well‐being of a group being monitored from a distance, with
limited direct contact with the group.
Remote supervision can take different forms and instructors will move between different types of remote supervision to ensure that the safety of a group is managed without compromising the expedition experience.
In order to complete your DofE expeditions you need to have met the 20 Conditions for Expeditions as
laid down by the DofE.
The first of the 20 Conditions is that the expedition is unaccompanied and self-sufficient without outside assistance. For this objective to be met, groups cannot be “led” by their
instructor, rather they must be under their own steam and making decisions themselves along the way. However, we are still responsible for the safety of the group, so they must be monitored throughout
and we do this by remote supervision.
Adventure Expeditions works hard to achieve the correct balance of safety and supervision, so that
the group feel like they are on their own rather than knowing they are being closely shadowed, watched or monitored in any way – it is their experience and it should remain feeling like this. Our aim, therefore, is that remote supervision feels just that – unobtrusive.
Firstly, we train groups in all of the skills they will need to be self sufficient in their chosen expedition environment. We gain a good knowledge of their ability during training sessions so that we are able to better predict their reactions as a team on the hill. Training sessions also give instructors confidence in what groups do and don’t know and allow us to develop faith and trust in their ability. This is why we ask that all of our DofE expedition programmes involve an element of training / getting to know teams before they head out on an expedition that involves remote supervision.
Next, AE has direct and current knowledge of the expedition area being use. All areas are either used regularly and location specific information updated in our locations database or are recced in advance of being used. This information ensures that we are aware of any potential hazards – where appropriate, this knowledge can be passed on to the group.
Using a combination of experience in the field, extensive prior knowledge from working with
groups and constant review of our procedures we are able to make sound
judgments and position ourselves appropriately throughout the expedition in order to
maintain safety and risk management.
Finally, a level of supervision appropriate to the group and the conditions is used. We make a full assessment of the group’s planned route and continually make dynamic risk assessments once on expedition, taking into consideration prevailing conditions.
All AE instructors have the ability to move quickly and efficiently on the hill, something we believe is essential
to remote supervision, in order to get to the group quickly should they need us. Where terrain allows we sometimes use mountain bikes or fell run to aid remote supervision.
We have been asked several times about GPS trackers – if we use them and if not, why not.
We firmly believe that absolutely nothing can replace a qualified, experienced professional on the hill to look after your young people.
Over the years we have been involved in using, trialling and testing a variety of different tracking devices and we have always come up with the same conclusion – nothing is as good as having an instructor in the area to keep track on and oversee the safety of groups near potential hazards.
We keep tabs on the latest advice and guidance from professional bodies and our stance on trackers is in line with current opinion from both the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres and the Association of Mountaineering Instructors. Having instructors on the ground is not the cheaper option but, in our opinion, it is the best for safety and quality – technology can only assist, rather than replace, qualified instructors.
As such, mobile phones, GPS and radios may form part of our safety systems on expeditions.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about our remote supervision strategies.