/ HF Holidays Assessment
I'm a trainee ML looking to get some leadership experience by volunteering for HF Holidays. My assessment is coming up and am wondering if anyone has any advice on what to expect?
Excellent navigation - mine was pretty much the same standard as the ML assessment except it was done only during the day.
Social ability with a group - thats what you need to display. Not a shrinking violet and not the centre of attention either.
They claim to employ people with a knowledge of the countryside & wildlife etc., but my assessor couldn't identify a raven when one flew past.!!
I agree with the navigation, they expect a very high standard comparable to ML. When I did the assessment we also had to do night navigation.
Also they will present you with difficult scenarios. Eg You arrive at the start of a day out by coach, the coach has gone and you are just about to set off when one of the group, a nervous lady, announces that she has forgotten to bring her walking boots. You are at the head of a remote valley, the walk back to base is 15 miles and she isn't prepared to do it unaccompanied. The rest of the group are anxious to get going on the walk and make it quite clear that having paid for the holiday they expect you to deliver. There is no mobile reception. How do you handle the situation?
I don't know if they still require you to arrange evening entertainment? I found that to be a bind.
They will be monitoring you from the moment you arrive, including how you get on with the guests over dinner - Eg. Good and considerate table manners? Passing salt and pepper to other guests? Wait for others to be served before starting to eat?Comfortable conversationalist? Do you tell inappropriate jokes? Are you shy or extrovert? Drink too much wine? etc etc
If it is anything like mine was you will be tired from the journey up, have had a good meal and are ready to turn in, when they suddenly require you to do a desk top navigation exercise in a classroom. Then when that is finished, and it's approaching mid night, you are really tired, then they tell you that you are leading a walk tomorrow, give you the map and tell you to prepare the route taking in various check points. The coach is leaving at 6 am in the morning and you have a lot of preparation to do. You spend half the remainder of the night on your hands and knees poring over a map!
In the morning we piled onto the coach and were driven to a remote area off the beaten track where none of us had been before. Of course everyone has been chatting and no one has been taking any notice of where the coach was going. On arrival you are given a map and given 5 minutes to find your exact location by observing the surrounding topography - no consultation with others.
And so it goes on. Quite relentless, and you have to be able to navigate very accurately to features like a re-entrant or knoll on a plateau summit..
They keep throwing unexpected scenarios at you like someone stopping for a pee and not coming back, your party splitting up, or someone collapsing with heart attack symptoms etc. etc to see how you handle the situations and maintain control.
All good fun
I started leading with HF to get the leading days I needed for my MIA. 6 years later I'm still doing up to 6 weeks a year and really enjoy it.
On the hill your navigation and hill craft needs to be at a sufficiently high level that it only requires a small percentage of your concentration leaving the majority of your attention focused on looking after your group.
As others have said being sociable is really important. You need to come across as relaxed and assured. Take the role seriously but without taking yourself seriously.
Hehe sounds superb. There's a dark part of me that would like that kind of thing to be part of DofE Gold assessment. Make 'em really have to work for it ;p
I done my summer ML assessment earlier this year and love it, amazing experience.
Try and not think of it as a big bad assessment, but as an opportunity to show your experience and skill, have fun and enjoy it.
Obviously make sure your navigation is up at an excellent standard. Try and be as accurate as you can, keep it simple!
When it comes to your steep ground day, be confident, make good clear decisions and most importantly be safe and make sure your anchors are bomber. Don't neglect confidence roping either, this played a big part of my assessment.
Be a leader, share your experience and have fun.
> I started leading with HF to get the leading days I needed for my MIA. 6 years later I'm still doing up to 6 weeks a year and really enjoy it.
When I think of all the weeks I have led for HF / CHA !
Towards the end of my time I used to dread the letter from the walking office with comments about the feedback left by the guests ! To be honest, you work your rocks off and then some nasty little piece of sh*t says you are snide and condescending ! Once whilst leading in the Alps (Chamonix) I was criticised for showing a slide-show of my mountaineering exploits in the area. I just saw it as an easy way to offer an hours evening entertainment, they thought I was boasting and trying to appear superior ! I can appreciate that for your average walker Mont Blanc by the Innominata ridge and the Gd Jorasses traverse is a whole different World, but one that I was sharing and not attempting to put them in their place !
I've no idea if organising evening activities is still part of the Leaders job. It wasn't at CHA and HF introduced it some time in the 80's if I remember correctly. At the time, your typical leader was someone who had taken early retirement and certainly wasn't doing it for the money !
I was an HF Assessor for quite a few years, but they've changed the protocol since I stopped so I can't speak for how they do it today. However, I agree with pretty much everything that's already been said. I'd just add that when you're doing the navigation day, try to hit the right balance between showing confidence and not being afraid to confess you've got something wrong and want to rethink. The other point is that in my time, roughly 1/3 of the candidates who turned up for assessment (a self-selected group, as everyone who sent in a valid application was invited to be assessed) were not accepted. Of those, more than 50% failed because of lack of social skills rather than technical failings. Good luck!
You arrive at the start of a day out by coach, the coach has gone and you are just about to set off when one of the group, a nervous lady, announces that she has forgotten to bring her walking boots. You are at the head of a remote valley, the walk back to base is 15 miles and she isn't prepared to do it unaccompanied. The rest of the group are anxious to get going on the walk and make it quite clear that having paid for the holiday they expect you to deliver. There is no mobile reception. How do you handle the situation?
What was the answer? Only I can think of a few responses but they might not be suitable.
This fascinated me too, so I borrowed it and put it up for grabs; some interesting answers so far:
I'd be really interested to hear Trangia's continuation!
Thanks everyone, some great suggestions!
Don't think that I'll take up some of the suggestions from Trangia's scenario - very funny though!
Further to my previous ... on the matter of 'scenarios', there's no 'right' answer, though there are many wrong ones (see Trangia) What the assessors are looking for is a sensible answer, an appreciation of the situation, a discussion of the alternatives (you'll be doing this in a small group discussion, unless they've changed the format). One of the features of leading this kind of outing is that there's no rule book which has the answers; you're expected to be competent and able to take sensible decisions under pressure. As long as you do that you won't be held to blame if anything goes pear-shaped. The lack of a rule book was sometimes a problem for aspirants from an old skool military or police background who were accustomed either to there being just one right way of doing things or for there to be a superior to tell them what to do. All the acceptable answers tend to start with "Well, it depends ..."
I had the same idea a decade ago, but probably the most beneficial thing (with hindsight) was how close the two days are to your ML assessment.
My weekend started on the Ambleside to Coniston public bus chatting to a chap who had done the assessment and hadn't liked the HF style.
Within a few hours of being there I agreed. So did my roommate. I had my life choices criticised by a couple of old dears over dinner which felt a bit like being home for Christmas. Maybe that's your thing.
Me and (60+) roommate and the assessor had a great time on the hills (no clients when I did it) just the three of us.
If you get in I think very few of their days are QMDs. But for leading experience it must be good.
At the end it felt like a date with a girl you don't fancy, we were both happy not to see each other again.