Sam Booth

LEL Assessments


Last weekend I was an assessor on a Lowland Expedition Leader course, and I’m questioning whether I could have used my time with the candidates more effectively. The main assessment technique I use is setting “blind legs”, where I ask one candidate to navigate to a point, and when they get there, I’ll ask the other candidates to identify where we are on the map. On these legs I will often set candidates scenarios for the leader to deal with (eg. one of the group members is refusing to go any further) and I’ll ask verbal questions as we go (eg. what does that signpost tell you?) The problem is that these legs take a significant amount of time, and without careful management, it’s easy to find yourself in the mid afternoon with each candidate having led only one leg.

The good news is that I can solve this problem myself. The bad news is that this assessment only takes place once per year, so it’ll be 12 months until I get chance to improve my practise. I’m going to produce a worked example to see what good could look like:

I’ll split each day of the assessment into 3 sections. The “outbound section” from the campsite to an area suitable for assessing micro-nav skills, the “micro-nav section” for assessing micro-nav, and the “inbound section” back to that night’s campsite.

I’ll aim for each candidate to lead one leg on the outbound section, another one on the inbound section, and participate in at least 3 micro-nav exercises. Here’s what that could have looked like last weekend:

So, in hindsight, I should have set legs of around 1km on the outbound section, 500 metres on the micro-nav section, and a bit less than 1km on the return section. We don’t use the same assessment area every year, so the big takeaway is for me to imagine these three sections at the beginning of the day, and formulate a conscious plan for how I’m going to split up the time and distance, to make sure everyone gets the best assessment experience possible.