Each BCM backpacking expedition is comprised of five adults and five teens, and each canoeing expedition is comprised of four adults and five teens. One adult is a staff member from the participating youth organization (Agency Leader); one adult is the Instructor and the remaining are BCM volunteers. The Instructor is the experienced leader of the expeditin. Each Instructor has been hired and trained by BCM and has gained an understanding of what makes our expeditions unique. While hard skills (navigation, Leave No Trace practices, pitching tents) are necessary, the Instructor is responsible for the overall feel and direction of the experience. Because of his/her experience either through training or from another BCM expedition, this person has a good idea of what to expect from not only the teens but from the other adults. This experience, combined with an understanding of what BCM hopes to show our teens and volunteers, is vital to the success of the program.
Each member of the adult team is part of the decision-making process, but in the end the Instructor has the final word. A good Instructor knows how to include every individual – including the teens – in planning and chores. Each adult should feel like he/she is an integral part of making the experience come together. The Instructor must be able to use everyone’s strengths to complement each other’s weaknesses to form the most cohesive unit possible. When this happens, the expedition is always a success!
The Instructor is ultimately responsible for the money on the trip. While BCM will be providing most of the food for the expedition, he/she may have to make some supplemental purchases following BCM guidelines. He/she also leads the entire team in pre-trail preparations such as dividing up meals and learning about the gear. Although it is better to have all the adults pitch in with such responsibilities, the Instructor always oversees the process to make sure nothing is forgotten.
The best Instructors understand the art of improvisation, too. The best-laid plans will be ruined by a few rainy days or a detour in the road. It is important to remember that part of the beauty of nature, and in turn these experiences, is the necessity to be open to different options. If it rains, use the “down-time” to bond with the team with curriculum activities. If the teens are too fit for the trail you are on, find side trails that lead to waterfalls, rivers, or natural vistas. Do not be afraid to depart from your itinerary if it will enrich the experience for your teens and adults!