For me this tour started very spontaneously. Sunday evening I was asked by a friend of mine who was supposed to go on monday, wether I wanted to switch groups. Since it was important to her, I was ready to change. So I fetched my equipment at the garage half an hour later at seven pm. Luckily we were told what we would need for the tour, so that my lack of preparation was not too hindering.
Since it was sunday evening and most shops were closed, after I got my equipment I went to my friend and took the food that she had prepared for her trip. At first I was a bit afraid that the amount of food would not be enough for me but she reassured me (showed me the huge packages and the amount of calories). Therefore I did not really have to prepare my food just add a few things and replace some others. Also the plans what to cook had already been planned without me.
Still this evening was not very relaxed and there were a lot of talks on what to do and how to plan the next week and packing the other stuff that I needed in three bikebags. I only stopped, when my roommate wanted to go to sleep.
The morning of the trip I stood up early to pack all the stuff I forgot/ did not manage to pack the day before.
All in all it was rather nice not to have to plan and buy the food but an a bit less spontaneously planned trip would still be nice (and very likely) the next time.
Again I observed that when it comes to sleeping outside our group seems to like sleeping all relatively close together. Even though our teacher pointed out some different nice possible sleeping places again (as in the trips before) we ended up all huddled together relatively close in one spot.
Since this time it was only half of the course of outdoor education our group got somehow closer together. We acted most of the time as a team and were actually waiting and caring for oneanother. Especially when canoeing we were staying together (for safety reasons). This seems interesting because if we are not on a tour we do not always stay that close together or spend so much time as this kind of group. But it seems that on a trip other peolpe just generally give a feeling of safety and the possibility to be supported. So the environment and the kind of task certainly changes a groups behaviour.
Still the way people are interacting with oneanother has changed compared to previous trips. Small groups inside the bigger one form and dissolve but there are always some existing. Also for example one person that has been rather in the center of attention on previous trips is now keeping herself out of the main action. This may be because of the (not so great?) relationship to other members of the group or just because of a personal mood.
It was also remarked that our group is louder in volume than previous Outdoor Education Courses (which was related to the fact that we are so many girls this year). I can not (dis)proof that since I have no reference.
Also that our teacher would for the first time camp with us during the night changed something about the group dynamic. We had more time to talk and got to know him better and generally I think that increased the group cohesion, especially because of all the jokes (about us;) and the laughing together.
What I learnt
Day by day we learned new paddlestrokes. In the beginning we focused on keeping the boat straight wich meant that one was paddling left and one was paddling right of course and the one in the back had to do a bit more for keeping the course. There is a „steering stroke“ for wich the thumb of the upper hand is either turned towards oneself or away and all the way down. Then the paddle is kept in the water a bit longer and used as a rudder for steering. The angle in which it is placed towards the boat decides in which direction the turn will be. It takes some time to find out how to do it and even when I thought I had gotten the hang of it I sometimes accidentally steered in the wrong direction.
Every time I slept outside so far I felt like I learned a lot. All i all two of the three nights felt rather cold and damp with frost covering the ground in the morning.
Therefore (afterwards) we realized: shelters can be useful even when sleeping beneath a cloudless sky. Especially close to lakes or rivers the moisture that evaporates from the water can make ones sleeping bag wet and therefore makes one feel cold and uncomfortable. Also the smallest gust of wind makes one feel the cold tempretures a lot more. In the last night it even started to graupel in the morning hours (again!) which caused me to wrap myself in the tarp on which I was lying (the fastest and easiest form of shelter, but not always the most comfortable). Still the two nights without a shelter had advantages when it comes to building up camp in the evening and packing ones stuff in the morning. With just a tarp, a sleepingmat a sleepingbag and an inlay it does not take too much time or effort. These are the reasons why we decided to sleep like that. In addition there is no special environment (as trees to tie a rope to) needed except (more or less) flat ground and some kind of protection from the wind. This was given in both of the nights without a shelter by choosing to sleep on the downwind side (with a forest in between the wind and our sleeping place).
Still the one night that we spent in the tipi of TrollAktiv reminded me again that especially in relatively cold nights shelters can be very useful. Inside it did not really feel warmer but very sheltered from the wind and weather.
Therefore depending on the weatherforecast, the environment of the sleepingplace, the tempreture and the time and power that one has left building a (stable) shelter should be considered.
Setting up a toprope course
We also learned how to prepare a toprope course for a group. For this reaching the climbingspot some time before the group arrives seems necessary. When getting to the top (in our case by going around the actual climbing wall and up a slope) the first thing that should be thought of is safety. Therefore it is advisable to attach oneself to a rope that keeps one safe at the top.
For all the climbing routes two independent anchor points with carabiners and ropes are needed to ensure safety even if one part of the rope breakes. They shoud have an angle of abot 40 degrees for improved stability. Still there can be different ropes in one carabiner. The rope in the carabiners should form either a clove hitch or a figure of eight or -nine kind of knot. On the top of the wall just over the edge (so just the rope on top gets used by rubbing over the edge) the rope should form another figure of eight with a carabiner and the actual climbing rope within it.
Another new thing was the securing people from the top, which we learned to make beginners in abseiling more secure. For this the one who is securing needs to be first of all secured oneself. Therefore the figure of eight knot and a carabiner is used to tie him to two independent anchor points in a way that he can see over the edge but can not fall. Then the climber is secured as from the bottom. The only difference is that the breaking hand faces inwards instead of away fromm the wall (but as usual away from the climber).
For abseiling itself one needs a saftey device (like a Tuber) and then one can lower oneself down by keeping the hands beneath it (in some distance to the device) and slowly alowing the rope to glide through. It is important to look where one is going (downwards) and walk down with the feet against the wall and the hip rather far down (in comparison to the feet).
To make it more secure when going by oneself a sling can be used to get the breaking device further away from ones body (but it should still be reachable). Then a friction knot with a smaller sling will be attached directly to the carabiner on the harness. This will be pulled along and will stop the descending if one looses control and lets go of the rope.