Assignment 2: Self organized Group Ski trip
“Nesten men ikke helt”
Right after our Basic Ski course, the next task was to spend some nights outside. As to how this was going to be carried out, was in our hand. To everyone´s satisfaction, different and mixed-up groups were formed, which enhanced the overall group dynamics and friendships a lot. Even though this was not a given task, the group building happened automatically, which proved to have positive but also insightful negative sights.
How did you plan your trip, aids, info etc.?
We planned our trip by joining up and giving our initial thoughts on where we would like to go and what we want to achieve. The overall group decision was made up quite fast, which eventually turned out to be mostly superficial, as not all group members were happy. This turned out to be discovered later.
The sources of information came from the Internet. We researched possible areas via Google maps, UT.no, DNT and Kartverket.no. With the help of yr.no, a decent and quite accurate Norwegian weather service, we looked up the weather forecast and snow levels in the chosen area.
Furthermore, we used the help of area locals, by either phoning officials, like the DNT or tourist offices. Our initial Airbnb’s host, we booked for the first night, was very helpful in providing local conditions as well.
When enough information was gathered and a group decision was made up, we joined up to fill out Expedition route cards and print out paper maps, with the website Kartverket.no. These were made as an orientation in the field, while using the map and compass. A detailed description of our upcoming trip was written and handed in to our Tutor, as a mean of security, if anything would go wrong.
How did your trip function?
Task failed successfully would be a fitting term to describe this trip. The “functionality” of our trip was very mixed. Our group consisted of 7 people. Every member of the group was very different in their respective physical shape, attitude towards “adventure” and their expectations. Injury and “being uncomfortable with cold temperatures” did not help with a winter trip either.
Even though, theory suggest that 5-8 people is an advisable group size, the planning, and the trip itself, did not go well. For planning, the experience of the individual group members varied quite a lot, so the communication was not easy. Experience in weather and conditions, that change over several days and upcoming weather fronts, seemed to be the most difficult topic. As much as how “difficult” the trip is going to be. Lesser experienced people did not feel comfortable with suggestions and tips from more experienced group members, which was likely caused by fear to be overwhelmed by the upcoming challenges. This made the communication the big issue and created an awkward and uncomfortable situation. This was not resolved entirely and led more to a general acceptance of the plan, instead of a consistent group decision.
All of this resulted in replanning everything, which led to a stressful “day before departure action” to figure out a plan for the upcoming days.
When arriving at Nesvatn a Lake, right at the border of Vestfold og Telemark, where our Cross-country Ski round trip was supposed to happen, difficulties came up almost instantly. The snow conditions were severely deteriorating over the last days due to unusual warm weather and therefore, the skiing conditions on our planned route appeared to be very bad and very difficult. As a multi-day ski trek was planned, the bags were very heavy and as Cross-country beginners this was not a very nice combination.
Besides all difficulties and changes of plan the group spirit was kept high. The group shared laughs in the hardships and made the best out of the conditions. This was a learning trip through and through. Not one day was without a lesson on conditions, behaviour, or skills.
After the ski Trip, we enjoyed a couple of days in a small cabin near the coast in Grimstad, which made the members of the group forget most of the difficult times and strengthened the friendships within the group. We returned with lots of new experience, mostly in how to fall face first into the snow and how to get up again (or not) with a heavy backpack.
What group dynamic processes did you observe?
This trip gave me the overall impression that it is very hard to plan and do a trip with a lot of people. 7 different opinions and moods are very challenging. On this trip no definite leader came up, which complicated a couple of “breaking points”. All sorts of other roles within a group were to be observed though. Mostly social orientated members did not make it easy for members that were either task orientated or Finishers´.
There were small groups within the big group. This happened mostly due to formed friendships and groups beforehand and the pre-formed tent groups, due to Corona restrictions. This made interaction and the forming of a cohesive group difficult.
Most of the processes were decision making and dealing with hardship and frustration within singular group members.
The group dynamic shifted heavily, as soon we were out of the trip, on hiking boots and in a small cabin. This shows how different people handle challenging situations very well and gave a lot to think about my personal way of dealing with things. Especially about my feelings towards going with bigger groups. Overall, the group did mostly work together to reach a common goal.
What have been the learning outcome from this trip?
It showed me that my own experience comes from solo trips and/or with 1-2 friends at maximum. It gave me the impression that I am most comfortable within the small group size or that I would be better if I am the definite Guide/Leader of a bigger group.
Patience and the ability to relax and respect the wishes and challenges of others were another big learning outcome of this trip.