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Hilly hazard perception

What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a hazard? Explore how seeing what might lie ahead of you on a hillwalk can help.
Plan a session with this activity

Before you begin

  • This activity involves creating ‘Choose your own adventure’ style stories to help foresee risks and hazards on hillwalks. Therefore, this activity is best run in the weeks leading up to a hillwalking trip. Leaders and helpers should familiarise themselves with the ‘Choose your own adventure’ format and the British Mountaineering Council’s Safety on Mountains guide.
  • If you’re ordering new copies of the ‘Safety on Mountains’ guide, they’re cheaper bought in bulk. It would be useful for members of your group to have their own copies for this and other hillwalking activities, if they want one.
  • If you’re going to use computers or devices at your meeting place for this activity, make sure you have enough. You’ll need about one for every six people. Remind fellow leaders, helpers and group members that it’s the owner’s responsibility to make sure their personal equipment is handled carefully and stored safely when not in use at the meeting place. In a spare moment, take a look at Storyboard and Inklewriter. These are free online tools for building interactive stories. If you need to download any software to run this activity with digital tools, do this now.

 

Run the activity 

  1. Split into groups of no more than six. Give each group writing materials and A4 paper.
  1. Groups should pick a topic to focus on from the following list:
    • Clothing and equipment
    • Changing terrain
    • Weather conditions
    • What to do if you get lost
    • Walking in winter
    • Camping in the hills
    • Access to paths and wildlife conservation areas
    • Emergency procedures
    • First aid
  1. Using existing knowledge and the resources that are available, each group should write down a list of important things to remember about each of these topics when hillwalking or mountaineering. They should include hazards, risks and control measures associated with the topic.
  2. Leaders and helpers should go between the groups as they’re thinking about their topics, and share what they know from the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) guidance from the ‘Safety on Mountains’ booklet. Once each group has their main points written down, they should start thinking about creating a story from this information.
  3. Explain that each group will be writing a short hillwalking story based on their topic. This will be intended for their peers. Each story should start at the beginning of a hillwalking or mountaineering adventure and branch into scenarios that occur along the way. That scenario would then branch to two more written scenarios, and so on in this way.
  1. For those working without digital tools, give out scrap paper and the ‘Story mapping examples’ to groups that have a relevant topic to them. In pairs or individually, they should use the examples to practise writing out some short scenarios and choices on the scrap paper. See if these can be arranged like a story. Each scenario should emphasise the dangers of risks and hazards (in suitable language), and the importance of control measures, though everyone should be allowed to express their creativity with dramatic scenes. These should be read over again and again, to make sure that the story structure still makes sense and that the main points are all covered. Don’t do this too loudly, or you’ll give away the story!
  1. Gather the finished scenarios and narrative together in the order they’re to go in. Check the whole story through to make sure it makes sense, no matter what pathway the reader chooses. Also, check that all aspects of the assigned topic have been covered. Continue until each group is happy with their finished story.
  2. For those using digital tools, give out computers or devices and the ‘Story mapping examples’ to groups that have a relevant topic to them. Each group should nominate a group member to type, or take turns, as they prefer.
  3. Open Storyboard in a browser window and click ‘Create a story’. This should open a blank canvas for groups to begin their stories, in the same way as those working offline. They should use the ‘Story mapping examples’ to help practise writing out some short scenarios and choices on the storyboard. See if these can be arranged like a story. Each scenario should emphasise the dangers of risks and hazards (in suitable language), and the importance of control measures, though everyone should be allowed to express their creativity with dramatic scenes. These should be read over again and again, to make sure that the story structure still makes sense and that the main points are all covered. Don’t do this too loudly, or you’ll give away the story!
  1.  Assemble the finished scenarios and narrative together in the order they’re to go in. Check the whole story through to make sure it makes sense, no matter what pathway the reader chooses. Also, check that all aspects of the assigned topic have been covered. Continue until each group is happy with their finished story.
  2.  When all of the stories are finished and everyone’s happy with them, swap! Groups may have to split to try other people’s stories, in case the producers of the story need to answer questions from the readers. Everyone should try and read each story with their group. This may involve backtracking throughout to try different scenarios.
  1.  Come together to discuss the stories and think about whether they covered all of the ‘need-to-knows’ for each topic. Everyone may suggest a story that they feel communicated a point particularly well. Talk about practical skills they can learn together as a group to help overcome potential future risks and hazards while hillwalking or mountaineering.

Reflection

Risk is a part of everyone’s daily life. We must accept that we cannot live risk-free, but we can identify and evaluate potential hazards and choose how much risk we expose ourselves to and how to prepare and respond. How did the stories help you see risks and hazards that you may otherwise have disregarded? What will you do differently in future when hillwalking or mountaineering?

Chat as a group about the following statement: ‘Assessing risk is a tool we can use to help us find out what we can do, rather than what we can’t do’.

Safety

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.