Facilitation of outdoor groups

  • Assessing needs
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Group development
  • Motivation and working together
  • Trust
  • An 'ego-free' approach
  • Roles

Sometimes you come back from a trip with a glow of warmth and a sense of fun, feeling that everyone had an enjoyable time with a group of people who developed as friends during the trip. On other occasions you can return from a trip and feel as though the group didn't gel; perhaps there were disagreements that weren't dealt with well and while the goal may have been achieved, it wasn't as enjoyable as it might have been. Of course on some trips there will be extenuating circumstances, but often the difference is in the capacity of the leader to develop and integrate the group.

As part of the task of leading a group and helping them achieve their goal, the outdoor leader takes many different roles and needs to draw on a wide variety of skills. The skill of facilitation ensures that the people processes and the process of getting to the goal work hand-in-hand, resulting in the greatest satisfaction for the greatest number. A facilitator is one who helps a group achieve its aims, drawing out their skills and energies and helping in the coordination of inputs towards a common goal.

The skill of doing this comes more easily to some people than others, but it is a skill that all competent outdoor leaders must develop. Effective group facilitation is built on a number of components that a good facilitator needs to understand, including:

  • assessing needs
  • good interpersonal communication
  • an appreciation of the process of group development
  • motivation of group members to work together for the good of the group
  • the development of mutual trust
  • an ‘ego-free’ approach to leadership, ensuring you have no attachment to an outcome for your own needs rather than for the overall good of the group
  • an understanding of group roles.