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Award Leader Training

Adventurous Journey Section


What's it all about?

The Adventurous Journey is about participants going on an Exploration or Expedition in an unfamiliar environment. It gives participants the chance to learn more about their wider environment, including the environmental impact their and others’ activities have. Teamwork, leadership, decision making and social connection are key components of the Adventurous Journey.

The idea is to engage the group (which cannot be a family group) in adventurous and challenging activities, using a non-motorised mode of travel all while staying within a safe setting achieved through suitable training and supervision.


What types of journey are involved?

There are two main types of Adventurous Journeys:

  • Expeditions - a journey with a purpose where the primary focus is on the journeying with roughly two thirds of the purposeful effort spent on journeying depending on the local circumstances. Participants should ideally stay in a different campsite or hut each night.
  • Explorations - a purpose with a journey where the primary focus is to observe and collect information relevant to the purpose. e.g. an outdoor scientific study of local flora and fauna. More time and effort are spent on this than the journeying, however roughly one third of the purposeful effort should still be spent on the journeying, depending on the local circumstance and taking into account any medical or physical restriction the participant(s) are living with. For an Exploration the group can stay in a hut or tent at a basecamp for the duration of the Adventurous Journey.

What are the key requirements for an Adventurous Journey?

There are 15 key requirements for all Adventurous Journeys. These requirements can be found in the International Handbook for Award Leaders  (see page 83-85 for further information).

  1. All journeys must have a clearly defined aim.
  2. The group size for all journeys must be between 4-7 members (who should be people of a similar age). All participants must have completed suitable training and have the appropriate skills to undertake the journey.
  3. All participants must have undergone suitable training to have the appropriate skills confidently to undertake their journeys.
  4. All members of the group must be involved with the planning and preparation of both their Practice and Qualifying Journey.
  5. All participants must undertake at least one Practice Journey per level prior to the Qualifying Journey.
  6. All participants must use the same mode of travel for their Qualifying Journey that they did for their Practice Journey. Participants must use a mode of travel that requires their own effort.
  7. The environment chosen must be unfamiliar to the participant.
  8. The suggested minimum hours of purposeful effort are 6 hours for Bronze, 7 hours for Silver and 8 hours for Gold.
  9. On an Expedition, at least two thirds of the purposeful effort must be spent on journeying with the remainder working towards the overall aim.
  10. On an Exploration, at least one third of the purposeful effort requirement must be spent journeying with the remainder working towards the overall aim.
  11. All journeys must be supervised and assessed by suitable and experienced adults (the suitability and experience are determined by your organisation’s Safety Management System).
  12. Accommodation must be in portable tents or huts.
  13. All members of the group must carry sufficient food, water and equipment to be self-sufficient throughout the journey.
  14. All participants must prepare and consume a substantial meal each day.
  15. On completion of the Qualifying Journey, the team is required to deliver a report to their Assessor. This can be verbal, written, photographic or digital.


What's the process for planning and doing an Adventurous Journey?

The process at Bronze, Silver and Gold is the same but the level of training, length of journeys and experience required increases from Bronze to Gold.


Preparation and Training

Training is required to ensure that all group members undertake the journey safely. Safety is the top priority and the Assessor should be satisfied that a participant is technically able to carry out the Practice Journey before signing them off. A Preparation and Training Guide can be found on our website but the exact training requirements will be determined by the chosen Adventurous Journey. Topics include:

  • First Aid and emergency procedures
  • Route planning
  • Navigation
  • Leadership
  • Group and Risk management
  • Understanding the impact of the journey on the environment
  • Leave No Trace principles


Practice Journey

All participants must undertake sufficient Practice Journeys to ensure that they can complete the Qualifying Journey safely. The journey must take place in a similar environment to the Qualifying Journey and use the same mode of travel.


Qualifying Journey

During the Qualifying Journey the group should be as self-sufficient and independent as reasonably possible given the organisation’s Safety Management System they are operating under and considering the local circumstances and terrain. After the Journey the Assessor should debrief the journey with the group, for example, some outdoor providers (Accredited Award Providers) might choose to use a reflective learning process with the group to reflect on the Journey.


How long does it take to complete an Adventurous Journey?

Every Adventurous Journey (both Practice and Qualifying) has a required number of hours that participants must spend in ‘purposeful effort’. This is defined as ‘time spent towards accomplishing the purpose of the journey’.

The time requirements will depend on the type of journey being undertaken and the level of the Award. The total hours of purposeful effort are made up of the time spent journeying and everything else that occurs throughout the journey - including teaching moments, pack off activities, rest breaks, setting up camp and preparing meals.



Who assesses an Adventurous Journey?

All Journeys need to be assessed by an Assessor - a responsible adult who is suitably experienced and qualified to supervise the Journey and is not a family member. The exact qualifications and/or experience will be determined by your organisation’s Safety Management System. Their role is to assess the group in order to determine whether they have met the requirements of the journey including achieving their aim. The Assessor will write an assessor’s report upon successful completion of the Journey.

The Assessor is responsible for the group's safety while on the journey.  While the International Handbook for Award Leaders suggests that  the Assessor makes contact with the group once a day, in New Zealand, due to our environment and terrain, the Assessor should be present with the group throughout the Journey. This is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, to observe them in action in order to be able to assess the participants and secondly for safety reasons during both the Practice and Qualifying Journeys. The Assessor needs to remain close enough to the group to prevent any dangerous, or potentially dangerous, actions or behaviour.


Safety and Risk Management?

The Adventurous Journey, by its nature, contains an element of risk. Safety of participants is the top priority and should always be considered first before trying to meet the requirements of the Adventurous Journey (for example hours of purposeful activity). The Adventurous Journey must always be run through a Safety Management System. This could be the Award Unit’s Safety Management System (e.g. EOTC), or the Adventurous Journey could be run through an Accredited Award Provider. 


Adventurous Journey Supervisor, Assessor and Instructor?

The International Handbook for Award Leaders (page 87-89) defines four roles in the Adventurous Journey - the Award Leader, Instructor, Adventurous Journey Supervisor and Adventurous Journey Assessor. In New Zealand these roles are often one and the same, with the adult that delivers the Adventurous Journey training, and who goes on the Adventurous Journey with the group often acting as the Instructor as well as the Supervisor and Assessor. The Online Record Book separates the roles of Supervisor and Assessor and the different Adventurous Journey events (Practice and Qualifying) are signed off according to the role description in the Handbook.

To help clarify this we suggest that the adult who is going on the Adventurous Journey as the Assessor, and who will write an assessor’s report for the participant, be listed as both the Supervisor and Assessor in the Online Record Book.


Accredited Award Provider (AAP)

An Accredited Award Provider is an organisation that has a licence to run the Adventurous Journey section of the Award. The process for getting this licence is:

  • They have a staff member who has completed the Award Leader training and gone through the Award’s police vetting system.
  • They have signed the Award’s Terms and Conditions of the licence
  • They have provided the Award with evidence of a third-party audit of their Safety Management System.

Any participant or Award Unit using an AAP for their Adventurous Journey should satisfy themselves that the AAP’s policies, procedures and Safety Management System are current and meet their own Safety Management System requirements.



Ready to take the quiz?!

Click the link below to go to the Adventurous Journey quiz, then log in using the username and password that were sent to you when you signed up for this online training. Any questions? Please contact Email [email protected]

Take the quiz!

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