If you think the last thing you’d want to do is deal with the aftermath of your camping trip,

THEN you are wrong.

The last thing you want to do

is deal with the aftermath of someone else’s camping trip:

Believe me!

Having said that, as I gazed over the tent city that occupied my backyard, all I could think about was project management practices and training.  I thought, “what did I get myself into?”  I then reminded myself that hopefully I would be remembered as a good team-player and mother… But, let me explain from the beginning.

My boys went on another one of their camping trips with the 8th Newmarket Scout Troop. [Incidentally they are in the Venturer program not the younger  Scouts program.] This trip involved a 4+ hour drive  to the Bruce Peninsula National Park (further than most 2 day camps) and there was a bleak weather forecast (typical for this Venturer Group).  Mother Nature didn’t disappoint: the scenery was incredible, the rain torrential and they set ‘a first’ for their group: they went to the laundry to dry some sleeping bags and clothes.  They had a great time and returned home safely: tired, wet and dirty. My husband dashed off to catch a flight and then all the boys disappeared: wet camping equipment still in our garage.

Exams loomed for the boys and the timing to get assistance from the Group was very tight. The weather forecast was grim: rain all week. Replacing moldy tents would be several hundred dollars: What we were going to do?

Then a ray of hope: actually of sunshine. The weather radar looked like we may have a few hours of sun before the rain started again. Luckily my work schedule was flexible enough to accommodate opening up numerous tents, a shelter, ground sheets and tarps. However, I wasn’t prepared for the mud covered everything. Needless to say this was a multi-step process: open up the equipment, hose off the mud, dry the equipment, re-inspect and start all over again if necessary.  The messy work was completed when the boys arrived after school: they worked as a team and folded up all the tents, tarps and shelters.

Now what does this have to do with Training?

Many focus on preparation and delivery of teaching, training while they ignore what should happen in the aftermath of training (or any project).

1-Schedule the time (and personnel) to deal with the ‘aftermath’ of training. This goes beyond the ‘tear-down’ and storage of equipment and extends into the training material. One needs to leave all material ready to use in the future. So, remove unwanted content (like a wet sock in a tent) and fill the holes/bridge the gaps. Just like with camping: You won’t remember where the hole was when you are in a hurry to set up the next time around.

 2-Ask for and examine participant feedback:  it may surprize you. One may think that given the inclement weather the Venturers would have had a marginal time: on the contrary they had the BEST time battling the elements!  [I will examine ‘the art’ of feedback in detail in upcoming posts.]

3-Take the time to reflect as the deliverer. What did we do that we would do again? What should we do differently? Jotting down these ideas right after training will capture them; otherwise, you may not remember specific challenges (or victories) until you encounter them again.

4-Exploit all windows of opportunity, even if the timing is inconvenient or the task at hand is ‘not your job’. Yes, I was tired and I didn’t want to do all the work for my boys by drying out the tents for them. On the other hand, I probably saved the Group a lot of money as they would have had to replace all the tents.

So much can be gained by taking the time after a training session, or any project. Applying the lessons learned and fixing the challenges faced will have a profound positive impact on results going forward. Just ask my boys who had to deal with someone else’s dirty dishes the night they were packing to go camping. Now to get them not to leave dirty dishes in my kitchen sink…

Until next time, this is ‘Scoutess Anne’ , as the boys call me…