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Testing a Hybrid Course

The problem in need of a solution is how to best assure nobody contracts the coronavirus — guides or guests — and that we all stay safe while still conducting quasi-normal business operations. Particularly as we start edging into the colder months and want to move indoors to warm up. Thankfully at Redline Guiding we don’t really do much indoors and our outdoor pursuits are usually well distanced. Our Basecamp is mostly used to meet before our adventures, where we conduct a covid-19 screening of sorts, and briefly outfit our guests with gear. (This will be done with masks on, and some of which will have to be done in shifts and/or partially outdoors. We will limit things like it seems many schools will.)

We also use our indoor spaces to teach certain classes such as the first half of our full day Wilderness Navigation course. We might be able to do this for one or two people, but it would mean a prolonged exposure, albeit a masked one. We wanted a safer solution; we wanted to try combining the moderately successful virtual classroom with the real world. It would mean breaking a full day into two halves which costs us more time and money, but that’s really a small price to pay for safety. We’ve dialed in teaching navigation via teleconferencing — it works. And the other classes that end up with students indoors for an extended period — Winter Skills, Camp Craft, and our Hiking Introduction — are even easier to do remotely. Everything else has a very brief indoor segment, which can be moved outdoors pretty successfully. Some may remember our roots: our first two-and-a-half years were spent working out of a cargo van… so we can do this. Time to combine our methods.

We tested this “hybrid day” with a navigation course taught by Redline Guide Mike Cherim. We did the first half day remotely, then a week later we conducted the in-field portion. In between our guests, a father-daughter team, were given some homework and were told to practice and keep sharp. They did. And they did it well. Check out these photos of their successful afternoon. We rarely publish blog posts about our classes, but this one is special. It’s new ground. We are ready to innovate.

Echo Lake State Park in North Conway was welcoming. We called ahead. We hadn’t seen those folks for ages.

These are good woods to learn in so students aren’t overwhelmed by the jungle.

We both wore masks whenever close assistance was needed. Lots of talking and a little hands on… well, better safe than sorry.

Same with the father, as we had just gotten in close. Some close contact is inevitable so care must be taken. Simple.

We throw a little bit of a curveball at some point (we can’t give it away here), but the stuff gets a little more real.

After Echo Lake we head to the Intervale Outlook where we triangulate our position and do other fun stuff. Tourists are staring.

Partly home-schooled, partly not — everything should be okay. And our guest seem clearly stoked to have acquired some new skills. Bravo.

Great job, team. Congratulations! Thank you for choosing Redline Guiding.

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