/ 11 year olds carrying exped packs

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girlymonkey - on 15 Oct 2013
I have been booked to take a bunch of teenagers on a 3 day exped, so planned a route from Victoria bridge (near bridge of Orchy) over to Taynuilt via loch etive. This seemed reasonable exped for teenagers. I have now been told that I have three 11 year olds and a 12 year old as part of the group, and one of the 11 year olds has written on the equipment request that she has size 2 feet. I've never had such young kids carrying exped packs - anyone taken kids of this age on multi days and what's the chances of this being feasible? There are some older kids too, and quite a few adults, so we can share some of the weight around, but the company have stupidly heavy kit for them anyway (vango self inflating mats rather than foam ones, really heavy stoves etc).
ark05 - on 15 Oct 2013
many kids do their bronze d of e at 13. So not massively younger.
ccmm on 15 Oct 2013 - 212.219.255.65 whois?
In reply to girlymonkey:

Sounds like an epic in the making.

I've not taken folk that young out overnight but have taken them up plenty of (wee) hills at work. Pre-teens tend to moan a bit less than teenagers and I've found that by the time they complain they really are broken. If you've got loads of big folk to share the weight I'd probably divvy it all up at the start to minimise blisters, demoralisation etc.

You could quite possibly end up having to split the group, with the worst case scenario of the wee ones turning back with competent adults.

The company who organised this could be setting them up to fail. On the other hand they could be little tigers and go on forever. Hard to say without meeting them.

Rather you than me though.
balmybaldwin - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

The problem I see is that if they are over loaded, you could end up putting them off for life.

Is it a possibility to get some one to provide some support with a van, moving the heaviest stuff - tents, matts, water etc so the kids still have to carry stuff, but aren't so overburdened that you end up with exhausted kids?
Alyson - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: When I was 11 I did a 3 day, 2 night expedition with friends, carrying everything we needed including heavy tents, stoves and - in my case - 3 tins of beans. We navigated ourselves too. I think, looking back, it was only about 6-8 miles a day though.
Jamie B - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

They'll certainly need smaller (not just lighter) rucksacks, and you'll need to plan escape routes and the possibility of adults having to escort them back to a road-head.

Sounds like a tough one, as others have said fitness/toughness of kids that age is hugely variable. But it doesn't sound like massive mileage, assuming you're not planning on bagging hills en-route?
Irk the Purist - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

I have experience of 14 year olds and wild camping and you have to be very strict on weight even at that age and the physical difference between 11 and 14 is huge, as is the variability of the kids. Some 11 year olds just won't be strong enough to carry that weight.

The problem is exacerbated because young kids don't tend to have expensive kit, so it's all heavier than yours too. On occasion, I've swapped my bag for the smallest member of the group or put lots of heavy, team gear in my bag, leaving them with lighter bags but retaining an expedition feel.

At that age I'd certainly think twice about 3 days and I'd consider transporting the tents/fuel by car. I'd also impose a weight limit on the bags (10kg absolute max inc water) and I'd have check them for fit and weight at least two weeks before to give them a chance to change things. You don't want them miserable. Miserable children walk even slower. If it's wet, shorten your days, rain saps the moral from kids faster than it gets them wet.

And carry chocolate.
johncoxmysteriously - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

Doesn't sound remotely practical to me, frankly.

jcm
Mark Bull - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

That's rather a committing route with no easy opt outs. It might work better to do a short walk in to a base camp and then do a couple of walks with day packs from there?
peas65 - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

I dont know the area but 11 year olds on expedition will need careful looking after, we work with many 13 year olds doing their bronze d of e and even at that age it is a shock having to do everything for themselves.

The best way to manage it sounds like splitting group gear amongst the adults/others and just getting the young ones to carry their own food/clothes. That should give them enough weight to not feel they are missing out.

i think a lot of it will depend on background/experience - if they are fit or not or used to walking.

Does sound like you could have an interesting few days :)
The New NickB - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to adamki:

13 year olds tend to be a lot bigger than 11 year olds and even if not much taller, stronger. It would be a concern for me.
duchessofmalfi - on 15 Oct 2013
The big problem here is that "11 year old" is not an adequate description. I know 11 year olds who wouldn't make it out the car park and I know 11 year olds who'll give all but the best adults a run for their money on pace, distance and difficulty. However, a lot of the toughest kids flag badly on boring ground so I'd go for short and challenging myself.

Don't be afraid to ask what sort you are getting - and have contingency plans to cope with a wide range of scenarios. Don't underestimate the drag of an under-fit adult being dragged along with a super fit child.

Bargin on their keeping packs light, carrying extra warm / dry clothes, doing the donkey work at camp and feeding frequently - NB this last point regardless of the toughness of the child an under-powered one is always hard work.

Toerag - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: At 11 they'll mostly be "mummy's boys", at 13 they'll mostly be "sulky teenagers". The mummy's boys will struggle to carry more than their personal kit - giving them bits of tent and stove will give you hassle. I'm sure they can do it, but they're soooooo slow. Kit WILL be a problem, I reckon only 20% will have decent footwear and waterproofs. Sleeping bags will be massive things with no compression sacks. Pretty much all of them will never have walked for more than an hour, kids these days only go from house to car to activity then back again - they have no concept of the need to keep warm and dry. Some also like to carry as much as they can, every few years we unpack the bag of a whinging scout only to discover that they've deliberately packed something like a wet towel to make themselves seem tougher!
Toerag - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: Even the 2 litres of water they'll need to be 'self sufficient' is a massive percentage of their packweight. They won't have decent water bottle either, expect to find Highland spring bottles with flip lids......
Jim C - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

Find the biggest guy in the group , and put the guy with size 2 feet in his rucksack (he will never notice :)

Seriously. Sounds like, you will have to spread the wee guys share of the kit amongst the others.
TomBaker - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
Stupid question, but i'm pretty sure my self inflating sleeping mat is not only lighter than crappy foam ones but smaller to pack as well.
girlymonkey - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: These are kind of echoing my initial thoughts. Unfortunately this has been put to me last minute, I was told they would be 14 and over! I don't have a chance to meet them first. I was thinking about a base camp option instead, and might go with that one. The 11 year olds are all girls, which means they are likley to be a bit bigger as they will have started growing mostly. They are also, though, likely to have very narrow shoulders for a rucksack!!
girlymonkey - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to TomBaker: Your self inflating mat will be a good one - the vango ones are not!! I still carry a foam one, as I can't afford a self inflating one that is as light. Weight for me is key (I'm tiny so keep kit to an absolute minimum), foam ones can go on the outside easily enough
avictimoftheDrpsycho - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Toerag:
> (In reply to girlymonkey) ...expect to find Highland spring bottles with flip lids......

Oh no! And they won't have all the latest 300 Arc'teryx coats, La Sportiva Nepal boots or even the obligatory Haglofs trousers!
Bloody plebs... don't know how they'll possibly manage.

Timmd on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to willexodus:
> (In reply to Toerag)
> [...]
>
> Oh no! And they won't have all the latest 300 Arc'teryx coats, La Sportiva Nepal boots or even the obligatory Haglofs trousers!
> Bloody plebs... don't know how they'll possibly manage.

I think the point is that they're more likely to break and leak?
ads.ukclimbing.com
scarface - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

I'll never forget seeing a bunch of young mixed teenagers on a D of E trip coming off Lose Hill in the rain in cheap lilac waterproofs, kit hanging and banging off the huge backpacks. Wasn't encouraging. They all looked thoroughly pissed off.
avictimoftheDrpsycho - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Timmd:

Yes people may think they're more likely to break, but in my experience this is not the case.
wilkesley - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
As others have said it depends on the 11 yr olds. When one of my daughters was 11 I took her on a 2 day trip over the Carneds. However, she is built like a stick insect, so the only thing she carried was her sleeping bag, mat and some spare clothing. The first day was up from the A5 via the reservoir road and camping on Llewellyn. Day two was continuing along the ridge and down Pen yr Ole Wen. For her that was hard enough to be OK, but not so hard that she felt she couldn't cope. She definitely wouldn't have coped with a full three day exped.
girlymonkey - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: Yeah, I'm thinking of starting at Taynuilt, and walking up the side of loch Etive. This way we can do a base camp at several points Glen noe being one, or carrying on up the lochside a bit further if they are doing ok. Then day 2 we could try heading high (ish!) if weather is ok, or just carry on up the lochside to Glen Kinglass and back if weather is foul. Day 3 walk out again. Seems like a route with more options. It's so frustrating when these things are dumped on you last minute!!
The New NickB - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to wilkesley:

Taking one 11 year old is completely different from taking a group, with one you can take a lot of the weight and pay a lot more attention to how they are coping.
girlymonkey - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to The New NickB: i have 3 coming, and a 12 year old (so possibly not much bigger), in a group of 10 young people. So a reasonably high proportion of the group
Jamie B - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

> It's so frustrating when these things are dumped on you last minute!!

Don't knock it - at this time of year most of us freelancers would kill for some last-minute bookings!

999thAndy on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

If you absolutely have to take them on a 3 day exped. can you cache some kit at strategic points? food/tentage/fuel etc.

Also how many adults are going? If you're on your own with 12 under 14's I'd say call it off or call in some favours.
girlymonkey - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Jamie B: it's not the booking that's last minute, but the fact there are such young ones. When I got booked and confirmed the route i was told they were 14 and over! Yes, I am grateful to have work, am doing well for it this year, but don't want an epic on my hands.
I have a trainee with me and 2 youth leadery types, so we have go adults to share the load, and I have a revised shortened route, so hopefully will be fine
Jamie B - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

I'm sure you'll be fine if you have plenty of contingencies and everyone understands the need to work together and for flexibility. You just don't know what's coming, in terms of weather and their performance, but such is the joy of our profession!
neilh - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
I have experience of sending 11 year olds on two day expeditions with kit through scouts.We limit the load they carry at max 7kg for 11 - 12.5 years old. So they generally carry everything except the tent. I have had some very small 11 yearold girls/lads complete this in low level country ( edge of Peaks) very succesfully.They cook everything themsleves, put up tents, navigate etc in pairs.Done it forabout 4 years at this time of the year.We encourage them to get below 7Kg and it is possible.

So yes its feasiable provided you use common sense on the weight.
Jamie B - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to neilh:

> So yes its feasiable provided you use common sense on the weight.

And use rucksacks that are actually designed for little people.

neilh - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

yes. also depending on the time of the year those small childrens sleeping bags are okish, about half the size of normal ones. As long as they have that silver foil stuff as well, then they are usually ok.
dmhigg - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to neilh: This time of year, I'd definitely find a basecamp. (Maybe even a proper campsite!) You get to enjoy Autumn in the highlands, but you have enough kit to keep warm and fed in potentially troublesome weather. Is wild camping one of the aims of the trip? When you're 11, sleeping in the garden can be an adventure. My kids happily trot up Munros but grind to a halt when I put anything more than a nominal load on them.
marsbar - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: I've taken Scouts that size on overnight trips carrying everything, but not on such a remote trip or for more than 1 night. FWIW, we weighed everything and didn't let the smaller ones take more than 1/4 of their body weight, and we checked their kit and ditched everything unnecessary.

My concern is that they might manage 1 day, but 3 in a row might be too much.
Gav M - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

Your route only takes a few hours on a bike and is on good paths all the way, so it won't exactly be a death march if done over 3 days.

Do Scouts not start at 11? I was certainly a Scout when in P7 and we did half the West Highland Way over 5 days while carrying cotton Force 10s, I was older then but the youngest in the party was probably 11 or maybe 12 and they coped.

Toerag - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to willexodus:
> (In reply to Timmd)
>
> Yes people may think they're more likely to break, but in my experience this is not the case.

If they get leant against in a rucsac side pocket the lids pop open. If they get dropped the lids break off.
I tell my scouts to use 1 litre fizzy drink (coke) bottles - free, lightweight and more than tough enough. It doesn't take long to lose a litre of water through a faulty fliplid. Oh, camelbaks & dromedary bags are no good either, they either leak in the bag due to bad packing or lack of tightening the openings; or the lads drink the contents too quickly without realising 'cos they can't see them.
Trangia - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to balmybaldwin:
> (In reply to girlymonkey)
>
> The problem I see is that if they are over loaded, you could end up putting them off for life.
>
>

I agree. I did the South Downs Way with my two sons when they were 9 and 11. They only carried their own sleeping bags, karimats, waterproofs and water - about 15 lb each, and that was enough, particularly for the younger one. I carried my own gear plus the tent, cooking stuff and food - about 40 lb.

We were self supporting, and did 80 miles in 4 days which was great considering their ages. They were pretty tired but enjoyed it and both went on to doing serious long distance back packing as adults, including taking their old dad on the Fish River Canyon a few years ago, but I'm glad that I didn't overload or push them too hard risking putting them off for life.
LastBoyScout on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

From what I remember of DofE and Scout expeditions, they shouldn't be carrying more than 25% of their own bodyweight.

If they are over that, you'll need to make provision for either sharing out their kit among the stronger ones, or transporting the heavier items, like tents, for them.
Carolyn - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> From what I remember of DofE and Scout expeditions, they shouldn't be carrying more than 25% of their own bodyweight.

And from what I remember from actually picking up DofE kids rucsacs, they're usually a whole lot more ;-)

But yes, well worth making efforts to reduce what they have to carry as far as possible. If it's only short distances, and there are enough competent adults, there's always the possibility of an adult doing an extra trip to ferry 3 tents to the next campsite or similar.
nufkin - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to Carolyn:

> from what I remember from actually picking up DofE kids rucsacs, they're usually a whole lot more

Exactly. My appreciation of light gear stems from all the misery of overloaded DofE expeditions.
Also my dislike of Trangia stoves
marsbar - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to Carolyn: With kids of 11 or 12 I would stick rigidly to the 1/4 body weight limit. D of E kids are a bit older and further on in the growing process.
pass and peak - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
Hi, Let me start by saying I don't have an in depth of experience in taking out young groups in the UK.
Now in answer to your original question it seems your only worry is you have had at short notice some extra dimension added to your trip that could potentially upset your plans. Remember you made your plan on the original info you were given, so the ball is in your court when the client/group wants to change it! Perhaps a group meet at their expense in advance of the exped would give you a chance to gauge their abilities, try and let it be on the premiss that all are included and the plan goes ahead, despite what other comments people have suggested, you won't know the group until you meet them, or even until the end of the 3 days for that matter. if this is not possible perhaps technology, Skype video chat etc. The most important thing is that you establish yourself as the boss/leader and for you to know, Are They All a TEAM at the beginning and do they all want to be on the trip? If they are all a team including the young ones then you don't have a problem, as the stronger ones can be made to feel important by looking after the weaker ones. If they're all a bunch of couch potato individuals (unlikely) then you're well within your rights to change the plan, even exclude those who you feel unable to benefit from this trip.
You know sometimes you may be surprised, it may well be that those young ones are actually the one that make the trip a success. To summarize, speak too at least the youngers ones and make your thoughts known to the group organisers from the start. Only after that will you have the necessary info to plan accordingly
alexgoodey on 18 Oct 2013
I take out scouts aged 10-18, and the physical differences between different ages are huge (particularly at the bottom end), it's not just about physical size, but also toughness of bones, joints, tendons and muscles. Growing bodies are fast healing, but also vulnerable to damage.

The 6-8kg limit seems sensible, with tents and stoves (for example) transported separately.. no-one should carry more than 1/3rd of their bodyweight because it may cause structural damage.

As has been alluded to, Scouts are a bit different because they do these sorts of activities all the time, but DofE is more in line with what you're suggesting and that doesn't start covering 3 day trips until participants are 15 - much bigger than typical 11 year olds.

You should also factor in a good number of water re-fill stops if they're carrying under 2 litres.

If kids aren't used to weight or this type of activity, then they won't cope.

Light training with packs in familiar terrain is a good idea before the trip, to build fitness and confidence. After one recent trip, one of the participants that struggled has been training with a rucksack full of bricks wrapped in towels, dropped by her parents in random places and told to walk home in time for dinner. It's map-reading training too.

Even if you obey the 1/3rd rule, you can still get issues - I recently had a participant (a ballet dancer, student, who is a very slight - 37kg - but unusually strong girl) aged 17 unable to cope with a 12kg bag after 2 days hillwalking in which her group covered around 10 miles. So always best to be safe than sorry.

Err on the side of caution and you'll be fine!
Rob Naylor - on 20 Oct 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

I'll echo what others have said about kids at 11 being very different to each other.

I started taking each of mine into the hills "proper" at about 6 (the age they each did Scafell Pike for the first time). By 11 they were all doing long wild-camping weekend trips with me, usually in mountainous terrain.

I did keep their personal loads down to 6-8 kg in total, by carrying everything but their sleeping bags, waterproofs, food and water myself, which was a heavy load for me with tent and overnight food.

I do remember carrying heavy loads with crap rucksacks at about that age in scouts, but I do also remember several friends at the time straining and injuring themselve....I think we know a bit more about the mechanics of growing bodies now than we did 50 years ago, so no need to repeat the mistakes of the past on an "it were good enough for me when I were a kid" basis.

But as you're aware of the situation now, you can plan for it, check the youngest's loads, be ruthless about knocking back unnecessary items and distribute necessary heavies amongst the others/ yourself.

I've taken the odd group of youngsters out myself, and I do recommend a FULL kit inspection....I've seen 12 year old girls with full makeup bags in their rucksacks....not to mention 2-3 pairs of "smart" trousers and tops for a wild camp weekend!
alexgoodey on 21 Oct 2013
Ooh I can beat that, had a Silver DofE group of 5 who between them were carrying 3kg of fresh meat. SPARE.

Yes, they still carried 2kg :)
Scottie Boy - on 01 Nov 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: Far be it from me to question why you are asking these questions given you have been "booked" for this trip - suitably qualified mountain leaders, Scout leaders, DoE exped leaders etc. would know how to address your concerns but there is lots of good advice in this forum. HOWEVER, we walked via Glenkinglass to Victoria Bridge last May and the bridge over the river south of Clashgour was completely gone - the river was crossable then by wading straight across (1-2 feet deep) but you might want to check first if the bridge has been repaired before your trip (and note that it will have to be a substantial bridge as the river is quite wide). If not, it could be very difficult/dangerous to get across the river in Autumn/winter if its in spate never mind the cold feet and wet/boots/socks and kids issue and right at the start of your walk. Nice walk down the glen though - hope this helps and good luck!
In reply to Scottie Boy: The bridge over Allt Gabhar (NN238420) was still missing in September, but if you head upstream past the house there's supposed to be another bridge up there (it's on the Harvey 1:40k map but I didn't bother looking for myself as it was wadable in the missing bridge spot when I passed). Once you've crossed the burn you might have to hack back downstream off-path to get back onto your route - again, I've not done this so I don't know what the ground's like (suspect, thick pines and boggy tussocks). Back on the main glen trail, the footbridge over the Abhainn Shira (NN233418) is fine.

Sorry, I say 'you' I guess I'm talking to the OP
Scottie Boy - on 07 Nov 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com: Good point Dan, and we thought the same; but it's still always worth knowing/getting info. on your route esp. if you're responsible for a group (incl. kids). Everyone's cold and tired, its late getting dark and its sheeting it down and you think you're at the end of your walk and you find the bridge is down. This can be when wrong decisons are made. That whole area is really boggy - even the "path" east after the downed bridge can be a bogfest. Might be worth a wee day walk from Victoria bridge beforehand? just to at least survey that section as the rest is prob. OK - at least one bridge to the west of Loch Dochard has also gone recently but there are (albiet) rickety signs pointing to the new one (signs are from whichever direction you come). Was tempted to post a comment about the Inveroran Hotel but I'll leave that alone...

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