An Adventure but not on Water – Towpath Talk, June 2017

In this article Derek Stansfield, Director of Training for the NCBA outlines two initiatives that the NCBA have undertaken over the past year that have proofed to be an exciting and instructive experience.

An old mentor of mine once said that if you know the outcome of your journey, whether this be an expedition, an activity or a project, then it is no longer adventurous.  Obviously if we take this in its extreme of an expedition to tackle a new route on a mountain such as Everest or K2, or a single-handed sail round the world then this applies.  It equally applies on smaller ventures such as Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions etc.  We may know where we want to be, or to get to, but things may happen on the way that divert you from this course or make the journey more difficult or demanding than first envisaged.  We can of course relate this concept to anything we tackle even if it not necessarily a physical venture.

We can, therefore, apply this hypothesis to two undertakings that the NCBA have embarked on over the last year or so.  The outcome was at first clearly understood in what we wanted to achieve and this was clearly focused.  However, the path has not always been a smooth one and it could be argued that it has been an adventure in many ways with considerable ups and downs on the way.

The first of these endeavours has been to totally revamp the NCBA website.  Although the content of the web site is still as relevant now as when first created there were perceived problems with its presentation and navigation.  A small working party was set up to look at the site and to work with Luke Slowen, the website administrator, in bringing this up to date and making more user friendly.

The find a member tag is now shown geographically and the member’s own area will be easier for them to updates themselves.  Most of the past Towpath articles have been incorporated into the website as part of the ‘News’ section and thus provides an archive of useful information for both members and visitors to the site.

Whilst the new website is up and running we recognise that the work is not finished.  Teething problems will arise and suggestions for improvements will always be made and readily received.

The NCBA has, as was described in detail in a previous Towpath article, a progressive training and assessment scheme consisting of the Community Crew Certificate, The Boat Handling Curse and the Certificate in Community Boat Management.  These have all had their separate Course Profiles and syllabi.  There has been a demand for these to be held in one document that contains information on all courses and that can be used practically.

A small team was set up to produce such a document and it was soon evident that the production of such an undertaking was to be an adventure lasting over a year.  Consultation took place with workshops at the Annual Conference and continuous input from the National Training Committee (NTC).  It was not intended for the document to be in competition with any others such as the CRT Boater’s Handbook and the RYA Inland Waterways Handbook, but to rather compliment them and concentrate on the NCBA awards.  Therefore, the title of the document was an effort in itself and went through many manifestations.  The final outcome being ‘NCBA Courses – Notes for Trainers’.  Although its title suggests that it is primarily for Trainers candidates may also find the content useful.  The final document will be in a ring binder format so that pages can be taken out and used on the boat thus alleviating the need to take out the full document.  This therefore relies on all pages being suitable waterproofed.  The date for launch of the document has yet to be decided but will be during the current season.

My thanks are due to the team that worked with me on this project including: Richard Clarke, Bob Ratcliffe and Paul Unwin, and of course the NTC.

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