There's a funny thing about loving adventurous and sporting activities. We're all drawn to them for different reasons.
All incredibly personal reasons, there's not one reason why, and there are many others, and that is okay.
I have always wondered at nature, at ocean waves, or forests, or mountains, or sunsets. I also acknowledge I've had times when I've used activities in unhealthy ways. To numb the emotional pain of bereavement through managing risk, or through ramping up physical effort. I am still a risk taker, personally, but I have a couple of psychological handbrakes (daughters) that I can never fully disconnect my brain from. And, actually, this makes me better at managing risk (I think).
When I was younger, my Grandmother said to me "I hope you have lots of eeks, and not too many ouches". And this is still really valid.
At no-mad Adventures, we will always encourage you to manage your own safety. But, we're never going to take away your 'eeks'. 'Eeks' are those things where learning happens, without too much pain (ouches).
All the things that are in the bullet points above can slip over that line from eeks to ouches. Battering yourself just a bit too hard, beyond your fitness ability (or overtraining). "One last go" sits in the last moments of a day filled with fulfilment and enjoyment - fatigue is a good thing, but misjudgement here is likely a painful ouch. Friendship, when it becomes peer pressure often leads to an ouch (emotional or physical). And, exploration can be a place where just going too far away from a safe place is really uncomfortable.
Why has this made it to a blog post then? Well, it's something that formed the core of what we do. Making sure that people learn, which means generally leaving their 'safe zone' but not getting to their 'danger zone'.
This year it's great to see folk booking back on to courses. Absolutely fantastic. And, it's great to be back out supporting events with logistics and First Aid cover too.
However, because of the way that we work, there have also been a fair few cancellations. Frustrating for everyone, but, this is for a reason, and, this all links back together. Ironically, see footnote a frequent question is framed around "aren't you insured to work with more people"?
Because we deliver courses for awarding bodies, we have ratios that we can work to. However, at no-mad there are only very exceptional times that we get anywhere near those ratios. Teaching skills in environments where people are trusting us to explore spaces outside their personal 'safe zones' needs judgement to get the best outcomes. And whilst we could theoretically put more people on a course or activity (and reduce the likelihood of cancellation) we really don't believe we should (a link back to the title theme this late in a blog!).
If you're a regular reader here, you might remember 'People and Places, before profit" - some of the activities we do really lend themselves to a group of strangers meeting to go into a wild place. But, 10 strangers all with different reasons (Fitness, Fulfilment, Enjoyment, Friendship and Exploration) all have different needs. The profitability of running a day with eight people, instead of four is undeniably attractive, but, the quality isn't something we feel happy we can guarantee.
Hopefully this goes some way to explain why we run courses at lower ratios - quality of experience being at the top of the pile.
Yes, we're insured to run courses at higher ratios, and are happy to with groups and activities where quality isn't jeopardised. But, the feedback we've always had is that fewer people is a better experience, so whilst we could, we won't!
Footnote - The irony here, is that in Ash's role with UK Athletics, insurance is often a question for clubs and events which is being addressed with an information hub - read here: https://www.uka.org.uk/news/news-and-features/uk-athletics-and-marsh-launch-uk-athletics-insurance-hub/