Getting started with planning your expedition can be a daunting thought but don’t worry, there’s plenty of advice and guidance here to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
The first step on the road to expedition success starts with having a coherent proposal and a strong and organised student leader. When an expedition is one of a continuing series (e.g. Trinidad, Ecuador), it is common for the associated staff member to select the undergraduate leader. Alternatively, a potential leader may volunteer from among the membership of the previous year’s expedition and in this case, such a person should discuss their suitability with the Ex Soc President (Stewart White). Leading an expedition is a huge honour and privilege, and also a big responsibility.
When a student (or students) wishes to propose a new expedition and is keen to act as leader, please discuss the suitability of the expedition with Stewart.White@glasgow.ac.uk in advance of the Ex Soc proposals meeting which usually takes place the first week of October. Find out more by clicking here.
The proposals evening is your first opportunity to outline your hopes and dreams. In early October, you’ll have the chance to put together a short presentation highlighting the basic aims and logistics. These will likely change based on the make-up of your team, but this is your chance to inspire society members to apply. You’ll have to have application forms ready as you’ll likely have people beating down your door to apply.
After setting a suitable deadline and making arrangements (usually with Stewart White) for application forms to be collected you’ll have to decide who to pick to join the expedition team. Normally you’ll set a date soon after the proposals meeting to have interviews to pick your team.
The student leader, if chosen before the interviews take place, should take part in the interview process. Interviews should be conducted by two people at least, of which one should normally be a member of staff. You are attempting to establish from the interview how suitable a candidate will be. Much of the necessary information will be on the application form, but the interview can establish personality factors, such as whether a candidate is likely to be good as a member of a team working closely in isolated circumstances over several weeks.
You also need to establish whether candidates have good ideas for fundraising and whether they have the time to be actively involved in expedition planning and preparations. You need to make clear to candidates that joining an expedition team is a commitment, not an entitlement, and that planning an expedition is a demanding, co-operative activity that each member needs to be willing to contribute to: anyone who looks like they have problems with this is likely to become a liability eventually.
You can get a bit more information and guidance here: Choosing Your Team.
Once the team is selected it’s vital that you get things under way quickly. We recommend that expedition teams meet weekly during the planning stages. It is VITAL that the leader share out tasks so that all members have well-defined roles and deadlines to meet.
Here is a checklist of tasks that need to be dealt with:
• Prospectus (see full guide here) and risk assessment preparation (see full guide here).
• Working on your research plans (advice on possible methods here).
• Fund-raising (see full guide here).
• Travel and insurance arrangements.
• Identify and organise any necessary health arrangements.
• Identify and organise any special training needs (all expeditions must have a qualified First Aider). ExSoc normally organises fieldwork safety and First Aid courses.
This is just the beginning – the key to a successful team is flexibility and willingness of all your team to work together. Organising some social events so you can get to know each other early is probably a good idea too.
If you have any further questions at this stage please don’t hesitate to get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.