GUIDELINES FOR MPCs
The need for proper planning and care on the mountains cannot be over-emphasised.
With this in mind, please have all your team read through and familiarise themselves with all the details that have been sent to you. The map that has been sent to you should be used - not a photocopy of it.
The proposed route is enclosed but an important rule in hiking is flexibility since the weather conditions on the day of the event may necessitate changes to the route. With this in mind, familiarise yourself with the names of all the mountains in the area and their positions relative to each other.
The leader accompanying the team must be a commissioned leader, venturers are not leaders. Each leader should satisfy himself/herself that all team members are physically able to partake in this event.
Scouts must be at least 13½ years of age and at the time of the event not more than 16 years old and a member of the scout section. All team members including the leaders are requested to wear neckerchiefs.
These weekends are physically demanding and challenging and the weather can be bad, so a scout who suffers from asthma, for example, could be out of his/her depth. Medical consent forms are required for all scouts partaking in National events.
You must bring a consent form for each member of your team. The leader is responsible for his/her team at all times.
It is up to each team to provide their own transport to and from the MPC. Staff cannot be expected to provide transport for any team.
Planning the transport to and from the event is very much part of the MPC adventure. It is also good training for the scouts - checking timetables, busfares, trainfares etc. Teams may wish to get in touch with each other in order to hire a bus or travel together. For groups travelling by car - parking is generally available, but cars are parked at the owners risk.
Each team must supply all their own food for the weekend. The section dealing with menus in our handbook will be of great use here. Don't forget your emergency rations and your MARS bars!
It is worth mentioning that on previous MPCs, a number of scouts stated that they had not brought enough snacks with them and that their main meal was not substantial enough. We suggest that you consider using a pre-cooked meal - prepared by the scouts in advance, such as a stew or curry that only requires heating. This type of meal is preferable to many of the "boil-in-the-bag" or 'add hot water' type meals.
Remember you burn up a lot of energy when you are in the hills, exposed to the elements and carrying a heavy pack.
We will expect all team members to have proper equipment, in particular, raingear and boots.
"Peter Storm" type raincoats or PVC jackets with leggings are ideal and proper hiking boots are required. Team members should try to wear proper hiking boots, if these are unavailable trekking boots may be used. Doc Martens should be avoided but they will be accepted, if nothing better is available but they can prove to be very slippery in wet and mucky conditions and have caused problems for scouts in the past. Runner boots should be avoided.
It is also essential that everyone carries a hat, gloves, whistle and a torch. Please ensure that the raingear is easily accessed from your haversack. The inside of all haversacks should be lined with a heavy plastic bag or else all the contents should be wrapped in plastic bags. There is no such thing as a waterproof haversack.
Spare plastic bags are very useful for carrying wet clothes and rubbish. Try and have everything inside your haversacks. Avoid carrying unnecessary equipment and remember weight is always going to be a problem. The MPC handbook contains comprehensive equipment checklists.
All team members must carry a survival bag. We will not hesitate to refuse participation, if the team does not have this basic equipment.
Two tents should be sufficient for most teams. These should be broken up between the team for carrying purposes. Ensure that all team members are familiar with the tent and can pitch it! Practice pitching the tent in the dark.
On previous MPCs, some teams used only one tent for sleeping and stored haversacks outside the tent inside survival bags or inside very small tents. This can save on weight and helps to increase the heat inside the tent which is certainly desirable!
The tent itself should be lightweight and strong. Purpose built mountain tents are available such as the Vango Hurricane or Force 10, but these tents can be expensive. Good quality Dome tents (preferably the three-pole variety) or Tunnel Tents are quite acceptable. We have had some problems with teams not knowing how to pitch their tent and we have found two-pole dome tents unable to stand up in strong winds which are very common on the hills.
Cooking should be done on Trangias or Epigaz systems. Avoid bringing the larger Camping Gaz systems as they are quite heavy and inefficient in windy conditions. Don't forget to bring matches in a waterproof container and your fuel (meths - 1- 2 litres) or spare gas cartridges.
*** Note: Fires will not be permitted ***
We would like all leaders to take a back seat in these events. Explain mistakes to them and use the event as a training exercise and as an opportunity to get to know your scouts even better. This means that your own navigation must be spot-on. Constantly monitor the scouts in your team for any signs of tiredness, cold etc. and report any problems to the staff at the next available checkpoint.
Have each team member read through all the enclosed details and booklets and work out your route card together. Please try and improve your team's competence in the use of map and compass before this event. Try and have one or two practice runs - carrying full packs, if possible.
Up on the hills toilet facilities don't exist, but you'll always manage to find a peat hag, so prepare the scouts for this and don't forget toilet roll. Please ensure that everyone remembers the importance of personal hygiene.
Mass: If possible, we try to provide Mass at high camp on Saturday evening or early on Sunday morning. However, this is not generally possible and we hold a simple "Scouts Own" at basecamp on Sunday morning. Teams should try to attend Mass on Sunday evening.
It can be a long night sitting in a tent and you may have a lot of time on your hands and it is useful to bring a deck of cards or some form of game with you. Don't forget to bring a camera because they'll "never believe this on Monday"!
Please let the patrol try to perform the navigation. Do not have them follow you like sheep. However, the leader is responsible for his/her team at all times.
Following these basic guidelines, should help you have an enjoyable MPC adventure. Remember one of the aims of MPCs is to get you to organise and run these type of events yourself - so why not give it a try.