There has been many a new phrase born of Covid; things that 18 months ago we’d never even heard of. Who amongst us had Zoomed, unmuted, socially distanced or been locked down? The world of outdoor education became, like many, a virtual concept; a remote industry with its fingers crossed that one day we’ll be able to wander round on a sunny day with a group of children blinking in the light, unlocked and free to explore. 
Before that we had to contend with another phrase – Skills fade
You see… working in an outdoor centre you need to be Jack and occasionally master of all: 
Canoeing on a lake or river one minute and rigging complex climbing systems the next. Guiding and protecting adventurous waterfall scrambles, then working out how the tide affects the sea cliffs on Anglesey. Or figuring out the best way off the mountain in the mist with a smile on your face and making sure you’ve got the right bits in your first aid kit and a good warm hat (even in August). 
Skills fade is getting brain freeze when it comes to working out the car shuttle on a river trip. It is not getting the right tension on the rigging ropes to hold a 16 year-old rugby player safely. It is forgetting your jacket as you’re too busy making sure your group of 10 year olds have theirs. It is turning up at the beach and staring glumly at the miniscule strip of sand available as you got the tide times 6 hours out. 
It is 18 months of instructional rust that needs to be knocked off the cogs so that they turn as slick and smooth as they need to. Then you can focus on the important bit; bringing children back to life from the long torpor of Covid sleep. 
We made a start recently and, amongst other things, paddled the Dwyryd estuary in the company of another local centre. We discussed returning to work and the challenges and worries we all had. It was great right up until the moment it drizzled… 
… at which point I realised I’d forgotten my jacket! 
See you soon,  
Dan J 
Dan is Plas Gwynant's Senior Tutor and programme lead. You can contact him at or 01766 890212 
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