Archive for January, 2011

Expedition Behavior

January 16, 2011

We love our tea.  Each cup is an intricate and satisfying ritual that marks and fuels the chapters of our day.  After years of boiling teapots dry (and scrambling to the tune of a shrieking kettle) we now use electric kettles to heat the water.  Fill the kettle.  Hit the button.  It turns itself off after it boils.  Perfect.

Earlier today I walked up to the teapot and finding some hot water there I poured myself a cup of tea.  A few minutes later I hear Virginia call out, “Hey, I just heated that water and you didn’t leave me any!”

Doh! I am suddenly transported back to my days as an outdoor educator – leading month long wilderness expeditions.  My heart sinks as I realize I have just exhibited poor “EB” (“expedition behavior.”)

EB consists of those behaviors that make you a good tent mate – someone others will enjoy living, travelling, and camping in close quarters with for weeks and even months.  Good EB means you are fun to hang with, do your share of camp chores, and generally look out for the well being of your mates before your own personal desires.

I once led a month long mountaineering course with a young man named Rafael who was from Peru.  Rafael was fond of quoting his grandmother.  One of my favorites was “grandma’s definition of good EB.”  According to her definition, “Good EB is when there are 3 people in a tent group and each feels like they are doing 50% of the work” (I know – Grandma was pretty hip!)

The day-to-day interactions around the home and office aren’t that different from being on an expedition.  Are you cleaning up after yourself?  Are you taking the last donut?  Are you listening to others as much as you are blabbing about your view or experiences?  Would your co-workers or family members be psyched if they were randomly assigned to live with you in a tent for a week?

For my part, I called myself out on my poor EB and made a commitment to refill the teapot and hit the button.

What do you see you could do to be embody good EB with your tent mates?