I recently finished teaching Advanced Wilderness Skills to a group of Outdoor Skills Course students at a college where I work part-time. I’d like to share some questions from their final exam. They ask: What Would You Do?

This section of the test covered outdoor leadership. The students were given a number of real-world scenarios with which to deal. I’ve listed a few here, and added what really ended up happening — which is the correct answer to each of the scenarios (all of which can be debated of course).

Have a look and share your answers in the comments field. (Don’t peek at the answers —“What Actually Happened” — first though.)

The Situation: Lost Campers

A group of paddlers are running a northern river in Manitoba. It’s 7:00 p.m. and the cook announces that supper will be ready in less than an hour. The rest of the group is done all their chores so they decide to hike up to a nearby hill behind the campsite. No one brings a map, compass or flashlight. There didn’t seem to be a reason to do so.

It’s 9:00 p.m. and no one has returned to camp. Yelling produces no response. It’s quickly getting dark. The cook has a whistle, flares, SPOT Personal Locator Beacon, satellite phone, GPS, map and compass. A campfire is burning.

You’re the cook — what do you do?

What Actually Happened:

The group didn’t find camp until early the next morning and had to spend a night in the woods. The cook blew a whistle but the group never heard it. He also built up the campfire but the group didn’t see it. When the sun came up, one of the lost campers knew that the sun rises in the east. The river was running north, and they were camped on the west side of the river. So the group walked towards the sun, found the river, and eventually found the campsite (a few minutes before the cook pushed the 911 button on the SPOT).

The Situation: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

A group of kayakers are paddling the north shore of Ontario’s Lake Nipigon. They only have two days left in their scheduled trip and have organized a boat shuttle to pick them up at a designated spot on the lake. The problem is, the weather has turned nasty and the group has been wind-bound for two full days — putting them way off schedule. Some party members want to push on no matter how bad the wind and waves are — they have to be back at work and can’t afford to be delayed. Others don’t want to pay extra money for the boat shuttle to return, or to perhaps come looking for them, so they want to continue as well. A few in the group try to have everyone stay put — safety first. You are equipped with flares, map and compass, but no satellite phone or SPOT.

What do you decide on?

What Actually Happened:

They stayed put until the weather improved and were one-day off schedule. Their loved ones were worried at first, but glad they eventually arrived safe and sound.

The Situation: The Replacement

Your group has planned a canoe trip across Algonquin Provincial Park. It’s been in the works for months now. The problem is, however, one member has just cancelled three days before the trip. You now have three canoes with two people and one with canoe with only one person.

What is your best option?

1. Choose a stranger you find online to fill in.

2. Ask a friend-of-a-friend to join you who says they have limited skills but are very enthusiastic to go.

3. Cancel the trip.

4. Have the one person paddle solo.

5. Have the one person that lost their partner cancel out.

6. Create a “Princess Boat” where three people are in one canoe, and then switch who gets to be the “Princess” each day of the trip.

What Actually Happened:

They chose option six, the “Princess Boat.”

The Situation: “We Don’t Want to be Rescued”

Your group is backpacking in Killarney Provincial Park. You’re halfway along the demanding, 100-km La Cloche Silhouette Trail. It’s been rainy and cold for days and you come across a father and 12-year-old son camped out. The son is suffering from the cold. He’s shivering, his lips are blue and wants desperately to go home. You ask the father of he needs assistance since you have a satellite phone and SPOT Personal Locator Beacon. The father and son do not have any safety devices. He says “No,” and claims the boy is a bit of a sissy and he needs to toughen up. The father is a very overbearing person who believes he’s very skilled in the outdoors — but one look at his gear (and his son) and you all think differently.

Do you continue on and leave the father and son to deal with the issue or do you get involved and rescue the kid?

What Actually Happened:

The group helped as best they could, camped nearby and used a satellite phone to call the park superintendent. The park superintendent came in by floatplane and insisted the father and son return with them.

The Situation: Bad Behaviour

You’re in charge of a group of grade 12 students. You’re the guide — but they have a high school teacher and volunteer councilor along as well. On day-three of a five-day hiking trip, one student gets caught with some marijuana. They all signed a waiver before the trip agreeing that no alcohol or drugs are allowed on the trip. The student pleads for mercy. It’s his first offence and claims he just brought the drugs to look cool in front of all the other kids. He apologizes profusely and promises he’ll never do it again.

What is your best option?

1. Confiscate the drugs, accept his apology and allow him to continue on the trip.

2. Stick to your guns and have the entire group return to the starting point so the student’s parents can pick the boy up.

3. Have the councilor or teacher return to the starting point with the boy and drive him back to his parents. The rest of the group continues on.

4. Accept the boy’s apology and let the school deal with the issue when you finish your trip.

5. Accept the boy’s apology and hand out extra chores for the accused student as a punishment.

 What Actually Happened:

They chose option three — the councilor was the one they chose to go back with the student.