Introduction to assessments and hill walking permits
The IMC coordinates the hill walking training and assessment programme for Kent Scouts. The club works very closely with the County Assessor Team to provide specific opportunities for assessments alongside it's normal events programme.
IMC also work closely with Gravesham District Scouts, who's well-established Hillcraft programme also provides opportunities for training and assessment.
Kent Scouts run their authorisation process as closely as possibly to the NGB award scheme run by Mountain Training and aim to apply the same standards and rigour. Note that although similar in many ways, The Scout Association Hill Walking scheme is completely independent from the NGB award scheme.
The process of gaining a hills permit is generally a gradual one, based almost entirely on experience. There is some training involved of course but putting that training into practice as much as possible is key – the more experience you have the more likely you are to pass your assessment and gain a permit.
Unlike some activities, the process of gaining a hill walking permit is not something that can be achieved over a couple of weekend training courses. Since we live in Kent and a long way from the big hills, it will take some time and effort...
A brief overview of how to get a hill walking permit
Get into the hills
Come on a few IMC have-a-go weekends or join trips run by your district or group. Get a feel for hill walking and start to learn about safe navigation from your group leader.
Get some training
Informal training is given as a matter of course on IMC trips but if you feel that you would like to progress then ask you group leader to give you training in navigation while you're on the hill. There are of course other factors in gaining a permit but being able to navigate safely is arguably the most important. You will need to be able to navigate off the path, in bad weather, in poor visibility and even in the dark, so keep practicing.
Specific training in navigation is also available, please contact the IMC for more details or look out for training dates via the IMC programme. You can also go on courses outside of scouting, such as those run by the National Mountain Centres at Plas y Brenin in Wales and Glenmore Lodge in Scotland
Keep a logbook
It is vital to log all of your experience, including personal days on the hill outside of Scouting. Your assessor will want to see your log book to be able to gauge your level of experience. Log book templates and an explanation of how to complete them is provided here.
How to know when you are ready?
This comes down to experience and your own confidence: do you feel ready to lead groups in the hills? There are no hard and fast rules and if you're not sure then perhaps ask a group leader to put you through your paces and get their opinion. It may be that, having observed you on the hill, a leader recommends you go for assessment.
Aim high or low?
It may be better to start by going for a Terrain 1 permit and then work up. It may be that you go for Terrain 2 but only get awarded a Terrain 1 permit. Don't be disappointed if this happens, it's fairly normal and simply means that you need a bit more experience.