verb:to spend time in ineffectual activity
noun: a lot of ineffectual activity:
As a supervisor and assessor I experience a lot of faff on DofE. I admit to being a little fussy about the amount of time our teams can be seen wasting around arriving or leaving a campsite, and along their route, but personally I think that most of the faffage is all part of their expedition experience. When I think back to my DofE Bronze, Silver and Gold expeditions, they were certainly not devoid of faff, and in fact the top levels of faffage often coincided with the most memorable events of the expedition route. Memories for another blogpost methinks…
In recent years we have used the concept of faff widely in training and on supervision of our own expeditions, and one of our teams even took it on as an expedition aim a few years ago! By jollying them along whilst lightheartedly encouraging them to consider their team’s faff based inadequacies, I find that by the time they reach Gold most have really honed their kit, camp craft, navigation and food to minimise faff, except that caused by external sources (moooooooo!).
Some categories (faffegories?!)
It must be noted that those marked with a star were inspired from a list published by Cambridge University Hill Walking Club, author Rob McQueen – thank you for the stimulus that has led me and my DofEers to our personalised list!
Time spent moving cars, minibuses or people around, which involves much planning and discussion of the various solutions or convolutions, and could always have been more smoothly executed in retrospect. Usually begins with the simple scenario of which member of staff has the minibus keys on a Friday night that I need at 8am on a Sunday morning…?
Initial faff*- the type of faff that occurs for at least 20 minutes on teams disembarking from a minibus at a start point. Involves multiple toilet trips, redistribution of previously packed items of group kit, donning extra layers (to be removed very soon – see clothing faff), and much refolding of the maps. Time taken increases by a minimum of five minutes per team present ie. one team – 20 minutes, five teams – 40 minutes, despite doing the same faff at the same time.
A prolonged rest for all manner of gear adjustments, food, tea, sleep etc…usually resulting in some (hopefully) minor frustration from DofE supervisors waiting at the next checkpoint.
Microfaff*- small faff performed without disrupting the progress of the team eg. Stop for rucksack adjustment then catch up without being noticed.
Turbofaff*- performed so quickly that even you don’t stop eg. Gloves off and into pocket on the move.
Clothingfaff – any length from turbo to uber, involving clothing. Prevalent in the early part of the day and straight after lunch, when layers added to keep warm at rest need shedding after only a few minutes walking.
Map faff – involving all manner of folding situations, as well as turning it round, scratching of heads and asking for 2nd/3rd opinions. Includes the subcategory of routefaff, eg. walking Day 2 in reverse on Day 1 of a circular Bronze route due to lack of direction arrows. Yes really.
When any type of faff takes sufficiently long that the people waiting decide to eat their lunch. Ultimately causing further delay.
Food faff- illustrated by an example – On a routine kit inspection, we found HAM sandwiches packed for Day 2 of a Bronze expedition in high summer (no fridges!) ‘But my dad said its ok and he’s a food safety officer’. Necessitating a speedy trip to local shop for more suitable provisions.
Photofaff* – time taken to retrieve camera from waterproof bag, take picture, retake picture with multiple poses, and pack it away. Particularly in reference to multiple pictures taken of the same thing with a variety of cameras by one person. Most annoyingly they must receive instruction as to turning on/focusing the camera from someone in the posing group, and then must reunite the correct camera with owner.
Team faff – when the whole team joins in a fully coordinated faff that can delay to the point of camping short. To be avoided.
Aquafaff- when filling water bottles in the morning before departing from camp, the team is seen traipsing to the tap one at a time over the course of an hour or so (rather than one member taking all bottles at once). Not to be confused with…
Hydro faff – involving water of any source causing delay. Bog dipping, campsite flooding and stream crossing (always done with caution and care, faff is not negative in this last scenario except when an obvious crossing point is ignored in favour of walking up and down a stream bank repeatedly trying to find somewhere better).
Packfaff – extra time added to that necessary to strike and pack camp before leaving. Usually taken up by people moving stuff from A to B but not actually packing. This faff will increase by a factor of 10 with any precipitation.
Localfaff – time added to any route card leg for taking directions from a local, rather than using the excellent OS map provided.
Final faff. Events during that peculiar block of time when there is a definite handle on where a DofE team is, and an ETA at a finish point where expectant parents hover. This faff factor will increase with several influences a) poor visibility b) anxiety levels of waiting parents c) length of time an assessor chooses to take over reflecting with the team on ‘something else’ (for those in the DofE know!). In essence your accurately predicted arrival time can easily have an hour or more added at the drop of a hat by any of these or a number of other factors.
In essence, DofE expeditions rarely run without any faff. Assessors and supervisors are advised on their training courses that a team running late is ‘to be expected’, and that they should develop patience to cope with this. Expect faff, deal with it positively with regards your relationship with your team, and encourage them to learn from it.