identify the 'team of doom' early on
Most teams, with proper training, should find DofE fairly straightforward. They’ll get lost a few times (if they don’t, the routes aren’t challenging enough). They’ll get fractious with one another about who does the washing up. They’ll get tired legs and wet feet. But they’ll have their adventure without too much difficulty and without risk of having to be deferred.
But often, maybe one team in eight, you get what we call (internally, not to them!), “The Team of Doom”. They might lack physical stamina, have less outdoor experience or be a combination of personalities that just doesn’t gel. Often, it’s the team that was last to form, either because they were the last to sign up or because they were left over after established friendship groups formed into teams.
You can identify a potential Team of Doom early on, either during navigation training or by using a team building exercise as a diagnostic. My favourite is a souped-up version of the “human knot”. The team stand in a circle. Each shake hands with someone across the circle, and then shake hands with someone else with the other hand, maintaining contact with both people. This forms them into a knot which they then have to untangle without breaking contact, patiently communicating with each other to solve the problem.
Most groups can do this first stage well, although you might already pick up on who the dominant characters are. But the real value comes when you do further rounds with added complications: someone facing out; someone with a back-to-front hoody covering his eyes; using a foot as a hand. Have one or two rounds adding complications, and then ask the group to make it really difficult for themselves. The team that chooses lots of complications and persists with good humour will have an excellent approach to the demands of expeditioning. The team that opts for the minimum level of challenge, question the point of the exercise, give up easily or argue may be your Team of Doom.
You can then put extra support in place - supplementary training, a closer eye on group dynamics, helping them talk through disagreements, making sure they don’t have the most challenging route. Very often, with support, it’s the Team of Doom that make the best progress, finish with flying colours and are the most proud of their achievement at the end of the programme.