Fully prepared and raring to go!

Last month, Education Officer, Elliot, talked us through How To Train a Tour Guide. Now, one of our shiny new Tour Guides, Roxzan explains how the training period went for her.

“The best advice given to me, before commencing my Tour Guide training at Kents Cavern, was to go in without any preconceptions. The training took place over four days with the expectation that by the end of the final day, you would lead a tour by yourself with a trained guide watching. That prospect seemed entirely daunting to me at first, however by the end of the course, I was fully prepared and raring to go.

On Day 1, I was given a booklet about the caves and its history, alongside a training manual, and I was briefed on the Health and Safety procedures when on site and in the caves. That afternoon, I took my first step into the caves. I was shown the location of the lights and phones and how to operate them, alongside the chambers, their names, and how to follow cave escort and evacuation procedures. Whilst it seems a lot to remember, it’s taken at a comfortable pace and you are able to ask questions along the way. This sets the groundwork for becoming a tour guide, before moving on to how to present the necessary information in an interesting and entertaining manner.

On Day 2, I began to shadow another guide and opened the Woodland Trail and the caves, before going on the first tour of the day. Opening the woodlands provided a great insight into the animal history at Kents Cavern and I learnt a lot from it. By opening the caves, it helped familiarise myself with the route and review the lighting system, as it became my duty on the tours to operate them.

Day 3, I was given the challenge to attempt some of the chambers and deliver the information. It’s quite daunting at first, almost like breaking the fourth wall, but once you’ve done the initial bit (speaking to the tour) your confidence grows and the information starts flowing. To help recall the information in the chambers and the links I could make, I went home and wrote a script. I simply bullet-pointed the steps but it assisted me in understanding how to provide a well-rounded tour. This really helped me recall the information and I could get creative with how I could remember each point and order they come in. It also helped me become familiar with vocabulary, like homo heidelbergensis. I found that to be a really useful aid and I still refer to it and build on it today.

By Day 4, I had experienced tours with many of the qualified guides all with their own particular ways of doing things. I learnt so much from all of them that I was able to adapt and bring into my own initial tour plan. Finally, it was my time to conduct my very first tour independently. Whilst guiding my group around, I was a little worried about my time management but totally confident in my subject matter and at the end of my final day, I was delighted to be officially given the keys to the caves. However, it doesn’t stop there. The key lesson I’ve taken from my training is never to stop being curious as there’s always something new to learn – especially at Kents Cavern!”