More than a logo

Our programmes have, over the years, become famous for their ‘themes’, the cover story we use to provide a narrative for the activities our participants undertake. We don’t take these too seriously, they are a bit of fun and a reason to introduce unusual characters, strange activities and stunning locations into the programme.

Perhaps you a members of the Welsh Space Agency, trying to launch the first successful Roced Ddraig, or members of the Department for Internal Affairs, tracking down gold in a post-revolutionary Soviet state. Or maybe you are training to become members of the New Court Angels, your organisation’s crack crime fighting unit.

Whatever your challenge  you can depart wearing the insignia of your adventure with pride and show them off, for they are normally imbued with many happy memories.

Below are just some of the logos from our adventures and we are looking forward helping create many more.


NC Angels Logo






Be Friends with Failure

In this excellent comic from Stephen McCranie he explores the importance of failure in art, but the message applies to almost every area of life.


See the rest of the comic

Off with a Bang : Workshop 28th January 2014

OWAB_LogoWe are running our Off with a Bang programme on the 28th January 2014 in Snowdonia.

 This workshop aims to help you get your courses off to a great start. Delivered in a practical, thought-provoking manner, you will think about the very early stages of your programmes, from just before meeting your group, through your first contact with them and heading towards their first activity.

It’s a one day programme and we’re working in conjunction with Boulder Adventures and using their Bryn Du Mountain Centre in Llanberis, North Wales.

Topics and Discussions

Before you Start

A look at what you can do before your group arrive to get ahead.

First Contact

Thinking about your very first meeting with your groups.

Ice Breakers

Both a theoretical look and a series of activities to help your groups warm up, get to know each other and get stuck in.

Making it Brief

Thinking about how you brief a group, how you structure your communications with them, what to include and what to leave out.

£20 +VAT per person

Invoicing available on request.

Contact Sam ( / 01249 814338) at Totem for more information or to book.

Off with a Bang Jan 13 Flyer, please feel free to download and distribute.

Leadership Limerick

Canoe snowy backgroundAs part of their ‘Looking at Leadership’ programme, apprentices from O2 had to compose a limerick on the topic of leadership. We were so impressed by their poem that we thought we’d share it here.

We are the guys from O2,
learning to lead with the Boulder Crew.
We know what you mean,
when you say task, individual, team,
so we reckon we know more than you!

Skiing Uphill

Totem team members Simon and Becky have spent the winter living, working and playing in the French Alps. In between early morning powder runs, ice climbs and digging the car out of the snow, Simon has sent us word of their own LittleBigAdventure.

I love adventures. My definition of an adventure is a journey with an uncertain outcome, one where you aren’t really sure if you can make it happen. Conditions on route, our ability to solve the difficulties we encounter or any number of a hundred and one other things night stop us, but we’re going to try anyway.

When deep snow covers the mountains it is virtually impossible to navigate on foot unless you enjoy wading through powder snow and sinking up to your waist every few steps. This problem was solved thousands of years ago with the invention of skis and the addition of skins. The ability to glide uphill with each step and not slide back is at once magical, mystical and really hard work. As much as I love the convenience ski-lifts it is so much more satisfactory to do all the ascent and descent myself. Read More »

Quote : Rupert Rosedale

“In my work teaching outdoor activities I have seen the immense sense of confidence and self-discovery that is earned when someone accepts a challenge, takes a risk and ventures into an unproven and uncharted experience.”

-Rupert Rosedale (1972-2009)


Quotation : Gilbert Murray

“A machine is a great moral educator. If a horse or a donkey won’t go, men lose their tempers and beat it; if a machine won’t go, there is no use beating it. You have to think and try till you find what is wrong. That is real education.”

Gilbert Murray

This is a great quote from Gilbert Murray and is certainly true of machines. However, we also believe its sentiment is true of the outdoors.

Does this work?

“The outdoors is a great moral educator. If people make their lives difficult, men lose their tempers and argue; if the outdoors makes your life difficult, there is no use arguing. You have to think and try till you find what is wrong. That is real education.”

People are Amazing : Dean Potter : Moonwalk

The ultimate full moon shot, Dean Potter walks a highline at Cathedral Peak as the sun sets and the moon rises. Shot from over 1 mile away with a Canon 800mm and 2X by Mikey Schaefer.

Click on the image to view this amazing film.

Dean Potter on a Highline

or watch at

via Joe Brown Shops

Quote: Teddy Roosevelt

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

-Teddy Roosevelt, US President

Five Lines

At the slideshow on the last night of one of our residential programmes, participants are asked to sum up their week to their line managers, colleagues, team members, technicians and facilitators.

They have only five sentences to do it, with a suggested structure, and they are encouraged to write it in the form of a five line limerick, poem or song.

The suggested structure is: “I was/wasn’t expecting, I most enjoyed, The thing I found most challenging, My biggest learning point was, In the workplace I am now going to”

The poem below was written by a telecoms apprentice, who has kindly given us permission to share it here. We were impressed with his honestly, his self reflection and his rhyming skills, and all written after a 10 hour mountain day and with only 45 minutes notice!

Hope you enjoy it a much as we did.

Five Lines

I was expecting a challenge, people to be tested, possibly even sick,
I wasn’t expecting a day to feel like a week and yet the the end to come so quick,

I most enjoyed the bonding with my comrades on that ‘stroll’,
The hardest thing for me, I think, was owning less control,

I learnt the power of organisation and communicating needs,
Now at work I’ll focus and question, support to nurture, rise to challenge
Yet fundamentally still be me.