Big Hill Pond State Park
Fifth in a series. In this image Jessica, Cactus and Jennifer are taking a break before entering Dismal Swamp.
It's important to structure your backpack team. For each hike [or for each day of an expedition] I would assign a first guide and second guide for the team. The first guide was the navigator and set the pace for the entire team. No one hiked in front of the first guide. The second guide always brought up the rear. No one hiked behind the second guide. Cactus was always our second guide, not because he was a slow hiker [he could out-hike any one on the team] but because he had a great amount of hiking knowledge and he always carried the trail first aid. Each member carried their own small first aid kit, but Cactus' kit included things like braces, big bandages, aspirin, snake bite tools, and plenty of moleskiin [for blister repair]. Cactus always wanted to know exactly where the team was, and if he was the second guide, then he knew no one had fallen too far behind.
As adviser my responsibility was to ensure that the hike was going well, the pace was good for everyone [although it was not unusual for there to be as much as an eighth of a mile between the first guide and the second guide] and lend assistance to anyone who might having difficulties along the trail [pack repair, boot repair, minor trail first aid, advise and instruction]. I would start the hike at the front to check the pace set by the first guide, slow my pace until I was at the back with the second guide, checking on each hiker along the way, quicken my pace until I caught up with the first guide.... and then do it all over again.
To ensure that we stayed together as a team, we scheduled a 5-10 minute break once every hour [10 minutes for the leaders, 5 minutes for the slower hikers]. The first guide would also stop at every major trail junction until the entire team was there, so no one would take a wrong turn. We studied the trail maps before embarking, but young hikers don't always pay close enough attention to the details of the map... we learned from past experiences.