Leader Guidelines

Guidelines for Trip Leaders

Liability Waiver
Trip Attendance Form
Outings Scheduling Form
Backcountry Accident Report Form

Planning the Outing

Proper planning and preparations are important so outings go smoothly and safely. More challenges arise with larger groups and less distinct trails. Pre-trip preparation, logistics, and communications during the outing are critical for the trip to go safely.

If you have not been previously assigned to a member of the Outings Committee, contact the Outings Committee Chair for assignment. Complete an Outing Description Form and return the form to your assigned Outings Committee Member. That member will arrange for publication of the outing on the club website.

Research the outing. If possible, scout the route ahead of time and plan logistics. Consult the descriptions in the Outings Guidelines and include the appropriate classification of your outings according to difficulty and your anticipated pace.

Decide if you want to limit the number of participants. The decision would be based on your assessment of the particular trail, parking, ‘Leave No Trace’ principles, and how many people you are willing to accommodate. If the outing goes into the Weminuche Wilderness, remember that group size limit is 15. Other designated wilderness areas also have limits on group size. Decide whether you will allow dogs on the outing, and if so, under what conditions. As leader that decision is solely up to you. Also determine whether specially equipped vehicles will be needed, such as 4WD, high clearance, or low range transmission.

Choose a Co-leader and/or Sweep to help with designated responsibilities: sign-in, carpool, and equipment. The Co-leader can be the Sweep or you may designate another person for Sweep. The Sweep should have a radio and understand the trip plan. The Sweep’s responsibility is to accompany the slowest participants to ensure they do not get lost. The Sweep can be selected at the Meeting Place or the Trailhead. Review communication coordination with the Sweep.

Before the Outing

Provide information on the outing so participants can decide if it is within their ability.

Manage RSVP responses. Make a list and, if needed, a ‘waiting list’ of who is going, and plan accordingly. Members are accepted first on outings with limits.

Advise participants they should read the outing description and Outing Difficulty Ratings and the Pace Descriptions in the Outings Guidelines to determine if the outing is within their capabilities. Ask if they have any medical conditions that could affect their abilities or safety. Make sure that any new participants understand the Acknowledgement of Personal Responsibility and Liability Waiver. Answer any questions about the outing based on your knowledge of the difficulty. If the outing is not easy, and you do not know the participant, you should contact them to inquire if the outing is suitable for their experience and capabilities. This is especially applicable to non-members. An outings leader has the authority to deny participation to any person.

Consider special arrangements: If it is not convenient for you to meet the group in town, arrange for someone to meet the group for you. If there is an optional plan or route for the outing, coordinate with the person leading the option. Be sure that person knows the route.

Make vehicle arrangements if 4WD or high clearance vehicles are needed and/or if a car shuttle is needed.

Obtain a trip duffel from the Trip Equipment Coordinator or the person who had it before you. Check to make sure all items are there, they are ready for use, and you are familiar with their use. As Trip Leader you are responsible for charging the radios and determining that the trip duffle is complete.

Each trip bag will contain:

    • Copy of this Guidelines for Trip Leaders
    • First Aid Kit
    • Radios (4-6)
    • Radio Chargers
    • ResQLink Emergency Beacon
    • Plastic clipboard case with the following:
      • Outing Attendance Forms
      • Liability Waiver Forms
      • SO! Emergency Contact List
      • Lightning Risk Management
      • ResQLink Instructions
      • Pen or Pencil

Bring an extra vehicle key. Someone may return to the vehicles early and need shelter, or someone may need to leave a club radio in your vehicle.

Familiarize yourself with the use of the first aid kit and emergency rescue beacon provided in the bag.

Check weather conditions. If conditions are marginal, obtain information.

If practical, substitute rather than cancel the outing. When conditions are not favorable for the planned outing, Club policy is to try to substitute a different outing, rather than cancel. The outing could be moved to lower or higher elevations or a different location if necessary.

Changes to Outings

If you need to change or cancel an existing outing after the schedule has been published for that period, the procedure to follow depends on the nature of the change. If the change pertains to administrative details of the outing, such as start time, starting location, or date, you may request the change in the schedule by sending the change by email to mail@seniorsoutdoors.org.

Cancellations of scheduled outings may also be sent directly to mail@seniorsoutdoors.org.

If the change is more substantial, such as a new outing or a change from a moderate hike to a hard hike or at a different location for the outing, you should notify your assigned contact at the Outings Committee to approve the change.  The Outings Committee member will then submit the change to mail@seniorsoutdoors.org.  If your assigned committee member is not available, send the proposed change to another member of the Outings Committee.

At the Meeting Place

Take attendance: Have all participants, including you, sign the Trip Attendance Form. Make sure all members and visitors have signed a Liability Waiver form.

Review carpool arrangements:

  • What is the driving route and destination? Who will drive?
  • Are 4WD vehicles needed?
  • Does anyone need to leave the group early (drive his/her own vehicle)?
  • If the outing has a shorter option, are there are enough vehicles for both options?
  • Will stops be made on the way to pick up people, meet other vehicles, bathroom breaks?
  • What are the road conditions, especially back roads?
  • Do drivers know to keep track of and not lose the vehicle behind them?
  • What does the carpool cost?

At the Trailhead

Recheck attendance list: Make sure every participant has signed the Outing Attendance List. Also, have any non-members sign the Liability Waiver form.

Form a circle to make introductions, especially if there are new members present.  Make a head count. Make sure the number matches the number of people on the list. Let others know the head count.   Coordinate with your Sweep (next stop point, junctions, etc.)

Make necessary announcements.

  • Review options for the outing, divide people into appropriate groups.
  • Inform others where hidden vehicle key is located.
  • Review the route, preferably on a map, so all participants know where they are going.
  • Review coordination guidelines.

Distribute trip equipment. Distribute radios, rescue beacon, and a first-aid kit, all of which should be taken on the trail. All are in the trip duffel.  Ensure participants understand how to operate radios, rescue beacon, and if appropriate, avalanche beacons.

Take special precautions during hunting season.

Register the group if there is a trailhead registration box.

During the Outing

  • Make sure radios are on and set to the appropriate channel & volume. Do a radio check.
  • Brief the group on trail junctions. If there are any forks in the trail, make sure that all participants know where to turn. It may be necessary to put up flagging. When flagging is used it must be removed.
  • Be alert for hazardous weather changes that might yield lightning, blowing snow, or hypothermia hazards.
  • Periodically do a headcount.  Make sure you have not ‘lost’ someone.

Accident or Injury

  • First, determine the severity of the injury, and the need for any immediate life-saving assistance.
  • Ask if there are any participants with medical training who can assist.
  • Determine whether the victim may need to be evacuated by Search and Rescue. If help is needed, try to use a cell phone to call 911. Coverage can often be obtained at higher elevations or different locations. Before calling use the Backcountry Accident Report Form, included in the First Aid Kit, to prepare appropriate information to provide to Search and Rescue.
  • If no immediate cell coverage, determine whether help can best and fastest be obtained by sending someone back to contact help by cell phone, or by using the rescue beacon, or both. The rescue beacon should only be used in life threatening or serious emergencies.
  • If you need the emergency contact number of a Club member, check the emergency contact roster that is included in the trip duffel.

After the Outing

  • Recheck attendance list to make sure all participants have returned.
  • Remind participants to pay car pool fees.
  • Make sure all trip equipment is returned to the trip duffel and the power has been turned off on all the radios.
  • Pass the trip duffel on to the Club’s Trip Equipment Coordinator or the next trip leader. Inform the next Trip Leader if any items need to be restocked (such as first-aid items or attendance sheets), repaired, or replaced.

Club Gear

Seniors Outdoors! has a variety of potluck and party supplies and group camping equipment that trip and meeting leaders can use for events and outings.  Here is an inventory list showing these items and who to contact if you want to use them.