Helpful Hints for Trip Leaders
Before the Event
- Know where you are going. Consider scouting the trip in advance and checking on parking.
- Get phone numbers from those who call to inquire about the event, in case plans change.
- Screen participants for their preparedness: fitness, skills, and equipment. Focus on their recent experience.
- Clarify the extent of the event with callers; this will eliminate surprises.
- Dog owners may attend at your discretion and must be prepared to leash their pets. They are responsible for their dog's behavior and waste.
Before Leaving for the Meeting Point
- Pack your map, guidebook, first aid kit, cell phone, and flashlight.
- Consider carrying extra supplies for the group: water, food, clothing.
- Bring the trip sign-up form, pencil, and extra copies of Trail Talk.
- Check the weather forecast.
At the Meeting Place
- Adjust the trip plan to fit the weather and conditions. As the leader, your judgment prevails.
- Introduce yourself and participants.
- Give a detailed trip briefing, including travel to the starting point. Describe the trip route and planned stops.
- Again, screen for preparedness. Focus on essentials and recent experience.
- Have everyone add their names and phone numbers to the sign-up form.
- Encourage carpooling.
- Count participants and cars.
- Remind drivers to not lose track of the car behind. Drive within the speed limit.
- Before leaving the meeting place, wait 5 minutes for latecomers; otherwise, keep to the announced schedule.
At the Trailhead
- Give a detailed trip briefing that includes the designated lunch spot as well as reminders to wait for the group at all intersections and to leave a marker if one leaves the trail.
- Clarify for the group the expected degree of cohesiveness between trail intersections and the participants' responsibilities to each other.
- Assign someone as sweep: either yourself or another. The assigned sweep may change during the event.
- Allow enough time at the trailhead for all to get ready: to organize essential gear, put on boots, take off layers, make a toilet stop, etc. Don't rush participants.
- Count the participants.
On the Trail
- Stick to your published plan.
- Watch for changing weather. Watch the time.
- Turn back (or change the plan) if safety is an issue. Be prudent. Being clear is essential.
- Consider the needs of the weakest participants.
- Count and recount the participants. Reassemble periodically.
- Know where everyone is. Circulate within the group.
- Practice "Leave No Trace."
Back at the Trailhead
- Make sure all are back. Count the participants.
- As leader, you must ensure the safe return of slow participants.
- Thank people for coming. Talk up future outings and give Trail Talk to nonmembers.
- Ensure that everyone has a ride, that all vehicles start, and that drivers know the way back. Caravan if needed.
After the Trip
- Submit your trip report, with optional narrative and digital photos (on-line or hard copy).
For more details, check your copy of A Trip Leader's Handbook: Advice for Successful GMC Outings (rev. ed., 2008).
[August 22, 2013]