Guide for Trip Leaders


Danger exists for participants in canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and other activities organized or advertised by the Paddling Clubs. Such participation may result in illness or injury due to accidents, the forces of nature, or other causes not foreseeable. Such illness and injury may include disease, strains, sprains, fractures, dislocations, paralysis, and/or death. Possible injuries may cause serious and permanent disability.


By your participation in any Paddling Club activity you knowingly assume the risks arising out of that activity. In so doing you release, hold harmless and indemnify the and its agents and officers  from any and all claims and suits for bodily injury, property damage, wrongful death, loss of services or otherwise which may arise out of your participation in canoeing, kayaking, tubing and other activities, whether or not such claims or suits arise from negligent acts or omissions by the organizers and conductors of this activity, their employees or volunteers, another participant, any other person or from any other cause.


A. General Philosophy


Club outings are cooperative adventures among participants. The group is collectively responsible for the conduct of the outing; and each participant is individually responsible for judging his or her own qualifications and for his or her own safety on the river. By participating in a Club outing, you release the Club, its members, trip coordinators, and fellow paddlers from any injuries due to any negligent act or omission or to any intentional act intended to promote your safety or well being.


B. River Hazards


You must understand and accept that whitewater boating exposes you to various hazards, for example, boulders and other obstacles, strainers, undercut or entrapping formations, changing conditions, cold, high water and other hazards, mostly in remote locations. Injuries and deaths occasionally occur due to these hazards, among other things.


You are responsible for learning to recognize river hazards and learning and practicing the techniques for avoiding these hazards. You are also responsible for acquiring boating safety and rescue skills commensurate with the level of difficulty of the river you are paddling (see the International Scale of River Difficulty). One excellent source book is RIVER RESCUE by Bechdel and Ray, available at most outfitters.


Don’t endanger your life and the lives of others by trying to boat on water beyond your ability. Remember - most good paddlers develop by very gradually increasing the difficulty of rivers they run over a period of several years.


C. River Decision Making


You are solely responsible for the following decisions at all times:

  1. The decision to go on any trip.

  2. The decision to put-in the selected river (which may not be the scheduled river) under conditions existing at the time of the put-in.

  3. The decision as to what equipment to wear or take with you.

  4. The decision whether to scout any rapid.

  5. The decision whether to run any rapid.

  6. The decision whether to participate in any rescue or the recovery of any equipment.

  7. The decision to pass up any walk out or take out opportunity.


D. River Rescue


Trip participants usually assist each other when someone appears to need assistance, but only so long as they can do so, in their own judgment, without significant risk to themselves. Some participants may choose to accept greater hazards to rescue a fellow paddler. However, trip participants and the trip coordinator are under no legal duty to assist you.


E. Other Responsibilities of Participants


  1. Telephoning the trip coordinator well in advance of the trip you are planning to go on.

  2. Asking the trip coordinator about his or her training and experience, if these considerations are significant to you.

  3. Informing the trip coordinator of your skills, experience, training, and rivers run.

  4. Not bringing unexpected guests to the trip.

  5. Bringing appropriate equipment and making sure it is in good repair, specifically, life jacket, helmet, protective footwear, knife, whistle, throw bag, extra clothing.

  6. Observing good safety practices on the river.

  7. Informing yourself of the difficulty of the river under existing conditions.

  8. Sharing the optional group responsibilities (see section H).


F. About Your Trip Leader or Trip Coordinator


Trip Coordinators are volunteers and they receive no pay. Their functions are to get the group to the same river at the same time, to arrange the shuttle, and to respond to inquiries to the best of their knowledge. However, your trip coordinator may never have run the scheduled river under the conditions encountered on the trip day. Indeed, the scheduled river may not be runnable on the day of the trip, and the trip may be switched to an unfamiliar river without prior notice.


Your trip coordinator may not have had any organized or formal training in whitewater boating skills, boating safety skills, first aid, or CPR. If you prefer to go on a trip only with a trip coordinator who has had organized or formal training in these areas, or who has had a lot of experience, it is your responsibility to ask him or her about his or her training and experience. It is solely your decision whether the trip coordinator’s qualifications are satisfactory to you. Bear in mind that your trip coordinator is not responsible for judging your qualifications or for your safety on the river.


G. Trip Coordinator Responsibilities


  1. Finding a substitute coordinator if you are unable to go on the trip and notifying the Club of the change.

  2. Familiarizing yourself with the put-in, take-out, shuttle, major obstacles and rapids on the scheduled river.

  3. Determining the rendezvous place and time.

  4. Responding to participant inquiries to the best of your knowledge about the river, your training and experience, and the participants’ training and experience. You have the authorization to refuse a particular participant on any reasonable grounds, but it is not your responsibility to determine whether a participant is qualified for the trip.

  5. Insuring that all participants in all trips (flatwater and whitewater) have signed the Club's waiver of liability.


H. Optional Group Responsibilities


The group may wish to consider the following suggestions. Which of these suggestions are adopted on the trip is solely a group decisions, and is not the responsibility of any particular person.


  1. Obtain river stage or flow data.

  2. Obtain knowledge of the difficult parts of the run and emergency takeout routes.

  3. Equipment: throw rope in each boat, duct tape, first aid kit, extra paddle, flashlight, fire starter and matches, pruning or wire coil saw, survival suit, extra clothing, caribineers, prusik loops, map, guidebook.

  4. Keep group compact enough for communication, but not so compact as to interfere with each other.

  5. Consider dividing a large group into smaller groups, or having “buddy boats”.