What being a “Trip Organizer” is all about
by Joyce Furfaro
Let me begin with what a trip organizer is not about. The trip organizer is not responsible for other members’ safety. It is assumed that trip participants have the necessary knowledge and skills, as well as the appropriate paddling and safety gear, for the trip ahead.
Trip organizers volunteer for their role out of a desire to share or explore a particular river or stream with others; they receive no compensation. So, what does the trip organizer do? They choose a stretch of water to paddle, and select a time and place to meet. Some members may have questions that the trip organizer can answer, although they are not obligated to do so. These questions usually pertain to the class of river, how long the trip might take, etc. If the trip organizer chooses to answer these questions, they do so to the best of their knowledge; there is no guarantee that their answer is accurate. Once at the put-in location, the trip organizer and others work together to set up the shuttle, they paddle the stream with the group, and they bid farewell at the end.
If they want some added duties, it is helpful if the trip organizer checks to be sure all of the paddlers have signed the club liability waiver (all members have done so). It is also helpful if they complete and submit a trip report to add to the ever-changing information about the paddling experience. This trip report, called a paddling log, is useful for tracking which trips are most popular, what problems were encountered and how they were dealt with, and how passable the waterway was for the water level that day. The trip organizer has probably paddled the waterway in the past, or may be looking to explore a new stretch of water. Even if they are familiar with the paddle, the conditions may be different on the day of the paddle, or the river may not even be runnable that day. In this case, the group may decide on a different waterway to paddle.
The trip organizer may have had no special training in paddling, first aid, CPR, or water safety. If you prefer to only go on trips with specially trained individuals, it is your responsibility to seek them out, or to ask the trip organizer about their training. However, trip organizers are not obligated to perform any tasks related to their training.
With all that in mind, being a trip organizer is a relatively easy and rewarding experience. It is also what this club is about. Without trip organizers, this club will not meet its number one goal: to offer a way for members to find like- minded paddlers to paddle with – and often. If you are hesitant to organize a trip, ask another member to co-organize with you. As much as you appreciate when someone else organizes a trip on a waterway you haven’t yet paddled, you’ll find that many of the participants on the trip you organize will feel the same about you.