Huntsville Canoe Club Trip Leader’s Seminar
Huntsville Canoe Club Organization • Over 150 Members • Run by President and Elected Board of Directors In Accordance • With By-Laws AnnualSchedule • 50+ Scheduled Paddling Day Trips • Dozens of Pick-Up Trips • Organized Camping Trips • Overnight Paddling Trips • Pool Roll Practice Sessions • Organized Picnic Trips • Occasional Cooperative Trips With Other Clubs To ensure that HCC members have the most enjoyable and safest paddling experiences possible and that sufficient leaders are available to maintain the club’s aggressive paddling schedule, the training of new trip leaders is of paramount importance.
Trip Leader A trip leader functions like a prime minister. He is the first among equals. He needs to maintain a schedule and sense of order without being dictatorial or overbearing. He needs to have enough flexibility to effect changes that can be caused by a wide variety of outside influences from weather to accident or injury. Trip Leader’s Duties • Schedule Trip • Organize Trip • Manage Trip Operations • Take Care of Clerical Portion of Trip – Sign-Up Sheet / Trip Report • Duties can be Distributed Among Two or More Persons
Trip LeaderContinued Training • Trip Leader’s Seminar • Swiftwater Self-Rescue • Advanced Swiftwater Rescue • First Aid • CPR • On-the-Job Training
Trip LeaderContinued Required Equipment • Seaworthy Boat Appropriately Outfitted for The Trip • Paddling Clothing Appropriate for the Coldest Weather • Expected on the Trip • Safety Equipment Appropriate for the River to be Paddled “Nice to Have” Equipment • Cell Phone • Gazetteer • Compass • GPS • “Extras” – Clothing, Spray Jackets, Boat Straps, PFD’s, Paddles
Trip Scheduling Trip Planning Meeting • Held in October and April • Official Club Trips are Scheduled Up to 6 Months in Advance • Prospective Trip Leaders Should Attend Pick-Up Trip Planning • Usually Spur-of-the-Moment – It Rains, We Paddle • Group Arranges Informal Trip at Club Meeting or Other • Get-Together • Self-Appointed Leader Calls Friends to Arrange a Trip • Leader Should Notify the Cruisemaster
Trip SchedulingContinued Trip Selection • Volunteer to Lead Trips that are Within Your Paddling • “Comfort Zone” • Know the River You are Going to Paddle • Know Where the Closest Emergency Services (Hospital) Are • Make Sure Trips You Volunteer to Lead Will Fit Into Your • Schedule (Social, Business, or Otherwise) • If You Have a Scheduling Conflict, Find a Replacement as • Early as Possible
Trip Organization The Month of the Trip – Place Announcement in the Newsletter At the Club Meeting Before the Trip • Announce the Trip – Give Difficulty, Location and Time of Meeting • Place, and Alternatives • Pass Sign-Up Sheet to Members Two to Three Days Before the Trip • Check the Weather Forecast and River Level • Call Each Participant – Verify the Capabilities of the People you • Don’t Know • Encourage Individuals Who may not have the Capability for your Scheduled Trip • To Consider an Alternate, Less Difficult, Scheduled Trip, if Available • Consider Alternative Destinations Based on the Group’s Capabilities, • Potential River Level, Weather, Etc.
Trip OrganizationContinued The Night Before the Trip • Check the Gauge Again • Check the Weather Forecast Again • Call the Participants if a Change Appears Imminent The Morning of the Trip • Check the Gauge Again • Check the Weather Again • Drive to the Meeting Place
HCC Unofficial Meeting Places • Points South (Locust, Mulberry, Etc) – Hardees, South Parkway • Points East (Ocoee, Hiwassee, LRC, Etc) – Hardees, Gurley • Sand Mountain (Short, Town, Etc) – McDonalds, Hampton Cove • Alternate / Additional – Short Creek Ranger’s Station • Wednesday Evening Paddle – Captain D’s, Madison The meeting time should be set early enough in the day to ensure that the group will be off the river well before sunset.
Trip Size • 1 – Go Home and Clean out the Garage – Never Paddle Alone • Even on Flat Water • 2 – Make Sure the River to be Paddled is Well Within the Comfort • Zone of Both Paddlers – Consider Paddling a Less Difficult River • if Necessary or Go to a River Where You Know There Will be • Other Boaters • 3 or More – Generally OK • Large to Very Large – Special Arrangements on the River May be • Necessary – Lead / Sweep, Buddy System, Etc. • Very Large – Splitting the Trip at the Meeting Place May Be • Necessary – Perhaps Even Going to Separate Rivers if Parking • at the River Presents a Potential Problem Regardless of trip size, the capabilities of each individual paddler must be taken into consideration. A change of venue should be considered to accommodate the capabilities of the people in the group
Ground Operations / LogisticsGoing to the River At the Meeting Place • Await the Stragglers – Call Them if Necessary • Make Sure Everyone has Filled in The Sign-Up Sheet • Consolidate Boats for the Trip to The River • Further Verify in Person the Capabilities of the New Paddlers • and Check Their Equipment • Make Sure Everyone Knows the Route to the River • Swap Cell Phone Numbers and Try to Make Sure That Each Car • has a Phone • For Long Drives, Prearrange Rest and Lunch Stops
Ground Operations / LogisticsGoing to the RiverContinued Drive to the River • Lead the Way • Make Sure Everyone Makes the Correct Turns at Intersections • Pull Over and Wait, If Necessary • If You Need to Stop for a Break, Make Sure Your Intentions are • Clear to the Others Well in Advance • Don’t Speed
At the Put-In • Check the River Level at the Put-in and Make a Final • Decision on Whether to Paddle or Make a Change • Unload Your Own Boat and Gear • Help Others Unload Boats and Gear if Necessary • Arrange Shuttle – Maximize the Number of Vehicles • at the Take-Out • Make Sure the Group Knows Which Vehicles Will • be at the Take-Out • Before Running Shuttle Make Sure the Drivers • Know the Shuttle Route • Verify That All Gear Has Been Unloaded and Items • Needed at the Take-out Will be There
Shuttle • Follow the Standard Driving Rules • Make Sure That Vehicles at the Take-Out are • Secure and Will Not Obstruct Boat Loading for • Others Using the River • Verify that Everyone has Car Keys and Items That • May have been Forgotten – Spray Jackets, Camera, • Water Bottles, Etc • Return to the Put-In
River OperationsTrip Leader’s Special Considerations • Size of group • Strength of group • Physical condition of group • Water level • Weather • River difficulty • Access • Time of day and length of run • Additional gear that may be needed • Maps, GPS, Phone • Location of nearest hospital • Take river safety instruction • Know basic 1st aid and CPR
Boat, Sprayskirt Floatation Paddle(s) PFD, Helmet River Shoes Wet/Drysuit Long johns and sweaters Hat, scull cap Gloves Rescue Gear, 1st Aid Kit Gear bag (camera, extras) Glasses Lunch and water Off river clothes (towel) Off river food and drinks Maps, GPS List of phone numbers Trip Signup sheet At the Put-inGear and Outfitting Review
At the Put-inAdditional Leader Gear • Spare clothes / splash gear • Spare food and water • Duct tape • Flashlight • Fire starting kit • Saw • Leatherman tool • Space blanket(s)
At the Put-inRiverside Chat • Name of river, length, classification, water level • Description of difficult rapids and which to be scouted. • River hazards (strainers, undercuts, dams, pylons). • List alternate take-outs and evacuation routes • List goals of trip (play, teaching, first decent) • Group organization (lead, sweep, buddy, safety) • River signals with whistles, paddles (stop, go, left, right, OK). Never point to obstacles. • Swimming techniques (passive, aggressive, strainers, foot entrapment) • Who has never paddled this river (or at this level)? • Who is in a new boat? • Medical issues? Where is medicine? • Who has what gear: throw rope, 1st aid kit, rescue gear
Organizing for the River • Lead-Sweep • Buddy System • Experienced-Inexperienced • Where to put the Safety • Where to put the Newbees
Finally on the Water • Watch people getting in • Encourage warm-up play and rolls • Watch people at first rapid • Who will have trouble • Who should scout/walk rapids • Who should hike out now • Encourage boat swapping and instruction • Consider splitting up into multiple groups
River Rules / Courtesies / Considerations • Stay behind lead boat and ahead of sweep • Keep the group together, one stop all stop, one go all go • Down stream traffic has right of way • Don’t crowd the rapids, eddies, and play spots • Play hard, but be considerate • Have safety boat in the water or rope handy at play spots • Take sufficient rest breaks • Allow group to move at group’s pace (as time allows) • Take regular head counts to ensure the group is still together • Ensure everyone knows where to scout, portage, take out
At the Rapids • Ensure everyone knows what is ahead • Discuss rapid route and layout • Consider scouting method – boat, land • Where to place safety? • Who will go first, last? • Handling the timid
Handling the timid • Talk about the route • Discuss the points of interest • Talk about the swim potential and how/where to swim safety • Talk through the safety plan • Encourage them to watch others go first • Suggest someone run their boat • Support any decision to walk, even help carry
Rapid Recovery • Initiate rescue plan (Reach, Row, Throw, Go) • Recover people first, then gear • Encourage self rescue • Offer clear instructions • Assist swimmer with gear • Don’t crowd the rescue • Be prepared for Plan B • Assist swimmer with boat dump • Allow adequate time for recovery (prevent next swim) • Monitor number and severity of swims • Monitor for exhaustion and/or hypothermia
At the Takeout • Make sure everyone knows where to take out - which bank, etc • Make sure everyone gets there and gets out • If a long flatwater paddle is required, wait for the stragglers • If a long carryout is required, ensure that everyone knows the route • Help others, if necessary, after you have carried your boat to the loading point
Ground Operations / LogisticsAt the Take-Out / ReturnContinued • Run Shuttle – if Necessary • Help Others Get Their Boats to the Loading Point • Assist With Boat Loading as Required • When Everything is Loaded, Scan the Area for • Forgotten Items • Make Sure Everyone’s Car Starts • Head for Home – Same Road Rules
Reporting • Post the Location and Description of any River • Hazards on the Local Internet Forums (Pictures • Might be nice) • Optional – Write the Trip Report for the Newsletter • Or Assign it to Someone in the Group. Be Sure to • Include Pictures • Turn the Trip Sign-Up Sheet in to the Club • Secretary If There Was an Injury, Accident or • Other Unusual Occurrence. Retain a Copy for • Your Personal Records
Summary Water can be a dangerous medium for humans. It is the trip-leader’s responsibility to help his friends have a most excellent, enjoyable, adventure on the river, while helping to ensure that operations run smoothly and risk is mitigated as much as possible.
Bibliography • HCC New Paddler’s Guide • WWW.Alabamawhitewater.com • http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/paddle/rivplan.shtml • http://www.americanwhitewater.org/ • http://www.huntsvillecanoeclub.org/ • Smith, Monte, Southeastern Whitewater: Fifty of the Best River Trips from Alabama to West Virginia, Pahsimeroi Press, 1995. • Nealy, William, Whitewater Home Companion, Volumes I, II, Menasha Press, 1993