Leader's Guide (Print for Your Reference)

Table of Contents Other Things You Will Need
Why Lead Trips?
Selecting Trips
Planning Trips
Advertising Trips
Pre-Trip Organizing
Running Trips
Driver Reimbursement
Contacting Adventuring

Trip Leader's Checklist (General)

Bicycle Ride Leader Guidelines

Adventuring Request & Release form
(Also available pre-filled at bottom of trip page)

Photography Submission Procedure


The purpose of this guide is to assist both potential and experienced trip leaders in selecting and organizing Adventuring trips. The recommendations listed may not cover all situations and may not apply to all trips. While this guide contains information from the "Articles of Incorporation," it is not intended as a complete source of Adventuring policies. If you have any policy questions contact any member of the Adventuring Operations Committee. Comments and suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Why Lead Trips?

No one person or committee in Adventuring organizes trips. The success of the group depends on the willingness of individuals to plan and lead trips. If you think there are not enough trips offered, or that a particular type of trip should be offered more often, perhaps it is time to consider leading one.

Much satisfaction can be gained from organizing a successful trip. Participants appreciate your efforts and you get to know them better than if you were just one of the group. You also have opportunities to learn a few things.

Active trip leaders are considered members of the Advisory Council. This group meets at least twice a year and advises the Operations Committee on matters of Adventuring policy and practice.

Selecting Trips

Start with something simple and familiar, then work up to more involved trips. Before scheduling your own, you may want to co-lead a trip with a more experienced leader.

Coming up with ideas for trips isn’t difficult. You need not be original. Some of our most popular trips are done year after year.

Remember that not every participant is interested in hurling his or her body at planet Earth with nothing more than a flimsy piece of cloth strapped to his back. There is considerable interest in easier trips that don’t require a high level of skill or physical condition. Just make sure trips involve some form of physical outdoor activity.

Some resources for trip ideas are:

• Trips that haven’t been offered recently. Look through some old issues of the newsletter or call the particular Program Coordinator (in Adventuring, these are divided up as WOODS, WHEELS, WATER, or WINTER).

• Trips that have been done recently or are already on the Calendar of Events. Activities like skiing and skating can be repeated in the same season, even at the same location. Activities like hiking and canoeing can have completely different perspectives when led at different times of the year.

• Annual trips usually led by someone else. Some trip leaders enjoy leading the same trip every year. Others may be ready to move on to a new challenge, so a popular trip might not have a leader. Ask these leaders about adopting their trips.

• Activities that you have done on your own, with family, or with friends.

• Vacation ideas: rafting through the Grand Canyon, skiing in the Rockies, biking across the Netherlands and hiking in the Alps are some of our successful extended Adventuring trips.

• Other groups’ activities: consult the members, newsletters, websites, and publications of the Sierra Club, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, etc.

• Guide books.

• Other trip leaders.

Planning Trips

Once you have an idea for a trip, you have to work out the details. Do as much research and planning as you can before letting others know about the trip, so that you may answer questions about it.

Decide when the trip will take place. Know what kind of weather, insects, water levels, crowds, etc., are expected at that time of year. Some facilities are seasonal and are subject to being closed when you may want to use them; always check before deciding.

Select a route using available maps, guidebooks, etc. If the trip will be a long one, make sure there are some "escape routes" if a participant becomes exhausted or injured.

If the trip is a bicycle ride, then you should have pre-ridden your route recently to verify the accuracy of the queue sheet and to be aware of road conditions, construction areas and other changes. Some of our established queue sheets were developed years ago. Neighborhoods change and construction projects alter routes. You should make every effort to pre-ride your route before leading others on the route.

If the trip is not a circuit, beginning and ending at the same location, you must arrange for car spotting. This can add time and complexity to the trip. Some options are:

• Meet at the ending location, load participants and gear into half of the vehicles, leave the other half of the vehicles there, and drive to the beginning location. This keeps all participants together for the entire trip, but will require up to twice the normal number of vehicles at twice the cost.

• Meet at the beginning location, leave all passengers and gear there, drive all vehicles to the ending location, and return with only enough vehicles to hold the drivers. This option requires only enough vehicles to hold participants and gear, but part of the group is kept waiting during the car shuttle process.

Make copies of maps and/or written directions for the drivers. A good way to handle this is to incorporate driving directions and maps into a single detailed trip description sheet(s) along with equipment lists, detailed itinerary, etc. that should be considered by all trip participants. Don’t plan to travel in a caravan--it is difficult to maintain and can be unsafe.

Decide if the trip should be limited to participants with a certain level of skill or physical condition. If beginners are welcome, say so in the trip description.

Set any limits on the minimum and maximum number of participants. Pick a range that will be large enough for safety and small enough for you to maintain control.

Estimate costs.

The costs must be divided equally among all participants, including yourself. You may not profit in any way from the trip. You may accept commissions (e.g., free transportation or accommodations) only if the full value of the commission is used to defray the cost of the trip for all. Some of the costs you need to calculate are:

• Trip fees: as of 1 January 2012, the Adventuring trip fees are: $2.00 per participant for a single-day trip; $4.00 per participant for a multiple-day trip. Trip leaders must pay the trip fee.

• Transportation costs. See the chapter at the end of this guide.

• Lodging. Relatively inexpensive accommodations are usually preferred.

• Meals. Determine whether to have individual meals, group meals, or a combination. Group meals help bring everyone together but may create more work for you. Try asking a participant to organize a meal. Alcohol should be calculated separately from food; note that in some areas such as many National Parks and state parks, the consumption of alcohol is not permitted.

• Outfitter charges.

• Special equipment rentals.

• Permit fees, registration fees, entrance fees, etc.

• Toll calls, postage, photocopying, etc. done in preparation for the trip. Decide if a deposit is necessary. Make sure you ask for enough to cover your pre-trip expenses. State the amount, what it covers, the deadline for receiving it, and the refund policy. Scout out the trip beforehand. This is strongly recommended. It will let you determine or verify map information, mileage, landmarks, parking areas, regulations, and much more. If this is going to be a "common discovery," say so.

Advertising Trips

Now that the trip has been planned, let others know about it, since many people plan ahead for their weekends, give as much advance notice as you can.

Write a trip description using the following guidelines:

• Include as much information as possible--the basic plan, skill level required, limits on number of participants, costs, deposits, deadlines, etc.

• To enforce pre-registration, leave out the meeting time or place.

• Use actual dollar amounts for all costs. If an amount is estimated, state so.

• Use terms like "easy," "moderate," and "strenuous." Elevation changes, distances, etc., by themselves are not very meaningful to the average participant.

If this is a ride, is it a group ride or an individual ride ending in a predetermined place? This is a matter of ride leader style. Do you intend to ride as a group for the duration of the ride and deal with mechanical failures or rider difficulty as a group, or do you think of the ride as an individual trip with everyone responsible for following a queue sheet and completing the ride on their own resources? Tell the group what style ride they are on to eliminate misconceptions.

• If you lead a group oriented ride consider the following recommendations: Discuss how you will deal with group fragmentation during the ride. For example, what will happen if part of the group is stopped by a red light or someone has a flat? Possibilities: The lead group will wait for the trailing group, the lead group will wait at a predetermined location along the ride for the trailing group to catch up, or consider using an experienced rider as a “Sweep” making sure the Sweep and the Leader are able to communicate.

• In addition to the facts, include something to make the trip sound interesting and enjoyable. If possible, announce a trip at a trip planning meeting. These meetings, called 3-4 times a year by all Program Coordinators, give you the opportunity to work with other trip leaders and allow you to avoid calendar conflicts. At other times, notify the Program Coordinator of your plans by using the "Suggest A Trip" feature on Adventuring’s website at <www.adventuring.org> or by phone; he/she will advise you of any conflicts or possibly a more desirable schedule.

After receiving the Program Coordinator’s go-ahead, get the trip description published through Adventuring’s website. The Program Coordinator will issue the Trip Leader’s access web page address; fill in all pertinent information and click! It is very important that contact information such as a phone number and if possible email address are included; incomplete postings will not be displayed on the Adventuring Calendar.

If mailing your trip description is preferred, send the description directly to your Program Coordinator. The deadline for mailed newsletter publication is usually near the middle of the preceding month, though this varies. This allows for the timely printing and sending to those who prefer a mailed version. There is a subscription charge for the mailed version; it is currently $20, but is subject to change without notice.

Pre-trip Organizing

After a trip is publicized, you will receive calls from interested participants. If you took time to write a good trip description, this should not require much effort. You may want to keep a record of a participant’s name, phone number, car pool information (driver, car size, location), etc.

When taking reservations, remember that Adventuring trips are open to everyone on a first-come, first-serve basis. You may not exclude someone because of gender or mere personality conflicts. The only reasons for excluding someone must be clearly related to group safety and smooth functioning.

Make sure participants know the level of difficulty, ground rules, costs, sleeping arrangements, food arrangements, etc. Advise them on what to bring on the trip (e.g., clothing, rain gear, food, shelter). If necessary, send them a trip information sheet(s) which offers more detail; this may also include maps and driving directions.

If this is a ride, be aware of the riding experience level of individuals in your group. Have they participated in an Adventuring ride previously? Do they have experience riding in a group? Tell them what to expect related to traffic, navigation, etc. Remind them to think for themselves and to always consider the safety of those behind them. Note the navigational and vehicular challenges of the route. Where are you leading the group? Does the route follow multimodal trails or will the group be expected to ride in traffic?

Give riders the basic rules for using multimodal trails: alert pedestrians before passing, do not ride double, pedestrians have the right of way.

Give riders the basic rules for street riding: Discuss the traffic conditions, consider establishing mid-ride waypoints to wait for those left behind by red lights or changing traffic, and there is safety in numbers when riding in traffic—consider holding the group together and taking the lane.

Collect deposits from participants, if applicable to your trip. Allow sufficient time for checks to clear.

Make reservations, send deposits, and obtain permits.

Keep reasonable records of the income and expenses for the trip. At its discretion, the Operating Committee may request these records.

Arrange car pooling. Participants willing to serve as drivers should have cars that seat at least four people comfortably for day trips; allow for less if the trip requires extensive equipment and/or an overnight stay. Put drivers and passengers in touch with each other to complete arrangements.

Make sure any special equipment is available, and know who is bringing it.

Print out a copy of the Adventuring Request & Release form from the Adventuring website or request a mailed copy from the Program Coordinator. For mailed copies, you need to allow two weeks before your trip.

At the last minute, confirm reservations, check the weather forecast, and leave an itinerary and emergency phone number with a responsible person.

Running Trips

The big day has arrived. If you have planned everything well, the trip itself should go smoothly. Don’t forget to enjoy it yourself! The trip can be run informally, but you should maintain control at all times. You may set any reasonable guidelines as long as everyone knows them in advance. If someone refuses to follow those guidelines, you may tell them that they are no longer a part of the trip.

At the beginning of the trip:

Have all participants sign the release form.

Collect trip fees.

• Introduce everyone and make any newcomers feel welcome.

• Let participants know that it is their responsibility to obtain the consent of anyone they wish to photograph.

• Have participants who are interested sign up for a complimentary newsletter.

• Make note of your car mileage if you have not already calculated transportation costs.

If this is a ride, pay particular attention to the physical demands of the route. People have varying physical abilities. Monitor the comfort level of your group. Slow down if necessary or take more frequent breaks.

Ride Leaders also need to be especially aware of the implications related to the size of the group.

• If the group is large the ride becomes much more complicated. It will fragment into groups because of traffic, lights and rider abilities. Consider how you will manage the group.

• Consider establishing gathering spots along the route for the group to reform.

• Ask experienced riders to lead subgroups or act as sweeps.

• Distribute cell phone numbers so the group can communicate.

Be prepared for the unexpected.

Accidents can happen, and have happened, even on a simple day trip. Some safety ideas are:

• Bring a first aid kit. If you do not have one of your own, borrow one from another trip leader and be sure you know how to use it.

• Bring any special equipment needed for your activity.

• Have participants provide an emergency phone number.

• Any participant who may require medication should let you know. Be sure you get specific instructions as to its use and dosage; this is especially true of those persons who have allergies to insect stings, asthma, etc.

• Turn back if necessary.

• If an accident occurs, stay calm and assess the situation. Send someone (more than one person if possible) for help, making sure they know the exact nature of the emergency, where you are, and where they are going. Write it down. Don’t try to perform emergency procedures you are not qualified to do. First aid and CPR courses are strongly recommended for all trip leaders.

On some trips, like those to commercial ski areas, it is not necessary to keep everyone together. On other trips it may be very important for the group to remain together at all times. Among the precautions you should consider are: Appoint someone familiar with the route (not necessarily you) to take the lead, with instructions to stop at any points where someone is likely to get lost. Appoint another person as a "sweep" to bring up the rear. Count heads frequently.

Be considerate of those who are not as experienced or not in as good physical condition as others. For example, the last ones to arrive at a rest stop should have enough time to rest. They probably need it the most.

A final note on Adventuring Ride Leader responsibilities.

Few of us will sit at a red light or unclip and come to a complete stop at a stop sign when it is obvious no cars are near the intersection. You should slow enough to be seen as responsible. A comment heard from a DC police officer in Haynes Point concerning bicycles and stop signs, “You don’t have to unclip, but you do have to slow down and look for traffic or you will get a citation.”

In Arlington, Alexandria and DC drivers routinely give bicycles the right of way even if this right of way is against a traffic light. This can lead to confusion on the part of inexperienced riders in the group. Do not assume the right of way or assume the the right of way granted to you was meant for everyone in the group.

Inexperienced riders or even experienced riders who are exhausted and riding head down have a tendency to blindly follow the rider in front of them. This makes it incumbent on all riders to consider the safety of everyone in the group who is behind them.

As a ride leader you should set a good example by being a role model for others. You represent bicyclists in a fashion that should make us proud. You do not have special privileges over cars because you ride a bicycle. The safety of pedestrians is your responsibility even if this means you have to stop and dismount. Don’t be that bicyclist others talk about in a negative context.

Minimize your group’s impact on the environment.

The number of times an individual has done an activity is not necessarily an indication of their environmental knowledge. Washing dishes in a stream is an example of a common, but harmful, process. Set a good example for the rest of the group; use Leave No Trace methods when possible.

Make sure participants share equally in the work of the trip (e.g., washing dishes, cooking, cleaning).

Use your camera. Slides and photos are useful in promoting Adventuring activities; always get written permission of those you photograph.

At the end of the trip:

• Calculate the transportation costs. Use the formulas on the final page.

• Collect transportation fees from all participants, including drivers.

Reimburse the drivers. Remember that all drivers get the same amount. You may have passengers directly pay drivers only if you make adjustments for uneven numbers of passengers. Using the example on the last page, you would have each passenger pay their driver $6. You would then take $4 from the driver with three passengers and give $2 each to the other two drivers.

• If there is a large amount of money left over, it should be refunded to the participants. If the amount is small, suggest that the group donate it to Adventuring.

Follow Up

Write a brief report about the trip for the newsletter. Trip reports offer people an idea of what happens on Adventuring trips. One to three short paragraphs will suffice. This can be done on Adventuring’s website through the Trip Leader’s page where you originally posted your trip.

If you prefer to mail your trip report, include it with the complimentary newsletter request form, the release form, and a check made out to "Adventuring"; a pre-addressed stamped envelope is available by mail from Adventuring upon request. The check should include trip fees plus any money left over after expenses and refunds. The release form must be returned even if the trip did not take place. Just write "CANCELED" across the form. Return the forms as soon as possible; if you are leading more than one trip per month, return the forms after the last trip.

Return any borrowed equipment such as first aid kits to the owner(s).

Save any information that may be useful the next time you or someone else leads the same trip.

Driver Reimbursement

The rate for reimbursement of drivers is 30¢ per mile.  (This rate is derived from the IRS' 2012 business mileage rate of 55.5¢ per mile.  Adventuring divides the IRS rate in half and rounds the result to the nearest multiple of 5.  Thus, 55.5 ÷ 2 = 27.75.  The nearest multiple of 5 to this figure is 30.)

Here's how to calculate the driver reimbursement:

Total Cost = number of round-trip miles x 0.30 x number of drivers.

Passenger Cost = Total Cost ÷ total number of people on trip (drivers + passengers).

Per Driver Reimbursement = (Passenger Cost x number of passengers) ÷ number of drivers.

Example:  Round-trip distance is 200 miles. There are 3 drivers and 7 passengers for a total of 10 people.

Total Cost = 200 round-trip miles x $0.30 per mile  x 3 drivers = $180.00

Passenger Cost = $180.00 Total Cost  ÷ 10 people on trip = $18.00

Per Driver Reimbursement = ($18.00 Passenger Cost x 7 passengers) ÷ 3 drivers = $42.00

Note:  Adjustments may be made if there are exceptional circumstances such as:

  • Tolls.  If significant, these may be added to the total cost.
  • Extra vehicles.  If someone prefers to take his or her vehicle when it isn't needed, that person and vehicle may be left out of the calculation and reimbursement.
  • Special vehicles.  An adjustment may be made for a vehicle that is needed but which is especially expensive to operate (a van or a truck).
  • Varying departure points.  If participants are arriving at the beginning of a trip from diverse points, each carpool can determine its own method of driver compensation as mileage will vary.

Contacting Adventuring

You can always reach Adventuring through its website at <www.adventuring.org>. Various options are available on our website that allow you to see the current calendar, suggest or post a trip, and a listing of current members of Adventuring’s Operations Committee as well as its Program Coordinators (WOODS, WHEELS, WATER, and WINTER).

All completed trip Request & Release forms, checks for trip fees, and any written communications should be sent to.

PO Box 23655
Washington DC 20026


(This document was revised April  25, 2013. Comments and corrections should be directed to the Operations Committee.)

Adventuring, P.O. Box 23655, Washington DC 20026 USA (202) 462-0535

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