Trip Leader Information

Duties & Authority IAW TVCC Bylaws

TVCC has a long tradition of providing paddling trips and training intermediate paddlers.  In order to continue this tradition safely, TVCC herein provides a set of guidelines for Trip Leader reference in planning club trips.  Safety guidelines are, for the most part, simply a matter of common sense and reflect procedures that experienced recreational boaters already follow.  Still, a safety plan will help ensure that trips are free of undue hazards, and that participants know how to respond in the event of an accident.

The procedures that follow are designed to help Trip Leaders develop a sound plan of safety.  They are “best practice” standards for safe paddling in any case, but important steps to follow on any club-sponsored trip.  A club-sponsored trip is any formal, pre-planned trip posted with a designated leader in Club forums.

Prior to the Club Trip or Activity, the Trip Leader will:

  • Have prior experience on the river/body of water in question, or recruit a boater who has the necessary river experience to lead the trip on the water.
  • Screen trip participants prior to departure as to their skill level, experience, equipment (to include flotation), roll efficiency, etc.  As necessary, pre-screening can be prior to put-in, at which point trip leaders are authorized to exclude those with insufficient skill or inadequate equipment, or for reasons listed below.
  •  Trip Leaders may allow non-TVCC members as a one- time guest(s).  The guest(s) must sign the club waiver and have adequate skills and equipment for the trip.  Guest status is a one- time exception, after which guests must join the club to participate further.
  • Be aware of weather conditions/water levels and make safety judgements accordingly.
  • Develop an evacuation plan, which could include land route evacuation, available vehicles, and whereabouts of the nearest Emergency Room.  For assistance in developing an evacuation plan, contact the TVCC Safety Chair (
  • Ensure that the TVCC Waiver of Liability is signed by every trip participant on EVERY official TVCC sponsored trip.  All minors must have a waiver release signed by their parent/guardian PRIOR to the trip or event.
  • Trip Leaders will recruit adequate support boaters, and may use trip assistants/coordinators to track participants or otherwise assist, as desired.
  • The Trip Leader has the authority to cancel or abort ANY trip at his/her discretion, for ANY reason.
  • The Trip Leader has the authority to deny ANY person from participating for ANY reason, to include but not limited to questions of temperament, skill, strength, and equipment.
  • Before putting on the river or other water body, the Trip Leader will gather the entire group for a Safety Talk, which shall include:
  • Explanation of the nature of the risk involved in the sport and that by signing the liability waiver, participants have waived the right to sue at law.
  • Description of the water and its conditions, hazards, and rapids.
  • Survey the group for allergies and potentially limiting medical conditions.
  • Survey gear and outfitting to assure all participants are equipped for the conditions (including hats/sunscreen if sea kayaking, dry clothes, water, food).
  • Review river signals (stop, go, right, left, are you o.k.?).
  • Count the number of throw ropes and first aid kits and who has them (the Trip Coordinator should always set an example by carrying both).
  • Identify the members in the group who have knowledge of CPR and First Aid.
  • Appoint a lead and sweep boat, and explain controlled river descent techniques.  Individual participants are responsible to stay between the lead and sweep boats, and should have the (a) skill (boat control), and (b) sufficient group awareness to do so.
  • Have the group check each other’s equipment before embarking, for example: grab loops out, tighten helmets and life jackets, etc.

After the trip, the Trip Leader shall

  • Notify the Safety Chair of any hazardous incident, lost boat, or injury requiring professional medical treatment, as soon as possible en route home or immediately upon return.
  • Publish any found hazards (i.e., wood, etc.) as soon as possible upon return, using existing Club forums.