How to Coordinate a Trip

Introduction

The success and safety of a bushwalking trip begins with good preparation and planning.

Before setting out, carefully consider and resolve the following: gathering of information, terrain types, major hazards, escape routes, party size, weather reports, selection of companions, physical and medical fitness and party coordination

For day trips in rough or high country, and for all trips longer than a day, an adequate standard of ‘safety in the bush’ needs to be maintained.

For day walks in easy country the amount of planning required may not be as great, but it is wise to have one or more competent bushwalkers in the party in case an emergency occurs.

How to Register as a Trip Coordinator

To become a Coordinator, contact the Trips Secretary for registration trips@hobartwalkinclub.org.au

Once you have been registered as a coordinator, an ‘Activity management’ menu item will be added to your options after logging into the website. This menu item will allow you to offer an activity, and to update it or cancel it, and to manage bookings.

This step is only required prior to coordinating your first trip.

The Trip Coordinator

The Coordinator is responsible for planning and organising a trip or activity for the enjoyment of other club members.

Adequate levels of activity-related skills and an understanding of the principles of risk management by Trip Coordinators is critical.  However Trip Coordinators are not professionals nor trained to be Coordinators.  They are volunteers who share their experiences with others and may do so aided by fellow walkers.  Trip coordination may be totally a team effort and consequently setting minimum standards for a Trip Coordinator requires a common sense approach.

HWC acknowledges there is a need for a basic standard to be developed for the competency of Trip Coordinators to minimise the risk of incidents on walks.  A Coordinator Training Course to help new Coordinators is offered by the Club in May each year.  Watch out for information in the Circular.

HWC recommend a minimum standard for Coordinators which includes:

  1. Coordinators are full Club Members generally perceived as competent and experienced in the activities they organise because they have participated successfully in such activities.
  2. Coordinators have received Coordinator notes that outline their role and accept what the HWC expects of them.
  3. Experienced Coordinator(s) are available, if required, to mentor new or inexperienced Coordinators for at least the first activity and to attend the first activities organised.
  4. Coordinators have the required good equipment and skills outlined below OR, before embarking on an activity, ensure that the Party collectively has the fitness, appropriate skills and resources listed:
    • Navigation skills appropriate for activity being led OR ensuring a co-Participant has the necessary skills. Skills could range from:
      • good knowledge of an area
      • the ability to follow a simple sketch map or street directory for sign-posted walks
      • the ability to navigate with topographic map, GPS and compass in remote areas and read terrain for best safe access.
    • Reasonable competence in managing individuals, a group, time and incidents, and ability to accept changing plans to suit unexpected circumstances (some skills can only be assumed until circumstances test assumptions).
    • The ability to recognise significant risks, to heed risks reported by others, and to assess and resolve them with the Party.

The Participant

The participant is a person who takes part in an activity who is responsible for their own safety and conduct and who has a duty of care to their fellow participants and to the club

See the webpage about ‘Obligations of Participants‘ for further information.

Grading of the Trip

You may program a trip of any length or degree of difficulty, but must give an adequate description in the Circular.  Classify the trip according to the grading system in the Circular. The Trip Secretary or the Trip Programmers can help with grading.

See the ‘Gradings‘ webpage for further information.

Gathering Information

The first important step to be taken before a trip is the gathering of information. The list below provides a guide to the points to be considered.

  • On most day walks the Coordinator should be familiar with the area being visited. If not familiar with the route it may be advisable to do a pre-trip reconnaissance of part or the entire route, otherwise ask prior Coordinators/walkers to the area and check a detailed map for what can be expected. You may need to work out distances and times required to intermediate points.
  • Have a look at the HWC base camping spreadsheet for location ideas.
  • Collect maps and route guides. Internet sites, local publications, GPS plots, Google Earth and aerial photos may be useful also.
  • Check the nature of the terrain, water availability, track location(s), and the location of possible campsites. Plan walking distances; do not attempt too much in the time available.  Available campsites are a major consideration. Allow for the unexpected.  In particular allow for the non-achievement of planned objectives.
  • Find out if there are any difficulties such as route-finding or rivers and creeks prone to flooding.
  • Note possible escape routes to be used in case bad weather or other emergencies arise.
  • Keep alternative routes or trips in mind in case of bad weather.
  • Obtain weather and fire-danger reports. Comprehensive information is available on the internet.
  • Check hut locations. Always carry a tent on an overnight trip as huts may be dilapidated, already occupied or not reached on the day.
  • Investigate the locations of access roads and tracks. Infrastructure on maps may change. For private and government roads permission may be required and gate keys needed.
  • Check if permits are needed for a walk in your chosen area (eg entry fees apply for all national parks in Tasmania).

Offering your Activity

If you would like to coordinate a trip, contact the appropriate Trip Programmer listed near the back of the Circular to agree a date and a trip.  They will help you with the process required for inclusion in the Circular. If you are unsure how to enter your trip on the HWC website please contact tripsdata@hobartwalkingclub.org.au

Bookings and Circular Notice

If you want Participants to book for your trip, specify your booking requirements on the Preview insert on the HWC web page.  Bookings are essential for overnight trips.  For other trips booking is at your discretion (e.g. “book if you are not well known to the Trip Coordinator”).  Provide your contact details for people enquiring or booking.

Managing Booking Requests

The Club website will alert you by email regarding all booking requests that you receive. You can view the details of the requests through your Manage Bookings menu item.

Party Size

The party must have a minimal impact on the environment. In general we do not have a size limit but in sensitive alpine areas, the Club recommends a maximum of 8 people on overnight walks and 15 on day walks.  Smaller parties must carry equipment that will enable them to be in contact with Emergency Services either through mobile phones where range is certain or satellite phones or Personal Locator Beacons (PLB).

Checking Participants

If intending participants contact you to book, discuss details of the trip, so that both parties are confident the member can complete the trip satisfactorily and they will interact well with the rest of the group. You may refuse to accept anyone who you consider would find the trip too difficult or has inadequate gear. There may be other objective reasons to refuse participation. If you need to reject someone who has expressed an interest in your trip because of lack of fitness or experience, it helps if you can suggest a more suitable alternative from the Club program.

Prospectives and Visitors

All Prospective members are asked to book with you in advance.  Visitors can only attend with your prior approval and must be accompanied by a full member prepared to be responsible for them.  You need to assess their suitability for the trip.

Visitors must read and sign the trip waiver section of the Trip Report form, including the under 18 years of age section if applicable.

Youth

Participants under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult Member who will be responsible for them.  Young walkers do not always recognise potentially dangerous situations and might need to be controlled.  You are free to act or not act as accompanying adult Member for the trip.  If the youth is a visitor ensure the two Waivers on the Trip Report form are signed.

Private Property

Permission is needed to enter many private properties.  Obtain this in advance.  See the back of The Circular for custodians of the Landowner’s Liaison Book.  In some cases the booking must be made for you.  

See the ‘Private Land Guidelines‘ for further information.

Forestry Areas

Prior arrangements are often necessary to access these areas.

To obtain the key to the Norske Skog (formerly ANM) gates, ring 6261 4055.

Sustainable Timber Tasmania (formerly Forestry Tasmania),  also hold some keys, and require a deposit of $100 or $200.  For official Club trips the deposits have been prepaid: Sustainble Timer Tas holds Club deposit cheques.

See the Club Policy on ‘Obtaining Keys for Sustainable Timber Tasmania Areas‘ for further information.

Registration and De-registration

  1. Before departing on a walk the Trip Coordinator should leave written details of the trip with friends and/or family. This information should be detailed and include such things as your intended destination and possible route variations, names of members of the party, (if known at this stage), return date and time and the procedure to be followed if overdue.
  2. In an emergency the registration of your walk will be vital in any coordinated search. If there is a late change of venue have a member of the party send a text message to your nominated contact person.
  3. In national parks register your intended walk in the walkers’ registration book and sign out at the end of the walk. This is useful for your safety and, in addition, provides information for park usage statistics.
  4. Always report your return to the people who were given your trip information. This could save needless worry, and the cost and trouble of an unnecessary search.
  5. If a party does not return at the time advised, family and friends should be advised to contact the HWC emergency contact person first. See last page of the HWC Circular for the SR&T contact details.
  6. If your party is OK, but will arrive home late, contact all persons with whom trip details are left and inform them of the situation.

Transport

Allow participants freedom of choice re car-pooling.  Cost sharing is usual but contributions should only be collected upon return.  It is not a “fare”.

See the ‘Transport Pooling Guidelines‘ for further information and the recommended rate of contribution for fuel.

Cancelling a Trip

If bookings are taken, always get the contact details, including telephone numbers of those interested.

Should you wish to cancel or postpone a trip ensure you tell all would-be participants as soon as feasible.

Email or telephone all relevant persons to clearly state the trip is not happening. However, ask for and ensure all emails get an acknowledgement. If not, telephone to state the cancellation.

Not everyone checks their email or telephone messages regularly. If you fail to make verbal or confirmed email contact with every participant you or a delegate will have to go to the appointed meeting place to cancel the trip.

For non-booking trips, you or a delegate will have to go to the appointed meeting place to cancel the trip.

Remember there is always the possibility of someone else conducting the trip. Notify the Trip Programmer and hand the Report Form to the substitute Trip Coordinator before the trip.

NB Posting the cancellation of a trip on the HWC Facebook page is a useful way of alerting some members of the cancellation. However, since not all members use FB,  this channel cannot be relied upon and the Coordinator will still need to go to the appointed meeting place to cancel the trip

Coordinator Check List

Before the trip:  
Discuss with the Trip Programmer (TP) a suitable date and duration for your walk
The walk should be familiar to you and well within your capabilities or you have done a pre-trip reconnaissance or Walk Preview states it is exploratory
Discuss with TP the requirements for your Walk Preview
The Walk Preview must accurately describe the terrain and unusual risks the walkers will encounter
Is the walk suitable for Prospectives? Are there conditions i.e. fitness, confidence on boulders etc
Prepare suitable screening questions (if any)
What has the intended participant done before?
Do they have the right clothing/gear?  Can they cope with the walk conditions? When was the last similar walk?
State minimum requirements for the walk
Be prepared to tell intended participant ‘not this trip’
Prepare a Walk Preview, and add it to the website (Dashboard/Offer Activity) or email to Trips Data Officer
Obtain appropriate maps covering the whole trip
 On the day of the walk:
Arrive early  
Introduce yourself to the people as they arrive
Get people to print their names on the Walk Report form as they arrive;
Visitors and guardians must also sign the waiver
Organise car-pooling and state the minimum clothing / water requirements for the walk
Instruct drivers about the route, and rendezvous points
At the trail-head:
Explain trip and rest / regrouping stops  
Appoint a tail-end-Charlie
Remind everyone about what to do if they need to leave the track or if separated from party
Tell lead walkers to stop for next person at any intersection or place where trail is indistinct
 During the trip:
Keep the group together or within earshot, always in fog or scrub; if needed agree who will meet where by when  
Ensure those who were last to arrive at a stop have sufficient rest before group moves on
Have regular stops for clothing adjustment, rest, drink and food
Watch for signs of stress/walking problems – take preventative measures when warranted
Ensure all of group are aware of changes in direction and haven’t missed a turn
Regularly count numbers
Cope with any emergencies that arise (use the skills of the group)
 After the trip:
Check everyone has returned to vehicles
Ensure all cars have started before anyone leaves. For long drives consider some rendezvous points.
Sign forms if required
Complete report on website or advise the Trips Data Officer

 

Rats Castle summit by Geoff O’Hara