Organizer Training Process


The trip organizer curriculum currently consists of four "classes" (which are useful for general paddlers as well as people wanting to be organizers):  a day-long paddler development workshop, a day-long rescues class, a day-long group management class, and a trip planning exercise that is held over e-mail before the group management class. 

Depending on your previous experience, after 1-4 classes the Board will vote to make you a provisional organizer.  You will then be asked to lead at least 3 mentored paddles with existing OOPS organizers (different people each time, ideally) to build and assess your skills on actual trips.  Once you are comfortable leading groups, the Board will vote to make you a full organizer.

Special Cases

  • Paddlers that just want to be assistants must still take all applicable Trip Organizer Training (TOT) classes and complete at least 3 mentored paddles
  • Existing organizers who have not lead trips in some time (long enough such that the current board is not familiar with their skills)
    • We request that they lead at least 3 mentored trips and recommend that they take any of the TOT classes they think would help them update their skill set

Trip Organizer Training Classes

  • The trip organizer curriculum currently consists of four "classes":  a day-long paddler development workshop, a day-long rescues class, a day-long group management class, and a trip planning exercise that is held over e-mail before the group management class.
    • During the on-water classes, helpers will collect notes on the candidates which will be archived in the Organizer Tracking Document stored in the Trip Director’s Google account
  • Exception:
    • Someone with previous experience can skip some of the classes by assisting with classes, reviewing the training material (and providing material ideas for improving it), or by demonstrating the necessary expertise (certifications need to be backed up by paddling experience at that level)

Becoming a Provisional Organizer

  • When a candidate completes the classes, the Board reviews the notes from the on-water sessions and decides whether or not recommend the candidate become a provisional organizer, if they need to retake something first, or if they would benefit from additional outside instruction or practice.
  • When the candidate is ready to practice leading groups, they are nominated to the Board for approval as a provisional organizer.
  • On approval of provisional status, the Trips Board member sends a “congratulations you are a provisional Trip Organizer" e-mail to the candidate making clear that three mentored paddles is a minimum for provisional organizers, and that additional mentored paddles may be necessary to ensure the candidate is ready for leadership. 

Mentored Paddles

  • What is a mentored paddle?
    • The provisional Trip Organizer (TO) must plan and write the proposal for a trip, and then review it with their mentor before posting
    • The provisional TO must write a post-trip report and then review it with their mentor before posting
    • The provisional TO must take a leadership role during the paddle (including the pre-trip briefing using the pre-trip Checklist), accompanied by a mentor who will fulfill the full duties of a mentor (below) and an active assistant organizer
  • Who can be a mentor?
    • Current and active TOs who are good at self-assessment, assessing others, and leadership
    • Current and active TOs who write detailed and informative trip reports that provide a complete and thoughtful assessment of the candidate.
    • TOs who are willing to debrief the candidate right after the completion of the paddle
    • We recommend  a "narrow" list of mentors to better allow coaching and tracking of candidate progress.   This core list of mentors includes the following (as of 02/04/2020):
      • Bob Freshman, Dave Smith, Mel Wishan, Joe Howell, Chris Mayou, Shawn Altman, Dick and Karen Cogburn
  • Duties of a mentor
    • Help the TO candidate successfully plan, execute, and follow up on their trip
    • Assess the candidate’s ability to properly self-evaluate their skill set and weaknesses
    • Hold a debriefing session right after the paddle with the candidate to give feedback not given while under way
    • Write their own trip report where they answer the below questions about the candidate, and note any things of importance that happened during the paddle which need to be shared (in particular, good or worrying things that should be followed up on by later mentors)
      • The Board gets copied on all trip reports, so they will see these and presumably ask follow-up questions if they see something that concerns them
    • We do not recommend mentors create non-critical incidents to test candidate unless appropriate
  • Helping mentors be successful
    • When a mentored trip is proposed, the Trips Board member should contact the mentor and remind them to answer the following questions in their trip report:
      • What were your impressions of the provisional TO?
      • Are there things that need to be addressed?
      • Is the candidate able to be an effective leader?
      • Is the candidate ready to lead on their own?  Why or why not?
      • What additional training/mentoring does the candidate think they need?   Do you agree with their self-assessment?
    • The Trips Board member should contact the mentor after the trip and make sure they file a trip report that answers these questions, or ask these questions if they were not answered in the trip report
    • The President or Trips Board member are requested to encourage candidates to complete mentored paddles relatively promptly after their approval as provisional trip organizers
    • Duties of the Trips Board Member
      • Remind mentors that they need to file a separate trip report, and follow up when the trip is over to get that report
      • Share a summary of the mentor reports with the next mentor (but not the raw report) and with the TO candidate
        • And ask for the next mentor to look for things we still need to see the candidate improve
      • As early as possible, make it clear to the candidate that they may need to do more than 3 mentored paddles
      • Provide the mentor report summary when the candidate is proposed to the Board
      • Keep a paper trail on candidate progress throughout the mentoring process.
        • If the candidate is recommended to the Board with conditions or accommodations, this paper trail should be retained.  Otherwise, delete them after a year.

    Moving from Provisional to full Trip Organizer Status

    • After at least 3 mentored trips, the Board discusses the candidate and whether they are ready to move to full organizer status, or if more mentored paddles are needed (this can happen by e-mail or in person)
      • Input to this decision should be the mentor summary prepared for the Board, feedback gathered during the initial classes, and any other feedback received about the candidate
      • If the candidate is clearly not ready to “fly solo” after 3 properly-mentored paddles, this should clearly be communicated to the candidate and they should be encouraged to set up additional mentored paddles to work on skill gaps (or demonstrate those gaps were incorrectly assessed)
        • Ideally, we should alert the candidate that more than three mentored paddles will be needed as soon as possible.
        • From the beginning, we need to be very clear that 3 mentored paddles are a minimum
    • When the Board thinks a candidate is ready to be nominated as a full Trip Organizer:
      • They present their recommendation and a summary of the candidate’s mentor feedback to the Board for a vote.
      • They recommend any conditions or accommodations that should be put on the new TO
        • And guidelines for how those restrictions should be lifted, if ever.
        • Examples
          • If the organizer has conditions that prevent them from doing rescues, they must always lead with at least two other organizers not subject to accommodations so that there are a sufficient number of people present to do rescues and keep group awareness if the other participants are not able to fulfill those duties.
          • If the organizer had conditions that would mentally incapacitate them if a certain number of things “go south”, they must lead with at least two other organizers not subject to accommodations so that ratio or organizers to participants laid out in the Activity Policies are maintained when the organizer is no longer able to act as an organizer
    • If the Board approves of moving the candidate to full Organizer status, the Trips Board Member sends a “Congratulations you are now a full Organizer” letter to the candidate from the Board that includes any conditions or accommodations recommended for the new TO. 

    Once someone becomes an organizer

    • If concerns are raised about an organizer, they should be communicated to the Board and documented
    • If paddlers are approved as organizers with conditions or accommodations, this needs to be clearly communicated/documented for all people approving trips and events
      • For example
        • In event pre-registration for trip organizers, the event czar may decide that organizers with accommodations/conditions do not count towards the trip organizer total
        • In trips organized during an event, trips lead by organizers with accommodations/conditions need to have additional organizers (without conditions or accommodations) added to the trip to meet the conditions of their accommodations
    • Organizers are expected to continually self-assess
      • Lead in environments one level below their skill level so that they have some margin of safety should conditions worsen or there is an incident in conditions
      • Give up their organizer status/request accommodations when they are no longer able to effectively lead without help
    • Organizers are expected to continue building their skills
      • Feel OK with asking for additional TOs beyond those required by the Activity Policy until they are fully confident of their group-management skills.
      • Take classes, work with other organizers, etc. to keep on growing their skill set, especially in areas where they feel weak.
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