This page has practical advice from former trip leaders and rules from De Anza College, the Foothill De Anza District, the Outdoor Club constitution, bylaws or other votes.
Compiled by Mary Donahue, Outdoor Club Senior Faculty Advisor.
Every club officer and everyone designing/leading a club event, is expected to:
Act as a role model in all club activities, including using environmentally sound practices, and Leave no trace camping ethics.
Work to make all club events beginner friendly.
Any club member who has a 2.25 grade average can be a trip leader (for overnight trips, leaders must have participated in planning and running two previous overnights, or work with a co-leader who has).
Besides getting to be in charge of the trip, the trip leader gets paid a credit towards a future event when all the work and paperwork is done, $5 for a day trip plus 50 cents per person paid, or $10 plus 50 cents per person for an overnight trip. A bonus of $5 will be given for trips that break even.
Trip leaders either do the following personally or delegate it and follow up to make sure it was done.
There are lots of people who make sincere sounding promises to help and never come through.
1. Dream up a trip. Plan it out, including costs, keeping the following in mind:
A) It must be in the United States (although club people have organized non-club trips to Baja, etc.). Until Aug. 2000 we could not go out of state- this could change again.
B) De Anza’s Risk Management does not want us to go skydiving, bungee jumping, parasailing, hang gliding, scuba diving, extreme whitewater rafting, or biking the coast highway. (But people can go on their own as a non-club event). From this we can extrapolate that cliff diving, a 30 mile hike in one day, rappelling off the Flint Center or jet ski races in the De Anza pool are not a prudent idea. So, if it’s something someone could get seriously hurt at, try it as a non-club event.
Likewise there are many other De Anza rules which must be followed, including no alcohol or drugs on any on- or off-campus event. But club people can choose to go for pizza and beer as a non-club event, or after the true end of an official event. (Any possible non-club events, even a last minute ‘Let’s go on a hike this weekend,’ can’t be discussed during our meetings, or publicized at our tables so wait until after. That way if something goes wrong, De Anza won’t be held responsible.)
C) We need a mix of cheap and moderately priced events. Really expensive events are usually best as non-club sponsored, unless they have a great group rate, because we can’t get enough signups to cover expenses without raising the price too high.
D) It works best to leave the ski trips to the Ski Club, but people can ski or snowboard on our annual winter Yosemite camping trip.
E) A faculty or staff member (note more on faculty below) must be on the trip or at the event. Some faculty don’t want to be very involved, so you may need to simplify their involvement. BUT REMEMBER: Some people won’t participate (or parents won’t let them) if there’s not enough faculty involvement, so don’t ‘simplify’ too much. This is not meant to be a way to get around De Anza’s rules, but to work with them.
F) Only De Anza students can participate. Some students have had their spouses enroll in a swim class, for example, to be able to go on trips. For the 2014 winter trip, one graduate currently at U.C. Santa Barbara enrolled in a De Anza online class to be able to go.
This applies to faculty/staff spouses as well.
Special arrangements can be made for needed non-students (for example, someone who will do instruction on a trip or an interpreter for a deaf student). The form to be used and approved by Risk Management is (on-campus) ‘volunteer of record’ plus (off-campus) ‘student field trip/excursion volunteer roster.’ Ask for details if you think your trip will need this. Plan for it in advance, it can easily take a week or two for paperwork to be done, and get required signatures and can take months for fingerprints to go through.
No, the volunteer roster can’t be used to get a spouse, future spouse, friend, etc. on a trip by pretending they are a useful person, but if they are already a volunteer of record to help with classes, for example, they may be able to go with us. The Risk Management rule is that they “provide necessary assistance in the activity.”
G) A trip/event needs to be planned completely, well in advance, to be advertised and promoted enough, or you just won’t get people signed up. Overnights need planning months in advance.
H) It has never worked well to try two big events on the same weekend, or sometimes even two weekends in a row. People just don’t have the time or money for two big expensive things in a row. Tents need to be dried out and returned, etc.
I) Most students can only attend events on weekends, but during breaks we can do weekday events.
People sometimes ask why we have surfing lessons in the afternoon on a school day, or very, very early in the morning. To be sure we have big enough waves we schedule surfing lessons for the time when there is an extra low tide going towards high, which only happens a few times in daylight hours each month.
J) Some of our most popular trips and events have been ones to try something new that it would be hard to try on your own (or just more fun with a group), such as surfing lessons, ocean kayaking, and winter camping. We have been complimented by the administration on the number of beginner-oriented, inclusive trips we do. As you plan, think about how to make your event easier for first-timers. (You were one once, remember?)
2. Finds a faculty or staff member to go on the trip (especially one interested in or with special knowledge of the subject of the trip). Hint: Faculty are aware of how much work it is to be a club ‘advisor,’ so don’t use that term. Note that not all De Anza employees qualify as staff. For example, a student hired to work as a lifeguard or security person would not qualify. The faculty member goes free (but pays for their own gas, lunch, etc.).
Other faculty going on a trip, just for fun, not to represent De Anza’s interests, usually go at a club member’s price and terms, unless we would lose money that way. This is to encourage more faculty to get to know us, so we will have more available to officially go on our trips.
3. Learns regulations and informs trip members of them (Firewood collecting allowed? Fires limited or banned? Food storage rules? Campground quiet hours? No volleyball in the campsite or on the beach? No bikes except on specific roads and paths?). The most important rules should be in writing in the trip agreement and
Park Service photo of a regular trip participant:
Boats, and anything that comes in contact with the water (a boat trailer that you drive into the water to launch, waders, paddles, Tevas, nets, etc.) must be cleaned before use in any waterway (except the De Anza swimming pool). When we use them in Grand Teton park, they must be cleaned again before use in Yellowstone waters and again when we come back to the Tetons and again when we get home. There are places so infected we do not paddle there.
4. Gets an okay for all the details of the trip/event from the Club Executive Board (officers and advisor).
Makes fliers, (yes, De Anza has specific rules about posting fliers, and they have to be approved by the advisor or at an officers meeting before you post them), detailed receipts with safety rules, and detailed signup sheets with carpooling disclaimer and the words ‘no refunds’ and gets them approved by the faculty member representing De Anza’s interests (or the club advisor if the official trip faculty member is unavailable, or does not want to do much work before the trip, or has never done one of our trips and doesn’t understand all the rules). If necessary, (especially the first time we’ve tried out a potentially risky new event), helps the club advisor get the trip approved by the appropriate Administration and Risk Management representative(s).
TRIP CANCELLATION: be sure to put it in your trip info for every overnight trip with large numbers of people, and possibly for other trips, that we may not have the time to call everyone and cancel an event properly, so it is wise to check the website page about a trip before leaving on a major trip to see if the faculty person got suddenly sick or the Rangers closed the campground, for example.
Before going to the club board, have suggestions ready for a trip price which will make the trip pay for itself, including paying for trip leader and faculty, propane use, fliers, etc. You will need a price that works even if few people sign up. This way, our club dues can go for new equipment or repairs instead of trips that lose money.
Club members should get a lower price or something free, and possibly a earlier sign-up. For most trips we charge $10 more for non-members.
Resists the temptation to do events totally for free. People were quite excited about, for example, a free wilderness first aid lecture. Many people said we should do it. Only a handful attended, and the invited expert lecturer was offended and irritated. So, the club board usually decides to do something like the following: We charge $10 for a bike ride which really has no expenses. For people who actually show up, $5 will be credited towards a future event for members, and $5 will go towards lunch or pizza, or ? after the ride. This way people have some money involved, and are likely to show up. Non-club events, where people just decide to go on their own, can be free, but be prepared to be disappointed at the turnout.
Once a price has been determined, stick to it. Even with our most popular trips, people wait until the last minute to sign up and it’s tempting to lower the price to get more signups. Don’t get your ego involved too much in the number of people who sign up.
If there is a lower price for early signups, it means actual paid signups, not people who intended to sign up. You will very likely be pressured by people who want the lower price but didn’t get around to actually signing up within the required time. Likewise, first come-first served for equipment rentals is for people actually paid.
Also suggest to the club board use of parking spaces. A group campsite might hold 40 people but only have parking for 5 cars. A solution to this is usually a space for the official faculty rep, (the kayak trailer?) and the others going to the biggest carpools. Other drivers should be warned in writing in their receipt they will need to park elsewhere (day-use, for example) and might even need to pay an extra fee.
On one Yosemite trip we decided carpools of 3 or more got to park, everybody else would go to day use. This was because each campsite held 6 people, but only two cars. One guy showed up driving only himself, and parked in a site, saying he’d move later. Around 9 p.m. carpools started arriving, and this bozo wouldn’t move.
Since then we have simply charged higher prices for smaller carpools. We can end up buying more campsites if lots of people want to drive as couples and get a campsite parking space, but we’re covered by the higher charge. And if it evens out because four person carpools share with two person carpools, we further assure that the trip will break even.
Does 1 through 4 before the trip is announced to the public and well in advance of the date. Please remember we need two weeks notice (three weeks for a major event, which is what most of our events are), to get our plans okayed on the Inter Club Council calendar, we have off-campus event (and overnight off-campus event) forms the advisor/ faculty representative must complete at least two weeks in advance and get signatures from one or more Deans and/or Vice Presidents, and we need 8 to 24 weeks to get campsite reservations some places. Experience shows that the detailed work necessary for number 4 may be forgotten in the excitement of a trip already announced outside of the club Executive Board. Report back to the board, senior faculty advisor and faculty going on the trip during the time prior to the trip. This may require attending meetings regularly.
5. Makes reservations or gets permits (back country permit, fire permit, etc.). Remember, we need to vote and fill out specific forms to be able to get reimbursed for expenditures. The trip leader usually does not have to put up their own money and wait for weeks to get paid back; the faculty advisor can frequently be talked into that. (And remember there is a month in the summer when Student Accounts does not issue any checks.)
6. Registers trip members, including people who can’t come to a meeting. Want to get lots of people on your trip/event? Organize volunteers and register to set up a table in the Campus Center or out by the main fountain (yes, there are De Anza forms for this, too, and the advisor has to sign them). Read: How to work an Outdoor Club information table .
We barely have enough people to do required Inter-Club Council work and manage our events, so we got rid of the email account.
7. Deposits funds received on a daily basis (no later than the next working day) to Student Accounts to the proper account, our own club trip deposits account, (not our D.A.S.B. club account) with a reference to name of person who paid, amount paid, form of payment (cash or check), and name of event. Resists all temptation to let anyone (even a club officer) pay later. It can be very confusing to let people fill out forms for a trip or membership before they pay. Insist on payment and all needed forms at the same time.
8.The club used to coordinate carpools, but we can’t anymore, because if an accident happened, De Anza might be held responsible. Now we must have everyone signed-up sign a form saying we didn’t in any way provide transportation for them. Usually we incorporate the wording into our trip sign-up forms so there’s one less form to remember to have people sign. But you can give phone numbers of people on the trip to someone going on the trip, (if you got people’s permission in writing on their signup form) and let everyone find their own rides, or form carpools after a pre-trip meeting. Faculty (staff) can’t drive anyone to, from or during a trip, except in a emergency involving the safety of participants but can pull the kayak trailer if Risk Management says their driving record is okay. (Yup, more forms/deadlines.)
On overnight trips drivers should bring extra door/trunk keys for riders, so riders can keep their stuff locked up but can still get to it when the driver is gone. De Anza expects each car will have a licensed, insured driver, be in good repair, and have enough seatbelts that work. Carpools / caravans should meet off campus- the parking lot you choose to meet at could have an event at it and you can’t find each other – and occasionally cars left on campus for the weekend have been vandalized!
9. For trips with meals provided, plans menu, computes cost, buys food, expects to do all the cleanup himself unless he pins down volunteers. Risk management does not allow us to prepare club-made meals, but we can serve orange juice and sweet rolls, or other commercially made food. Individual people on a trip can cook and
share or potluck what they want, the Outdoor Club itself can’t.
10. Double-checks concessionaire-provided equipment (helmets, lifejackets, single or tandem craft? etc.).
11. Anticipates what could shut down a trip and how to deal with it.
12. Arranges group equipment including safety. Examples: First aid kit, water purification, propane supply, lifejackets, Garcia bear-resistant backpacker’s food containers. If the trip leader is unable to make deposits for safety equipment, the official faculty representative for the trip usually brings the stuff (without being required to make a deposit).
13. Coordinates pickup, checkout and return of club group equipment. Cleans anything that needs it if he didn’t pin down volunteers or make sure it got done on the trip.
14. Coordinates non-club equipment and supplies (firewood, borrowed dining canopies, etc.). Big hint–divide the firewood supply among a few vehicles, or that one person with the truck and the only firewood supply won’t arrive. Works with the club equipment officer to get equipment rented to members. (learns how to fill out rental forms in advance of the rental day).
Details about using the DSU kayaks and trailer are at Kayaks (and trailer) use
CLUB EQUIPMENT RENTAL POLICY
The club owns lots of equipment, inventoried twice a year, including propane and gas stoves and lanterns in backpack and base camp sizes, tents (from one person to eight person, most winter-rated), dining canopies (10′ by 10′), insulated sleeping pads (plain, ridgerests, or Thermarests), backpacks, first aid kits, maps, fanny packs, gaiters, compasses, ice chests, inflatable kayaks, ocean kayaks, paddles, lifejackets, dry bags, a snow shovel, water purifying pumps, a couple of ice chests, camp chairs, Garcia bear-resistant backpacker’s food containers, griddles, etc. Club-owned equipment is to be used on club-sponsored events, first come, first served to members. It can’t be borrowed for members’ use on private trips.
Lanterns will be given to the renter with either an intact mantle or a new mantle to be installed and will be returned in the same condition or the $10 cleaning fee will be deducted. At least one propane tank, possibly only partially full, will be included, and the stove or lantern will be returned with a tank that is at least partially full, or the ten dollar fee will be deducted. Only one person checks out each item (even though many might sleep in a tent), and that person is responsible for it.
The faculty member attending a event or club officers usually take responsibility for group equipment like water purifying pumps for hikes, first aid kits, dining canopies, stoves and lanterns, but if they don’t, other people can. The faculty person doesn’t have to pay a deposit.
Sometimes we don’t have enough equipment for everybody who wants it on a large trip, so it’s first-come, first served for members actually signed up, not just intending to sign up.
When you rent from us you accept for use as is the possibly “used” equipment and accept full responsibility for the care of it, will be responsible for its replacement at full retail value, agree to reimburse and hold harmless the De Anza College Outdoor Club for any loss or damage of any kind, except normal wear and tear, and agree to return the equipment on the agreed date in clean, dry condition to avoid any additional charges beyond the cleaning and late fees you pay up front.
When you rent from us you sign a form that you acknowledge that: there will be no food (even snacks) or smoking in tents, all equipment for camping trips except tents and dining canopies will be locked in a car when they are not in the campsite (with the obvious exception of gear for a backpacking trip), the club does not promise that any equipment will work as intended (tents and dry bags may leak, for example). The renter is responsible for making sure all needed parts (tent poles, etc,) are there when the equipment is picked up. The renter is responsible for knowing how to properly use the equipment (how to pitch a tent or how to use a mantle on a lantern, for example). Large tents must be shared (for example, one person can not use a six person tent unless the extra space is not needed). On winter trips, or if there are sufficient supplies, one person can rent both a thermarest and an insulated sleeping pad.
Read all the details at: Outdoor Club Sample Rental Agreement
For pictures and a list of some of the equipment we rent click on this link: Outdoor Club Equipment
15. Runs pre-trip meeting(s) and/or orientation at the trip site including advising trip members on required equipment, campground regulations, trip safety, advisability of using sunscreen, bringing a flashlight on a day hike in case it runs late, drinking more water, etc.
Seriously considers having a mandatory pre-trip meeting for more adventurous trips like backpacking or winter camping. Yes, it is hard for people to all come to such a meeting, but it makes it more likely they will actually be prepared for the event and have all the needed equipment. The faculty member on the trip may require a pre- trip meeting, and could even require people bring gear they will be using for it to be looked at and approved (example: a fully loaded backpack for a long backpack trip, or tents for winter camping.) OR the meeting is a good time for people who aren’t sure what to bring to voluntarily have gear looked at. And the meeting is a convenient time to rent equipment to people instead of meeting different people at different times.
16. Works with other club officers or friends to enforce safety rules (examples: everyone must wear a life jacket for ocean kayaking, and everyone must wear a helmet on a bike trip). Even when peer pressure makes it hard to do, protects the Outdoor Club’s and De Anza College’s interests, including, but not limited to, telling people not to build such a big bonfire, not to smoke in the campsite, keep the noise down (or go away from the campground where you won’t bother the neighbors when you loudly discuss needed changes to the U.S. constitution) and skipping some fun time on the trip to clean up after people who are either just being slobs or–possibly leading to a fine the club has to pay–breaking bear area food storage rules.
17. Works with a faculty/staff representative to make sure we pay the right amount to concessionaires (example: 20 people sailed the first day, but only 16 did the second day because four were too sunburned, so we shouldn’t be paying for 20 people for two days). Gets a detailed receipt from concessionaires when needed.
Example: “35 people times $20 for a basket weaving lesson equals $700” is simple enough and doesn’t need a detailed receipt. But add meals at various prices and a multi-day trip in which different numbers of people were involved on different days and we can’t submit a receipt that just has a total dollar amount–we need
to break down the details.
18. After the trip, reviews the ‘books’ for the trip. Calculates costs and profits (if any). If we make a big profit (lots of people sign up, or some don’t attend,) suggests to the club Executive Board that we give club member attendees a credit towards a future event. (There are no refunds on club events unless we cancel.) Figures out any needed improvements for the next trip, and puts them in writing in a note to the next year’s trip leader.
19. Never leaves a trip early (except for medical problems), even if it’s boring, or raining the whole time, or all the people he knows have gone home early. This means the trip leader needs to ride with people who realize they will be the last car leaving, and preferably are good-natured enough to help clean up and pack up a campsite.
20. When all the post-trip work is done, reminds the club to put it in the minutes to vote them a trip leader’s credit towards a future event.
21. Pats self on back because sometimes no one else will.
recommended extra reading:
chapter 17, “Leadership,” from Mountaineering, the Freedom of the Hills.
About Risk Management
There are a lot of reasons to not have clubs at a college. You’ve seen in the news stories about spring break parties getting out of hand. A couple of incidents like that (even miles away from De Anza), is enough to get some of the powers that be at De Anza not wanting to take the risk of having clubs. They are, after all, not necessary for your education.
But most of the De Anza community knows that clubs are beneficial, not only because members are more likely to get better grades and more likely to graduate, but because it gives students leadership opportunities (and having fun counts, too).
So the various risks of having clubs are ‘managed’ by De Anza’s Risk Management office.
One way is to require that every club activity has a faculty or staff member present for all events. This is mostly done by a faculty member who is willing to commit extra time, and be a faculty advisor to the club.
The faculty advisor represents De Anza’s interests, and must be present at all business meetings, must sign all financial documents, and tries to give advice when members and officers are making decisions.
Another way risks are managed is that some things which are dangerous are forbidden. Some are obvious, like bungee jumping or hanggliding. Most students would agree those are things they should try on their own time, not when De Anza might have to pay money for their injuries. Others are ones that a lot of students disagree with, but have been shown (in some cases because of lawsuits at other schools), to be too big a risk for De Anza to take, such as scuba diving, extreme whitewater rafting, or biking the coast highway.
In the trip leader’s job description you read about the statement students (as well as staff, faculty) must sign to go on an event which says that they are completely responsible for their own transportation. The main form besides this is either the “student field trip/excursion agreement voluntary assumption of risk” for adult participants over 17- or – “student field trip/excursion agreement minor authorization release and notification.,” which parents/guardians of students 17 or younger must sign. (They must sign all forms, trip agreements, equipment rental agreements, etc. People under 18 can’t legally make contracts. Occasionally a parent must show up at the site (caving, for example) to sign concessionaire’s releases, the student won’t be trusted to bring the form home to be signed.)
Some people seem to think that releases really “aren’t worth the paper they are written on.” Don’t fall for this, and don’t tell the student not to worry about reading the release(s), trip agreements or rental forms. Give people plenty of time to read and understand the documents.
When you read one of the student field trip/excursion agreements, notice that you authorize the consent to any medical exam or treatment the faculty representative deems necessary for your safety and protection.
Forms such as these, and any wording required by Risk Management in our trip documents, also helps us do events that might otherwise not be allowed.
As this is being written, the Outdoor Club has a good reputation. We are the longest term customers of the surfing lesson and ocean kayak outfitters, and they welcome us back. The ocean kayak outfitter has blacklisted some of our students from renting from them again, but knows the offending behavior was not the club’s fault, and that we tried to stop it.
We also have a good reputation with De Anza’s Risk Management office. In 1998 the insurance company wanted to stop all ocean kayak trips because of trouble at a different school. Risk Management told the insurance carrier that if the trip is being led by Mary Donahue, (Outdoor Club Advisor, and author of the material you are reading), it will be safe, and not a liability problem that needs canceling.
Then Risk Management contacted the club to make sure that statement was correct, reviewed our plans, and we were set to go. No cancellation by the insurance company.
In 1998 we tried something new for our Russian River canoe trip. We had not been able in any previous year to get everyone to wear a life jacket all the way through the trip. The concessioner requires it, but does not enforce it. (This is in contrast to the kayak outfitter, who requires it, and enforces the rules, including driving down the coast to keep an eye on us.)
The club officers agreed that it would be a safer trip (and more pleasant- some officers had been on previous trips and seen people in trouble), and agreed that it would be better if everyone wore their life jackets. So when we signed people up, we not only put it in writing, we personally told each person that it was important, and we really wanted everyone to wear a life jacket, even excellent swimmers and experienced canoeists.
It worked. And a few people who may have not wanted to wear them (hurts their macho image?) might have been relieved they did, if for no other reason than it can be much easier to help someone else who ended up in the water if you have your jacket on and they have theirs.
One other thing of interest happened in 1998. A dad really didn’t want his daughter to go winter camping. He tried to convince her, but she was determined. So he called the director of Student Activities and complained about the trip’s safety. She got me on conference call and I defended the plans, answering every one of his concerns. This was a good thing, because what he was trying to do was get the whole trip canceled as being unsafe just to keep his daughter from going on the trip.
So the bottom line is, we are still able to do adventurous things because we have a good reputation with Risk Management, with the Rangers where we regularly camp, and the outfitters who rent to us or give us lessons. Our trips are well planned, with safety aspects thought out, so we are able to override the concerns of the
insurance company, and a particularly over-protective dad.
About Practical Jokes
Some people seem to make it easy to not like them. On a trip with heavy weather, when all chores take longer or even are quite difficult, people who won’t help can be annoying. Sometimes personality conflicts are magnified by close association on a trip.
If you become angry with someone on a trip, do not take retribution in the form of a prank.
For pranks that are meant to be fun, think them through to their ultimate end so they really will be fun.
Don’t impair the safety of anyone on the trip. People should not be sent the wrong way on a trail. Gear should not be left out in the rain. An empty steak package should not be left next to a tent to attract animals overnight and scare the occupants. Vehicles or equipment should not be disabled.
The following is excerpted from “If at All Possible, Involve a Cow. The Book of College Pranks.”
“Prank Rule # 2: Think things through.
Originally, I included in this book a list of students killed in college pranks, tweaking them for their stupidity. But I found the list, too deeply tinctured with malice for my taste.
The fatal pranks all shared a common thread. They were dumb. Whether climbing atop an elevator for a ride, setting off smoke bombs in the dead of the night, or doing push-ups in the middle of a busy intersection, they all contained some gaping flaw in conceptualization. A moment’s thought would have saved their lives.
The fact that the participants were too drunk to reflect on what they were doing is another matter. What is important for budding pranksters to keep in mind before doing a prank is the importance of examining it from all sides. Avoiding death is just the first concern. Another is to predict what the results of the prank will be. Will the car explode? Will the enraged president expel you from school? Will the priceless artifact be damaged?
These are the sort of questions you need to ask yourself, the most important being: Is this the sort of thing I am going to enjoy talking about over beers for the rest of my life?
This is why the common, Saran Wrap-on-the-toilet-seat sort of pranks usually fall flat. The “and then .. .” part of the prank just isn’t interesting. Beginning your story “I snuck into Biff’s room and placed Saran Wrap over his toilet seat,” sounds promising enough, but the “and then” invariably is, at best, “he was surprised and some pee got on the floor.” Not exactly Gravity’s Rainbow.”
Safe driving in rain and fog has info on, you guessed it, safe driving in rain, fog (and snow).
Prepare for winter driving has tips for using tire chains, tricks for dealing with frozen car locks, how to prepare your vehicle for winter driving, a winter survival kit for your car, what to do if you get stranded and how to keep windows from fogging up.
Have more fun camping has info on tent selection, how to build a campfire that doesn’t smoke and lots more.
Everyone needs to fill out and sign a release for each Outdoor Club off campus event you sign up for; you can print one in advance at release form .