Organize a Trip

CPA Trip Leader Skills Checklists

Planning Skills:

Trip Leaders must have knowledge of:

  • Launch, lunch, break, and bailout spots
  • Go/no go criteria for the route and the group
  • Hazards along the route.
  • Marine weather forecasts, tides and currents as related to the planned trip.

Trip leaders must have the ability to:

  • Accurately plot the course and estimate paddling time for a proposed trip.
  • Determine appropriate seasonal clothing for the trip (e.g. cold weather gear).
  • Determine sufficient number of trip assistants

Paddling Skills:

The Trip leader must be able to perform the skills in the worst conditions possible on the trip that would not cause the trip to be canceled by launch time. They must be able to perform them at such a level they would not be concerned with their own safety but could concentrate on the safety of others.

Trip Leaders must have the ability to perform and talk group members through:

  • Wet exits
  • Self and assisted rescues
  • Towing and rafted towing

For OPEN WATER, Trip Leaders must have the ability to:

  • Roll reliably in rough conditions
  • reentry and roll reliably in rough conditions
  • Perform an All-In rescue
  • Set up multi-person tows

Group Management Skills:

Trip Leaders must have the ability to:

  • Conduct a Pre-Launch Briefing
  • Enforce CPA standard trip requirements for participants and equipment.
  • Assess current and predicted weather and sea conditions during the trip and adjust trip accordingly.
  • Maintain control over the group during the trip
  • Identify sweep / lead paddlers and identify weak paddlers who may need assistance
  • Identify potential problems before they become serious.

Administrative Skills:

Trip Leaders must have the ability to:

  • Screen all participants for required skills and ability for the trip
  • File a float plan and obtain waivers from all participants
  • Collecting CPA waivers from each trip member for every trip or event and submitting them to the Club Secretary.  Failure to collect, save, and forward these waivers by trip leaders may invalidate their coverage under our liability policy.
  • Report any unusual incidents during the trip to the coordinator

Required Equipment:

The trip leader is responsible for making sure required equipment is carried on each trip.

Are you interested in leading a trip, but are unsure of your abilities? Contact the Steering Committee, they will help put you in contact with a trip leading mentor who will assist on your first trips you lead.    There are also often trip leader training events.  Check the Classes and Workshops Page and the CPA Meetup Calendar.

Do you have CPA trips to post on the calendar?  Join our Meetup and request Event Organizer permission.

Downloadable Forms for Trip Leaders

Lists and forms are available as Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Download the PDF Reader here:

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