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Trip Organizing 101

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What follows is an instruction sheet for VPC trip organizers. We are indebted to the VPC volunteers willing to take on the responsibility of organizing trips for the enjoyment of the rest of the club, and we hope the following recommendations will help you prepare for your upcoming trip(s).


We encourage all club members to submit trips they are willing to lead. Unfortunately, some trips may overlap with existing club plans. We have developed the following criteria that will be used to determine what trips will be added to the VPC calendar in order that we are able to promote club events without too many conflicts.

  1. A schedule will be put together for the Spring and Summer/Fall seasons.
  2. Trips submitted by members prior to that schedule being assembled will go into the list of trips to be considered.Trips that are submitted after the schedule is put together will be added to it if they meet the following conditions:
    • The leader is a VPC member.
    • The leader is capable of safely leading the trip proposed.
    • There are no overlapping VPC clinics scheduled that rely heavily on volunteer VPC member support.
    • One (or more) of the following conditions is met:
      • No other trip is scheduled for the date proposed.
      • The difficulty of water is different by 1.5 classes or more from any already scheduled for that date.
      • The number of days involved with the proposed trip is different from an overlapping scheduled trip by 1.5 days or more.
      • The proposed trip or the one it is in conflict with is not in New England, New York, Quebec or Ontario
  3. Any trips not meeting this criteria must be approved by the Board of Directors before being added to the schedule.


Each trip leader will be given the choice to insure the trip through the ACA if they so desire and s/he is a current ACA member in good standing. The choice will not affect if the trip is added to the event calendar or not. If you choose the insurance/ACA sanctioning, it means that the trip will have liability coverage provided by the ACA. This gives a level of protection against lawsuits to the trip organizer and to the club - both in terms of helping with the legal defense, and in financial protection against an adverse judgment. You will be required to get a signed waiver from anyone who has not already provided such this year, and you will need to collect a fee from anyone who is not a current ACA member. If you decline insurance/ACA sanctioning, the responsibility of the trip organizer is unchanged, but there is no ACA-provided insurance for the trip organizer(s) or for the Vermont Paddlers Club. There is also no requirement to collect fees from the participants. The organizer can choose to (or choose not to) require signed waivers, to add a layer of legal protection against lawsuits. However, the club recommends that waivers be used. Participants can make waivers easier if they download and print a waiver form from the ACA website, and bring a signed copy with them to the put-in.


Trip organizers are the most visible ambassadors for the VPC, and first impressions ARE important. We suggest you start by asking each would-be participant: "Have you ever paddled on any other VPC trips?" If the answer is yes, the caller is apt to be prepared for the follow-up questions below. If the answer is no, try to remember back to the first time you called to inquire about a scheduled VPC trip, and be as patient/diplomatic as necessary. Go ahead and "qualify" the caller for the trip you are organizing, that is, be certain to the best of your ability that s/he understands the rigors you anticipate on the trip, and that his/her skills and equipment are commensurate. If not, suggest other/easier scheduled VPC trips as an alternative. Write down a return phone number, in case your trip plans change unexpectedly. Mention that helmets are required for class II and above trips.

The following pertains to those trips electing to be insured/ACA sanctioned.

Explain there is a $5 per person "event fee", imposed by the ACA, which can be waived under certain circumstances. Ask:

  1. Are you an ACA member, current with your dues?
  2. Are you a VPC member, current with your dues?

Make a note of the answers to these 2 questions for each caller, as they will determine your responsibilities as trip organizer at the put-in. Remind all ACA members to bring their ACA member card on the day of the trip (or get their ACA number over the phone). Encourage/invite VPC/ACA non-members to give some thought to joining the club (as opposed to simply paying the $5 one-day-event fee). Sometimes your personal appeal will be sufficient to bring a new active paddler into the VPC fold!


Anyone who has not completed the full-page VPC/ACA waiver in the current year will need to do so. Participants under 18 years of age need a parent/guardian to sign this waiver on their behalf - using the special waiver form for minors - so plan ahead if any minors call about your trip. A new full-page waiver must be signed by each participant on their first trip or ACA event of each new year. Carry extra copies of all 4 forms in your paddling gear bag or glove compartment (see links below). Each participant will fall into one of the following 4 categories:


The participant states...

ACA member?





"I belong to the VPC AND the ACA"...
No charge if ACA card is shown.+

"I belong to the VPC only"...
Option 1: Pay $5 event fee to "ACA".
Option 2: Join ACA at the $30 (individual) or $40 (family) level.*


"I belong to the ACA only"...
No charge as long as you get their ACA number, but invite these folks to join VPC at the $15 (individual) or $20 (family) level).+

"I don't belong to either the VPC or the ACA"...
These folks can either pay the $5 event fee (make checks payable to "ACA") OR they can join BOTH VPC/ACA at the $40 (individual) or $52 (family) level.*

* Explain that we will forward ACA applications once enrolled into the VPC, and that it can take over a month to receive member cards from the ACA. Mention that ACA Paddle America Club members pay a little less for their ACA annual membership than the customary $30/$45, and review key ACA member benefits (listed on the enrollment form).

+ On occasion, participants may tell you they have recently enrolled in ACA but have not yet received their card. Take their word, and write them down as "PENDING". EVERYONE, including trip organizers, must sign (or have signed) a full-page waiver at their first insured/ACA sanctioned VPC event each calendar year.


  1. Send all the enrollment forms, signed waivers, and checks to: Hugh Pritchard, VPC Treasurer, 37 Terrace Street, Montpelier, VT 05602. If you collected cash, do not send it -- write a check to VPC instead. Please print and use the Cantankerous Treasurer's Worksheet (
  2. Make a participant list for your own records, and consider writing a trip report for the Bow and Stern. Trip reports help club members get to know one another better, and find boaters with similar paddling interests. In your trip report make special note of any safety issues which came up, and how you handled them. Send trip reports by email to Tony Shaw ( or submit a trip report online. (
  3. Restock 1) VPC membership applications 2) ACA membership applications 3) adult waivers and 4) minor waivers. We have all 4 of these documents online (see below). If you are having printer problems and need copies by mail, call 802-879-1655.

Your feedback, as always, is welcome.

PS: for class IV trips and above, the ACA has set a higher standard of accountability for trip organizers. Paramount in this standard is careful screening of would-be participants to be certain that no under-qualified boaters are permitted to join your trip. You should be aware of evacuation routes, hospital locations, and the location of the nearest phone if it becomes necessary to call for assistance. You should be prepared to dis-invite boaters who show up unannounced or who lack the requisite experience and/or equipment to join your party. A three-boat minimum is essential. For extremely difficult rivers/trips, the ACA may need a written float/safety plan before they will sanction them.

VPC signup form
VPC signup form

ACA signup form
ACA signup form

Adult waiver
Adult waiver

Minor waiver
Minor waiver

Please log in.
For Username, enter either 1) the primary email address you've specified in your member profile, or 2) the Username assigned to you upon joining the VPC.

Once you are logged in as a VPC member, you will have access to your member profile, and members-only content on the website. If your login attempts fail, please email the webmaster. Include your name, and (if you know it) the username you were assigned.

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