Organizing a trip is much easier than you think. Trip organizers are the heart of what makes an adventure club work. Without trip organizers, a club will degenerate into a group of people that simply talk about doing things but never actually do them, and nobody wants that. Believe it or not, you have more than enough experience to lead your own trip. This simple guide will tell you how. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to run a trip. These are guidelines, not rules. But this is how I’ve done it and it’s worked pretty well for me.
Step 1. Pick a destination.
It can be anywhere. As close as down the street or as far as across the globe. Both near and far trips have benefits. Local trips are very cheap and allow you to gain an appreciation for the wonders in your own area. Far off trips broaden people’s horizons and get them to do things that they never thought possible. Go online and search for state parks, hiking trails, biking trails, or rivers. Go to maps.google.com and scan around for green areas that indicate some kind of park or protected wilderness. Ask friends for destination ideas. You can even look at the club blog and copy a previous trip entirely. Just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done again.
You do NOT need to have visited the destination prior to leading a trip. You DO need to know how to get there, have done some basic research, and have some experience with the types of activities planned (i.e. you should not organize the first canoeing trip you’ve ever been on). Closer destinations can be single day trips which are super easy to organize. Farther destinations might require staying overnight which is more work but lots of fun.
Step 2. Create a facebook event
A common mistake people make is to just post a comment on the group like “we should go do this some time”. Unfortunately those very seldom become actual trips. Remember, we want to DO things, not TALK about doing things. When you create a facebook event, it sends members a notification, allows people to discuss plans, keeps track of all the details, and adds it to their calendar as a reminder.
In your event description, include the following information:
When is the trip? Don’t feel bad about scheduling a trip on top of another trip. The more trips, the better!
Where are you going?
What activities are you planning to do?
Specifically where is the group meeting (on site, or in town and carpooling there?)
How much money will it cost (including everything)?
If overnight, where are you sleeping (tent camping, couchsurfing, 5-star hotel, etc)?
What gear do people need to bring?
What previous experience level do people need?
Ideally you should include your phone number, but it isn’t required.
A pretty picture for the event banner is also really helpful.
Here is an example:
Step 3. Keep track of the event.
People will have questions. Answer them. Make sure everyone is on the same page as to what is going on. Keep track of who is attending.
Step 4. Show up.
You can meet at the destination if it’s close by, or somewhere convenient in town to organize carpools. The facebook ‘attending’ list is often not a very good indicator of actual attendance. There are always last minute drop-outs and add-ons. Be patient with these and tyr to just go with the flow. Wait for people that you absolutely know are supposed to show and wait 15 minutes after the set time. After that you can head out and not feel bad about leaving behind late-comers.
Step 5. Do the trip.
At this point all the work is done, so enjoy the trip. While you are technically the leader of the trip, there usually isn’t any need for an authority figure. Just keep in mind what your plan was, try to be flexible, and have fun.
Food: Generally it’s easiest if everyone brings their own food on trips. We also often find a unique restaurant in the area and eat out. Sometimes we organize group meals though, it’s your choice.
Gear: If a trip requires specific gear, it must be provided by the people on the trip. Our adventure club does not own any gear. You can also post on the club wall to ask to borrow things from people.
Costs: Generally, nobody makes money on trips. We simply take all of the group expenses (notably gas, entrance fees, and lodging) and split them evenly. Generally speaking, people don’t want to spend lots of money, so do what you can to make things affordable. Make sure everyone brings cash so they can contribute their share. Encourage people to pay gas money to drivers, even if the drivers say they don’t want it.
Experience: There are plenty of trips (especially single-day hiking trips) that don’t require any experience at all. If that’s what you’re comfortable, then stick with that. Attend more advanced trips led by other people and eventually you will have the experience to lead similar trips. And please share what experience you do have with other people on your trips so that they can then lead similar trips.
As long as you keep things simple and within your experience, this really is quite easy. The terminology ‘trip leader’ or ‘trip organizer’ makes it sound like more work than it is. The leader is really just motivating people to go out on a trip. People want to do things, but if nobody posts an event then nothing ends up happening. One final tip: be observant when attending other people’s trips. Look at how they pack, how they tie a canoe onto the car, etc. Ask them questions like what websites they use for research and how they arrange things like camping.
Now go post an event!