Leader Resources: Trip Talk Card

Trailhead talks: Getting to know your group
Trailhead talks: Getting to know your group

Backyard games, climbing, hiking, paddling, picnics, sidewalk strolls, trail running . . . If we make a list of the ways we enjoy the outdoors during the long days of summer, it’d be nearly endless!

This is a very busy time of year for AMC’s volunteer leaders. Leaders plan & conduct a variety of activities throughout our region, from the Washington, DC area to Maine. For each of these activities, folks come together and form, for a time, a community that begins with the first group meeting at the trailhead, put-in, parking lot, or other meeting location.

Within the AMC, we have a great tool, known as the Trip Talk Card to help folks with that first meeting. This resource provides leaders with a series of key bullet points, designed to guide them through the process of sharing important group management & risk-related considerations with their group(s).

Now is a great time to review this information. With that in mind, we’ve highlighted some key components below:

  • Introductions

Introductions can make a huge difference in making an individual feel welcome in any group. This doesn’t have to take long. You can gather your group & simply ask folks to share their names. As a Leader, you may want to share a bit more: Experience with the activity, any wilderness first aid knowledge, including if you’re carrying a first aid kit & its location.

Remember: This form includes a lot of generalized information about the risks inherent in outdoor activities. During your welcome, you’ll also want to share any risks specific to the Activity, including weather considerations and potential hazards (ticks is an important one!). And don’t forget to have everyone complete this form legibly!

  • Personal Responsibility

Remind folks that one of their roles, in participating in a group activity, is self-care. By speaking up about their needs & attending to them, individuals can also help ensure the well-being of the group.

Provide a few minutes & an appropriate space for participants to share any concerns and/or relevant medical issues with you. This may include a recent injury that could impact the trip/group, the location of an inhaler or Epi-pen, or more general concern(s) for someone new to the group and/or Activity.

  • Ground Rules

Make sure everyone understands the plan for the activity and expectations that govern the group’s behavior. Consider the words you use when talking with the group: Is what you’re saying accessible to the entire group? (For example, if you are talking about the use of DEET for tick protection, does everyone know what you’re talking about?)

The Trip Talk Card has lots of other great tips to ensure you & your group are all on the same page. Spend a few minutes practicing the welcome you want to share with folks as they head outdoors with you this summer!

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Kristi Hobson Edmonston

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.