How to Get Involved as a Trip Leader

Leading trips is a great way to share your love of an activity with others in a safe and fun environment. Learn how easy it is to get involved.
Michelle Song Michelle Song
Volunteer Development Manager
February 28, 2023
How to Get Involved as a Trip Leader
Snowshoe trip leader training at Cowlitz Gap. Photo by David Bradley.

 At The Mountaineers, leadership plays an integral part in every facet of our organization. We have a wide variety of leaders in many different roles - from Branch Treasurer, to Qualified Youth Leader, to Committee Chair. The term "leader" also specifically refers to a volunteer who has been vetted by an activity committee to lead a Mountaineers activity. These trips leaders have fulfilled the technical and interpersonal skill requirements included in our Club-wide Activity Standards. By leading hundreds of trips each month, trip leaders play a fundamental role within our organization. 

Many of our volunteer trip leaders decide to get involved as a leader after participating in one of our activities. In her Leader Spotlight, Nataliya Semez, a Key Leader, Key Instructor, Super Volunteer, and Trail Running Leader with the Foothills Branch, shares her inspiration for leading trips with The Mountaineers: “I was really inspired by brilliant leaders who I met when I first joined The Mountaineers. They created an inclusive environment where I felt welcomed to learn and participate, offering support and knowledge every step of the way.”

Among their many attributes, volunteer trip leaders prioritize the emotional safety of their group, support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in our programs, and fosters a culture of belonging on their trips. They are also responsible for the logistical aspects of the trip, such as determining the trip location and ensuring their participants have the necessary skills and experience to safely enjoy the trip. Leading trips is a great way to share your love of an activity by creating opportunities for others to experience it in a safe and fun environment.

Leader applications

Each activity has its own process for vetting new leaders. Many Mountaineers activities have a leader application for prospective leaders. Some committees may have a leader application link shared on their committee page. Leader applications typically request prior activity experience, such as an “activity resume,” and if the applicant holds the necessary certifications—which are in many cases Wilderness First Aid and Navigation training—then the applications are forwarded to the activity committee leadership who will review and then contact the applicant to help begin the process of familiarizing them with guidelines, policies, and activity standards. If you are ready to apply to be a trip leader, submit a leader application for your activity of interest.

Contact a committee chair

To become a trip leader you will need to have prior experience in the activity and have the ability to demonstrate the technical and leadership skills set by the activity’s org-wide standards. Since all of our activities are run by committees, each activity committee has their own vetting process. To learn more about an activity committee’s needs and their specific skill requirements, start by visiting their committee page. Since committee pages are organized by branches, determine which branch activity committee you want to affiliate with as a volunteer. The activity committee chair can be a great first point of contact. If for some reason the chair is not listed on the committee page, use this Committee Chair Directory to search for the chair of a specific committee. The leader requirements can often be found on committee pages. Utilize these requirements to frame your email. Consider sharing how your experience and interest match up with the leader requirements.

Leader badges

We have an extensive badge system that helps our members track their skills and exemplify what they’ve accomplished. Leader badges designate a Mountaineer as an activity leader and display their aptitude for the activity. A way to familiarize yourself with trip leader requirements is to browse the specific leader badge page. Each leader badge page includes descriptions of required skills, what the badge allows the leader to do, and how to obtain the badge. Check out our listing of different types of leader badges offered at The Mountaineers.


Taking one of our courses is one of the necessary requirements to volunteer as a trip leader. We recognize that many folks come to The Mountaineers with prior skills and experience, and we want to help you get involved at the right level.  You can earn many of our course badges by either completing a course or successfully demonstrating the same skills through a process called equivalency. If you have reviewed the skills outlined in a course badge, and feel like you have the prerequisite set of skills, please fill out the equivalency application if available, or contact Member Services with an overview of your experience and we will help you navigate the process for obtaining equivalency. Learn more about each of our courses on our Course Overview page.

Leadership development

As a leader, your leadership style may evolve and transform as your experience diversifies with more trips and participants. This is a good thing! The Mountaineers hopes to support the advancement of our leaders' skills and inspire the continued growth of our programs by providing various opportunities for leadership development. Our recommendation for current and aspiring trip leaders is to start with the Foundations of Leadership Course, and the Foundations of Instruction Course as well as the Emotional Safety in the Outdoors Course.

Check out other leadership development resources available to our leaders:

Going Above and Beyond

Leading trips goes beyond just exercising and refining outdoors skills. Trip leaders have found fulfillment in giving back and mentoring aspiring volunteers. Their leadership styles evolve and grow to support their participants. Lifetime friendships and go-to activity partnerships have been established from Mountaineers trips. If you are excited to continue learning about what it means to be a Mountaineers leader, check out our blog post on what it means to be a Mountaineers leader.

Our leaders are at the core of each and every Mountaineers activity. They go above and beyond to fulfill every aspect of our mission through the activities they lead. The experiences they provide are what make us The Mountaineers.

Looking for other ways to get involved?

We have volunteer opportunities for you! Check out our recently updated Volunteer With Us page to discover the many volunteer opportunities available. Whether your interests are in teaching, leading trips, helping at events, supporting stewardship efforts, or serving on a committee, we have opportunities for you to pitch in and make a difference.

If you have any questions, reach out to Member Services at with your specific volunteer interests and they’ll be happy to get you connected.


Adding new volunteer energy helps us stay fresh, ensures that our volunteers are representative of our broader membership, and helps reduce burnout. Volunteer leaders are invited to review our Volunteer Recruitment Made Easy blog to help bolster our community of dedicated leaders.