Regarding "Leader Permission Only"

Important notes for members and leaders about signing up for an activity where the leader requires participants and assistant leaders to obtain permission BEFORE registering.
Chris Williams Chris Williams
May 21, 2014

Background

Some of our trips and activities are posted on the website with a condition that people sign up only if they have obtained the leader's permission. If a leader has designated an activity as "Leader's Permission Only", you will see a check-box that looks like this: 


Copy of the language used to verify leader permission has been obtainedThis "Leader's Permission Only" restriction exists so that Leaders can verify each participant is truly qualified for a specific trip.

 

Different leaders lead at different paces, and conditions can differ dramatically at any specific location based on the time of year, weather, tides, etc. Leaders NEED TO KNOW they are not putting anyone at risk by allowing someone who does not have the appropriate experience, skill, or level of conditioning to go on the trip. Leaders therefore require a discussion to confirm the person will not put themselves or the rest of the group at risk by signing up for a trip that is beyond their abilities.

In some instances participants have checked this box without receiving the leader's approval, thus signing themselves up for a trip without permission. In those cases, leaders are rightfully removing those participants from the course roster. This has caused some tension and disappointment for both participants and leaders. Please observe the following points to eliminate any miscommunication.

For Participants

Understand that when you check the box saying you have obtained the leader's permission, the Leader, the other participants, and The Mountaineers are relying on the validity of your assertion. You are also taking up a spot on a roster. If you check the box erroneously, someone else who could have registered will be unable to do so and you are creating an additional step for our leader to remove you and add the other person. If you are signing up as an instructor or assistant leader on a trip "Leader's Permission" also applies to you as well unless the trip description explicitly states that assistant leaders can sign up without permission. 

The Leader has every right to cancel you from the roster if you do not follow instructions. It is your responsibility to contact them to ask for permission. This allows leaders to have the conversation that is necessary for ensuring everyone's safety on the trip. Please keep in mind all of our leaders are volunteers, giving their time willingly to help you and others get outside. Give them a little time to respond to you, and help your case by including all relevant information about your experience with the related activity in your request.

For Leaders

People make mistakes, and there will be times when you have to cancel someone from your roster. It is clear the person registering made the mistake in this situation, but the more you can reinforce why "Leader's Permission Only" is so important, the more we reinforce the culture of safety and proper preparation for any outdoor activity among our membership. Clearly explaining your requirement and the information you would like to receive from participants in your leader notes will help people understand and evaluate whether they are properly qualified to participate in your activity. This is a best practice with respect to leading outdoor activities. 

We've asked our participants to be considerate of your time, and please forgive them their eagerness to sign up while everyone adjusts to the new system. Someone will only need to be cancelled from an activity once to never make the same mistake again.

If you are concerned about participants signing up without permission we currently have an email alert system to let you know when someone signs up on your roster. Simply go to your trip and click edit and scroll down to the registration part of the Edit form.  

FOr everyone

Please feel free to share some of the best tips and practices for managing these potentially difficult situations. No one wants to say "no" to an enthusiastic participant and participants do not want to admit they may not be qualified for a certain activity. But it is important to respectfully work through these hard conversations so everyone remains safe. In fact, many of our Outdoor Leadership courses specifically emphasize this very point.

Please post the best examples for how to manage these issues for all to read so we continue to promote a culture of safety in The Mountaineers! Many of our Leaders have answered their approach to this question in a related blog here. 


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Ronald Jones
Ronald Jones says:
Wed, May 21, 2014 11:11 PM

Make it clear in the disclaimer that leader permission shall never be assumed, meaning just because the participant knows the leader, maybe even participated on previous trips, this does not substitute for direct permission for any given trip.

Make it possible for the participant to easily contact the leader at the permission check-box feature.

Do include the email notice to the leader upon sign ups.

Do include a feature that alerts the participant who has been cancelled due to not having gained leader permission. Be sure this alert provides a way to contact the leader by phone and email. I prefer phone in most cases.

r.

Chris Williams
Chris Williams says:
Tue, Dec 2, 2014 1:07 PM

Since launch, we've now added a link right on this part of the activity where participants can "request leader permission." This opens up a form that they fill out that sends an email to the Leader and streamlines the process for requesting permission. Making it easier to ask for permission, and grant it, should reduce the number of situations where participants are not matched with a trip that meets their expectations. Let us know if you have any problems with this functionality.