Become a Seattle Branch Sea Kayak Leader

Become a Seattle Branch Sea Kayak Leader

How to become a Sea Kayak trip leader for the Seattle Branch.


Contact our Leadership Chair, Tom Unger, to begin the discussion about leading trips  for The Mountaineers and obtaining your Sea Kayaking Leader Badge.

How to Become a Leader

You become a Sea Kayak trip leader when the committee votes to approve you as a leader.  The question that each member will be asking themselves is:

Does this person have the judgement and the skills to appropriately manage risk for the trips they choose?

We want to approve people as leaders but also need to trust the leaders to choose trips within their ability and to create a physically and emotionally safe environment for trip participants.  This is one of the most important decisions committee members are called to make.  

You can help yourself become a leader by:

  • Strive to develop good judgement and create a safe experience for paddlers.
  • Participate in trips, courses, and volunteer opportunities with committee members so some of them know who you are.  
  • Work with two or more mentors for diverse input.

The Process

Develop the Skills

Develop the necessary skills.  This includes:

  • Good personal boat handling
  • Trip planning
    • Weather and tidal forecasts
    • Logistics of parking, launch sites, bathrooms, places for breaks
  • Navigation
  • Risk management
  • Incident management
  • Leadership skills such as
    • Clear communication about the trip
    • Select appropriate participants
    • Create a welcoming and safe environment
  • Mountaineer specific trip management and procedures, including use of the web site

Get Mountaineers Training

The mountaineers provides on-going training in leadership.  

Get Mentorship

Because every leader candidate is different, we largely train new leaders through mentorship.  If you lead trips in other mountaineer activities, particularly technical activities, the process may be fairly short.  If you are new to the Mountaineers the process will be longer.

  • Informal - You are developing skills in planning logistics, communication, risk-management, and Mountaineer procedures.  Ask to be assistant leader and take on more responsibility.  
  • Formal mentored trip - At this point, you have the skills and are able to handle most of the leadership tasks, with guidance from a mentor.  The mentor will write a trip report.
  • Assessment trip - At this point, you take responsibility for all leadership tasks.  The mentor is along as backup and write an assessment report.

At a minimum, you need one formal mentored trip and one assessment trip.


Name Informal Formal Assessment
Tom Unger X X X
Duncan Cox X X X
Alan Marshall X X X
Linda Cooley X X X
Joel Guay X X X
Barney Bernhard X X X
Paul A Mocha X X X
Pat Carney X X X
Rene Buendia X X

Become a Leader

When you feel  ready to become a sea kayak leader complete the process  with:

  • A minimum of one "official" mentored trip where the mentor writes a report (you may request as many  mentored trips as you like).
  • One "assessment" trip where the assessor writes a report.
  • A vote of approval by the committee. 

Mentoring Resources

Posting Mentored Trips

When the candidate is ready, ask the Leader Sub-chair to grant them temporary leader status so they can post trips. The How to Schedule & Manage page has guidance on posting mentored trips. We recommend mentee as "Primary leader" and mentor as "Co-Leader"