ICO Rafting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)

Sierra Club Inner City Outings

San Francisco Bay Area Rafting Chapter

Standard Operating Procedures

Version 1.0 Vote Initiated May 24, 2010
Version 1.0 Approved June 2, 2010
Version 1.1 Revised September 17, 2010
Version 1.2 Revised February 16, 2011
Version 1.3 Revised May 17, 2011

On February 8th, 2015 the Steering Committee voted to disband itself and its functions. 

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Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Volunteer and Trip Leader Requirements

3. Organizational Structure

4. Job Descriptions

5. Finance

6. Conduct

7. Equipment Usage Policy

8. Vehicle Usage Policy

9. Trips

10. Training Program

11. Volunteer Progression

1. Introduction
1.1 Program Name
The name of the organization applicable to this document is Sierra Club Inner City Outings (ICO) - San Francisco Bay Rafting Chapter.

1.2 Program Goals

The Sierra Club's San Francisco Bay Area Inner City Outings Rafting Program introduces urban youths and adults who may not otherwise have the access or opportunity, to the beauty and challenges of our wild rivers and lands, and strives to inspire them, through education, active engagement, and river guide training, to enjoy and treasure our natural environment.

Established goals for the program include aiding our participants in:

  • Becoming comfortable with and appreciating the natural environment
  • Developing a basic understanding of the principles by which ecosystems function.
  • Foster respect of self and others
  • Developing leadership skills
  • Experiencing team approaches to challenges and problem solving.

1.3 Standard Operating Procedures

Inner City Outings - San Francisco Bay Rafting shall operate according to the policies and procedures prescribed by the Sierra Club, the ICO National Steering Committee, and these Standard Operating Procedures.

These Standard Operating Procedures or "by-laws" outline the roles and procedures in facilitating the administration of Inner City Outings - San Francisco Bay Rafting. All information contained in this document pertains only to the San Francisco Bay Rafting chapter of ICO. For the purposes of this document, all subsequent references to ICO are in reference to the San Francisco Bay Rafting chapter of Sierra Club Inner City Outings.

These Standard Operating Procedures constitute the primary and overriding statement of ICO policies, and supersede all prior or overlapping documents, policies, or understandings with respect to its subject matter.

2. Volunteer and Trip Leader Requirements

2.1 Types of ICO Trip Leaders and Volunteers

The following list defines each type of ICO volunteer with a brief description:

  • Trip Leader (TL): is a Sierra Club certified leader who is responsible for planning, communicating, and executing ICO outings in a safe manner that is consistent with the rules outlined in this document as well as those set forth by the Sierra Club.
  • Assistant Trip Leader (ATL): can be either a Guide or Apprentice Guide who is understudy to the Trip Leader.
  • Guide (G): has undergone basic guide training and has been certified to manage a participant paddle boat on his/her own without supervision
  • Apprentice Guide (A): has undergone basic guide training, but has not yet been certified to manage a participant boat on his/her own.
  • Already Trained Apprentice (ATA): has received guide training from an organization other than ICO. ATAs are given apprentice status when joining ICO and will remain an apprentice until the ICO guide requirements are satisfied
  • Trainee: a person who has provisionally been accepted into the ICO basic training class, who has not yet completed basic training and therefore has not achieved Apprentice Guide status. Only after satisfactorily completing the basic training is a Trainee considered an Apprentice.
  • Off-River Volunteer: assists the organization in some capacity other than guide/apprentice duties. An off-river volunteer is a member of ICO, however without guide/apprentice status, is not required to comply with the matrix requirements of section 2.2.

2.1.a Any Sierra Club documentation in reference to an "assistant leader" or "additional leader" is defined by SF Bay Rafting as follows:
  • A person currently certified by SF Bay Rafting to manage a participant boat on his/her own without supervision, defined as a Guide (G) in section 2.1. These persons may be Guides and/or additional Trip Leaders volunteering in the capacity of Guides during a scheduled rafting outing.
  • Trainees, Apprentice Guides (A), and Already Trained Apprentices (ATA), do not qualify as assistant leaders as defined by the Sierra Club in: 
    • http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2foutings%2fpolicy%2fwatercraft%2findex.asp
    • http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2foutings%2fpolicy%2fwatercraft%2fwhitewater.asp

These definitions are discreet from the ICO SF Bay Rafting definition of Assistant Trip Leader (ATL) as described in section 2.1. An ATL has not yet achieved the status of "additional leader" or "assistant leader" as defined by the Sierra Club.

2.2 Volunteer Compliance Requirements:

All ICO volunteers must comply with the National ICO requirements for volunteers or Certified Leaders as applicable and as outlined in Section II of the ICO OLT Materials.

2.2.1 Compliance for all ICO Volunteers

All ICO volunteers must fulfill the requirements of Section II.D of the ICO OLT materials, and the following additional local requirements.
  • Maintain current Standard First Aid or higher certification.
  • Maintain current CPR certification.
  • Maintain current Sierra Club Membership.
  • Pass criminal background check every four years.
  • If driving on ICO trips, pass a DMV records check every four years.

2.2.2 Compliance for all ICO TripLeader

All ICO Trip Leaders must fulfill the requirements of all of Section II of the ICO OLT materials, the requirements for Level 2 Outings, the requirements for Watercraft Outings, and the following additional local requirements:
  • Have successfully completed Wilderness First Aid or higher certification. The WFA certification needn't be current. However a minimum current Standard First Aid certification is still required.
  • Have current CPR certification.
  • Have been an assistant trip leader on three ICO rafting trips.
  • Be an ICO certified Guide.
  • Be a competent Class III rower.
  • Have successfully completed Swiftwater Rescue Training. The SWR certification needn't be current.
  • Submitted a Trip Leader application and received approval from the Steering Committee.

Section 2.2.3 Certification Currency

First Aid and CPR certification expiration dates are determined by the certifying authority.

Section 2.2.4 Online Certifications

Online First Aid and CPR certifications are not accepted.

2.3 Guest Volunteer Policy

2.3.a On-river Guest Volunteers are not members of ICO, and therefore do not satisfy the definitions and guidelines described in sections 2.1 and 2.2. They are considered as already trained apprentices with guest status and must satisfy the requirements of section 2.3.a.i below before being permitted to volunteer during a scheduled ICO river outing.

2.3.a.i All guest volunteers on ICO trips must be recommended by an ICO Trip Leader and must satisfy the following:
  • Have signed the Code of Ethics form and submitted to the Compliance Coordinator.
  • Have signed the Release of Liability forms and submitted the completed form to the Trip Leader. 
  • Complete all requirements for the 'apprentice' status as outlined in 2.2, with the exception of being a member of the Sierra Club.
  • The Guest must have a clear understanding of what it means to be a role model to the youth and what appropriate conduct is with children. Verification of this understanding is completed by the Trip Leader through interview.

2.3.a.ii A person can only attend ICO trips as a Guest volunteer one time, and shall be required to apply for full volunteer status before being allowed on any additional outings as a Guest Volunteer. Application for full volunteer status may be completed through the Already Trained Apprentice classification. The intention for this one time guest limitation is to encourage qualified guides to become active, contributing members of ICO.

2.3.a.iii The above describe guest volunteer (guest apprentice guide) requirements are waived for Agency personnel or parents/guardians of participants.

2.3.b Guest Paddler Policy

2.3.b.i Guests who are not members of participant groups (Agencies) may be invited to function as guest paddlers during an ICO river outing, provided that the Trip Leader and Agency Leader approve of the presence of guest paddlers during the outing. Guest Paddlers are not ICO volunteers as defined in section 2.1 and 2.2., however for the trips with youth participants Guest Paddlers are not permitted on a scheduled ICO river outing unless the Trip Leader verifies that the guest has a clear understanding of what it means to be a role model to the youth and what appropriate conduct is with children.

2.4 "Active" Volunteer Status
To maintain "active" volunteer status within ICO, a volunteer must adhere to the following requirements:
  • Compliant with volunteer requirements as outlined in section 2.2. AND
  • Have attended at least one (1) trip in the last two years; OR 
  • Served as a member or chairperson of an off-river committee in the last two years.

2.5 "Active" Trip Leader Status
To maintain "active" Trip Leader status within ICO, a Trip Leader must adhere to the following requirements:
  • Compliant with all Trip Leader requirements as outlined in section 2.2
  • Have led at least one (1) training or participant trip in the last two years; OR 
  • Served as a member or chairperson of an off-river committee in the past two years.

2.5.a Note that an active trip leader is not required to serve as chairperson of an off-river committee to maintain active Trip Leader status. This caveat is intended to recognize that the duties involved with leading an off-river committee may require additional time commitments of the Trip Leader.

2.6 Reinstatement Policy for Volunteers and Leaders
An 'inactive' ICO volunteer or Trip Leader may request reinstatement for the current season at any time by attending a meeting or notifying the chairs in writing (email is an acceptable and preferred form of written notification). In order to be reinstated, the volunteer must meet the following requirements at the time of reinstatement:
  • Be compliant with volunteer requirements as outlined in section 2.2; AND
  • Agree to verification of river skill competence with a qualified instructor or Trip Leader.
  • Commit to volunteer on or lead at least one (1) participant trip during the current season; OR 
  • Commit to serve in an off-river committee as a member or chairperson.
Reinstatement is considered automatic provided the above requirements have been met AND the necessary paperwork demonstrating compliance with section 2.2 has been received by the ICO Compliance Coordinator.

2.7 "Inactive" Volunteers
Inactive or 'alumni' volunteers are individuals who have participated in ICO training or participant trips in the past, but have not made recent contributions to the organization. It is the policy of ICO to welcome these individuals back to the organization provided they meet the requirements outlined in section 2.6.

Inactive volunteers are permitted to:
  • Participate in the ICO e-mail list
  • Attend ICO river meetings 
  • Apply for reinstatement at any time. 
  • Attend ICO trips as a 'Guest'.

Inactive volunteers may not:
  • Participate in ICO subsidized training opportunities.
  • Vote on organizational or policy changes. 
  • Volunteer on ICO trips prior to reinstatement per section 2.6.

Section 2.8 Guide Certification Process
A prospective guide submits a completed "Guide Application" to the Certification Coordinator. An incomplete application may be submitted and the applicant may attach a statement of explanation to the application.

The Certification Coordinator completes the Additional Certification Requirements section of the application to verify that the applicant is current in all required certifications. The Certification Coordinator immediately submits the application to the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee discusses the application at its next meeting and votes to approve or disapprove the application. Credit may be given for previous experience, training or outstanding performance following training as determined by the Steering Committee, after proper evaluation. If the Steering Committee does not approve the application, the reasons must be communicated to the applicant in a timely manner.

Section 2.9 Trip Leader Certification Process
A prospective trip leader submits a completed "Trip Leader Application" to the Certification Coordinator. An incomplete application may be submitted and the applicant may attach a statement of explanation to the application.

The Certification Coordinator completes the Additional Certification Requirements section of the application to verify that the applicant is current in all required certifications. The Certification Coordinator immediately submits the application to the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee discusses the application at its next meeting and votes to approve or disapprove the application. Credit may be given for previous experience, training or outstanding performance following training as determined by the Steering Committee, after proper evaluation. If the Steering Committee does not approve the application, the reasons must be communicated to the applicant in a timely manner.

3. Organizational Structure

While ICO is primarily focused on providing outdoor and on-river experiences to participant groups, a number of administrative duties must be performed in order for the organization to function. This section provides an overview of required administrative positions and sets forth policies for conducting ICO business.

3.1 Types of ICO Roles

3.1.1 ICO Chairs

The ICO chair is responsible for the overall well being of the organization and for ensuring that the organization meets all National ICO requirements as set forth by the Sierra Club. The organization shall have two (2) co-chairs in place at all times, and the chairs will be elected by a majority vote amongst active ICO volunteers.

Chair terms are not to exceed the length of 2 years and shall begin on alternating years so as to provide opportunity for continuity while a new chair is learning his/her new role.  Consecutive terms are not required, however an ICO volunteer may serve a consecutive term as an ICO chair, provided that a vote conducted by the active volunteer members approves an additional term.

3.1.2 Administrative Positions

Administrative positions are off-river positions that are required for the organization to function, and are generally held by an individual. The responsibilities associated with these roles shall be defined in detail and must be carried out as recorded in section 4.

3.1.3 Functional Committees

Functional committees are working groups of ICO volunteers dedicated to a particular focus area (example: Fundraising or Training). They are chaired by an individual volunteer (or co-chaired as needed). The committee chair(s) may also serve as an opt-in member of the Steering Committee. The specifics of how a given committee functions will be left to its members.

3.1.3.a Non-committee members interested in the subject matter of a committee meeting may request to attend a committee meeting by contacting the committee chair.

3.4 ICO Steering Committee

The ICO Steering Committee shall be the official governing body of the organization. This is necessary to maintain a well defined and democratic system for enacting policy changes (or implementing new policies) in a fair and consistent manner. Steering committee members shall take into consideration the opinions of all active ICO volunteers with regards to policy decisions.

The Steering Committee shall be responsible for the following:
  • Voting upon, and enacting changes to ICO policies and procedures contained within this document.
  • Review and approve all Guide and TL applications.
  • Setting annual goals for the organization.

3.4.1 Steering Committee Membership

The Chairs shall be automatic members of the Steering Committee.
The following volunteers shall be eligible to opt-in to the Steering Committee.
  • Active Trip Leaders
  • Administrative Coordinators
  • Functional Committee Chairs

3.4.1.a Procedures & Requirements for Opt-In members of the Steering Committee.
To join the Steering Committee, opt-in members must declare their intention to the Chairs and then undergo a two-week waiting period before their membership becomes effective.

Opt-in members must meet the following meeting attendance requirements:
  • attend at least three River meetings (general monthly meetings and the Winter Retreat) in a twelve-month period, or at least half of the meetings in a twelve-month period, whichever is less.
  • attend at least three Steering Committee meetings in a twelve-month period, or at least half of the meetings in a twelve-month period, whichever is less.

Steering Committee members are highly encouraged to attend meetings in person. Attendance by telephone, video-conference or other two-way technical medium is acceptable at the discretion of the Chairs.

Opt-in members who do not meet the attendance requirements automatically forfeit their membership to the Steering Committee. They may chose to rejoin the Steering Committee after the waiting period described above.

3.4.1.b A list of all currently active Steering Committee members will be made available for reference on the ICO internal website.

3.5 Policy Changes and Voting

As outlined in section 1.3, these procedures outline the rules and conduct for all members of ICO SF Bay Rafting. These procedures are subject to change exclusively through formal vote conducted by the Steering Committee. The following outlines the process for amending these approved rules.

3.5.1 Any proposal to change a policy outlined in these procedures must be included in the monthly meeting agenda and formally discussed at a monthly meeting (reference section 3.6 for meeting and meeting agenda policies).  The purpose for discussing the proposal is to allow the ICO members the opportunity to discuss the validity and necessity for the proposed change. If it is agreed that the proposed change is feasible and warrants vetting to the steering committee, the proposed change must be formally voted upon by the steering committee.

3.5.2 The process for a steering committee vote is as follows:
  • The proposed change must be written in clear language to explains what the proposed change is.
  • The co-chairs are responsible for ensuring that at least 2/3 of the steering committee vote on the change in order for the vote to be valid.
    • A quorum of steering committee members is defined as at least 2/3 of the total steering committee members. If a quorum of steering committee members is present at the monthly meeting when the proposed change is vetted, then it is acceptable for the vote to be conducted at the meeting. Otherwise, the steering committee quorum vote must be collected by the chairs within two weeks from the date the change was proposed. The votes may be collected via email or phone communication, provided that all voting members have an opportunity to understand the proposed change.
  • Votes will be cast as either a yes or no vote.
  • A simple majority (50% + 1) of the votes collected must be "yes" in order for the change to be ratified.
  • The results of all steering committee member votes will be published by the chairs and communicated to all of ICO rafting.

3.5.3 Process for ratifying a vote.

Following a steering committee vote, it is the responsibility of the chairs to verify that the voted policy change complies with Sierra Club and National ICO policies. If the change does not comply with these polices, then the vote is effectively nullified. The chair will communicate the nullity of the change to the Steering Committee. Provided that the voted policy change satisfies all SC and National ICO policies, the chairs will amend these Standard Operating Procedures to include the change. Following the implementation of the change, all ICO members must comply with the ratified policy amended to this document.

3.5.4 Non-Policy Voting Process

There is potential that practices outside the scope of this document may require change. In such instances, the steering committee is not required to implement such a change. The process for implementing a non-policy change is as follows:
  • The issue is presented to the chairs prior to a formal meeting. The co-chairs determine if the issue is a policy issue that requires steering committee vote, or is a process issue to be discussed at a meeting. The intent to discuss and vote upon the issue is included in the meeting agenda notification.
  • The issue is presented and discussed at a formal meeting. If it is determined that the issue requires change, then a vote is conducted. 
  • The meeting attendees vote on the issue. The voting is performed in a majority rules format.
  • After the vote is conducted, the results will be communicated in the meeting minutes under a prominent heading.

An of example of a process issue is as follows: the decision to host a fundraising trip is not a policy issue, but requires consensus from ICO volunteers to determine if the trip will be conducted.

3.6 Meetings

3.6.1 A monthly meeting is conducted on a pre-scheduled day. The intent of the monthly meeting is to review recent activities (such as trips held since the last meeting), communicate efforts conducted by the separate committees, plan for upcoming trips or other ICO sponsored events, recruit volunteer participation, conduct in-service training, and to propose policy changes subject to a steering committee vote. All volunteers are encouraged to participate in the meeting forum.
  • The meeting location and agenda is communicated to the group 48 hours prior to the meeting date (however at least 7 days is highly encouraged).
  • The meeting agenda is set by the co-chairs. Agenda items are dependent upon the current needs of ICO, as determined by the acting co-chairs. Standing agenda items may include:
  • Trip Reports: A summary of the ICO trips conducted since the last standing meeting.
  • Open Discussion: A forum for any ICO volunteer to communicate concerns.
  • Proposed policy changes.
  • Meeting minutes should be documented by an individual other than a co-chair. Minutes should include a concise list of attendees, decisions made, and pending actions with assigned action item owners. The chairs will review the meeting minutes and electronically share the minutes with all ICO members. Meeting minutes will be posted on the internal website for reference purposes.

3.6.2 An annual retreat is conducted once each year. The intent of the annual retreat is to review the accomplishments from the prior year, recognize all ICO volunteer participation, and set the tone and discuss the goals for the upcoming year. All volunteers are highly encouraged to participate in this forum.
  • The annual retreat is an all day event that incorporates both "business" agenda items and "team-building" activities. Budget providing, the retreat may include an over-night activity intended to promote the bonds of friendship that foster ICO's volunteers.
  • The annual retreat is coordinated by a retreat coordinator. The retreat coordinator organizes the location, ensures that necessary supplies and provisions are obtained, and develops all "team-building" activities.
  • The co-chairs set the agenda for the "business" portion of the retreat. The chairs act as master of ceremonies for the retreat.

3.6.3 A calendar meeting is conducted once each year. The intent of the calendar meeting is to review all agency applications, select the agencies that ICO will serve during the rafting season, and ensure that a trip leader is assigned to the agency. The required attendees for the calendar meeting are the Outreach Coordinator, the Chairs, and the Trip Leaders (or designated representation).
  • Prior to conducting the Calendar meeting, the Outreach Coordinator sends applications to the groups on ICO’s roster and to the new groups recommended by ICO volunteers. All agency groups must submit an application each year that the group desires to schedule a trip with ICO SF Rafting. If the Outreach Committee does not receive a group application prior to the application due date, the group is not considered for the season calendaring. The Outreach coordinator organizes the groups by the preferred dates the groups requested on the applications.
  • During the calendar meeting, the attending members will reviewed the proposed calendar and depending on factors such as Trip Leader availability, a group will get their preferred date. In the event that the preferred dates are not feasible or cannot be provided due to conflicting scheduling, the Outreach coordinator must contact the group to identify additional desired dates for trip scheduling.
  • The proposed season calendar will be reviewed and approved by all meeting participants. Following the approval of the calendar, the scheduled calendar will be published for guides and apprentice sign-up.

3.6.4 An annual Trainee Selection Meeting is conducted prior to the training season. The intent of the trainee selection meeting is to review all applications, conduct applicant interviews, and select the training class. The selection coordinator schedules and conducts the trainee selection meeting. Active volunteers may participate in the interview and selection process.

3.6.5 Committee Meetings may be held at any time subject to the needs of the individual committee members. The only requirement for conducting a committee meeting is that it is the responsibility of the committee chair to report to the co-chairs the date when the committee meeting is to be held and following the committee meeting, all decisions and action items must be communicated to the co-chairs.

4. Job Descriptions

4.1 Administrative Positions Required by the Sierra Club

4.1.1 Chair Responsibilities and Requirements:

The chair functions as the primary leadership role within ICO and serves to promote volunteer compliance with all guidelines set-forth in this document and to act as a liaison between the Sierra Club and ICO Rafting. Two co-chairs work together in concert to ensure that the following responsibilities and requirements are satisfied.

Incoming chairs must meet the following requirements:
  • be a current Sierra Club member
  • be a certified leader or will become a certified leader within 12 months (definition of a certified leader is based upon ICO national definitions and does not require the chair to be a trip leader), and 
  • possess a willing desire to comply with the following expected responsibilities for a minimum two year commitment.

4.1.1.a Chair Responsibilities with Respect to National ICO and the Sierra Club include the following:
  • Act as a contact for national and regional ICO, and communicate on a timely basis with National Steering Committee members and National Staff as needed or requested.
  • Be familiar with resource materials for leaders on Sierra Club websites.
  • Disseminate national ICO policies and information to all local volunteers.
  • Keep ICO National Staff and National Steering Committee representatives informed about local group activities.
  • Participate in the ICO Chair listserve.
  • Prepare quarterly reports, Annual Reports, financial reports and grant reconciliations for National ICO.
  • Attend national and regional conferences. Maintain current leader certifications and training data in LEADERS database

4.1.1b Chair Responsibilities with Respect to SF Rafting include the following:

  • Develop and prioritize goals for the ICO Group.
  • Oversee the ICO Group and delegate tasks to other volunteers.
  • Monitor the activities of each volunteer committee or volunteers in a leadership position within the ICO Group, and coordinate efforts as needed.
  • Conduct regular meetings and coordinate special events.
  • Enforce leadership certification rules and leader requirements.
  • Recruit and follow up on new volunteers.
  • Develop and conduct ongoing leader training opportunities (including ICO OLT 101, CARP, & First Aid).
  • Conduct elections per the ICO Group Bylaws (if applicable) and train the next Chair

4.2 ICO Rafting Administrative Positions

The following Positions are not formally required by the Sierra Club, but have been developed to meet the needs and organizational functioning of ICO SF Bay Rafting.

4.2.1 Finance Coordinator

The Coordinator is charged with inspiring and steering the Finance Committee so that it meets it's three primary responsibilities of Budget Development, Budget Communication, and Budget Enforcement.

4.1.1.a Fundraising Coordinator Shall:
  • Coordinate activities in the fundraising arena, and take the lead on some of them but not all of them. Some activities, such as the fundraising raft trips, are run autonomously by volunteers who choose to take this on.
  • The Coordinator should be the point of contact for grants that become available, and the Coordinator either writes the grant, delegates the grant writing, or consciously chooses to table the grant.
  • The Committee that the Coordinator leads works on grants, as discussed above, but also brainstorms ideas for more possible funding sources, and leads these efforts. This may include things like dinners, bake sales, ad hoc programs like Inflate-a-Raft, dances, etc.
  • Auxiliary activities, that span all fundraising activities (including those not initiated by the Coordinator or the Committee) include tracking a "friends" email list.

4.2.2 Volunteeer Coordinator
  • Maintains a list of all individuals participating in off-river job positions
  • Solicits new volunteer members to fulfill off-river job positions

4.2.3 Training Coordinator:
  • Responsible for all training activities within ICO rafting: Basic, intermediate and advanced guiding skills, first aid and rescue.
  • Recruit volunteers to lead and conduct the various trainings.
  • Schedule, coordinate and review the various training opportunities

4.2.4 Basic Training Coordinator:
  • Responsible for the successful completion of basic raft guide training every year.
  • Reviews and revise the basic training curriculum
  • Recruits volunteers to lead and conduct basic training trips
  • Recruits volunteers to act as off-river support staff for the basic training trips (MOMs)
  • Collects feedback from all participants

4.2.5 Intermediate and Advanced Training Coordinator:
  • Responsible for the successful completion of the intermediate and advanced training every year
  • Reviews and revise the intermediate and advances training curriculum
  • Recruits volunteers to lead and conduct training

4.2.6 Calendar Coordinator
  • Act as contact person between ICO and participating agencies
  • Negotiate participation agreements with agencies
  • Coordinate ongoing agency recruitment efforts; report at monthly meetings
  • Manage the Master Calendar. On a quarterly basis, consolidate the proposed outing dates from each agency team, as applicable.

4.2.7 Recruitment Coordinator shall oversee and coordinate recruitment of new volunteers.
Specifically, the Recruiting Coordinator (or a delegate) shall
  • Publish and collect applications
  • Serve as the primary point-of-contact for potential volunteers
  • Promote volunteer opportunities within ICO
  • The Recruiting Coordinator is not required to participate in the selection or vetting of applicants.

4.2.8 Applicant Selection Coordinator shall
• coordinate reference checks for applicants
• coordinate interviews and selection meeting afterward

4.2.9 Mentor Coordinator
  • Coordinate and assign active ICO volunteers as mentors for trainees
  • Follow up with mentor team to encourage consistent contact with trainee meentee

4.2.10 Volunteer Compliance Coordinator (VCC) shall
  • Maintain records of all active volunteers' certifications, trainings, and fulfillment of Leader and Volunteer Standards required by Sierra Club, National ICO, or local ICO policy.
  • Report volunteer compliance to governing authorities (especially the Chairs) as required and/or reasonably requested
  • Report volunteer compliance to the local membership in a reasonable and customary manner (for example, via the volunteer website)
  • Promote understanding of compliance requirements and standards among the general membership
  • Strive for maximum compliance among the general membershipIt is not the job of the VCC to enforce compliance. Compliance enforcement is the responsibility of the Chairs and the individual Trip Leaders.

4.1.11 Agency Compliance Coordinator
  • Follows up with River Agencies to ensure that annual permit requirements are satisfied
  • Communicates with chairs and ICO volunteers any changes to Agency requirements

4.2.12 Reports Coordinator

  • Submit quarterly insurance reports to National Sierra Club Inner City Outings.
  • Report user days for BLM and county "permitting" agencies.
  • Report end of year season days (guide, TL, participants) to chairs.

4.2.13 Equipment Coordinator
  • Prepare and disseminate information for leaders regarding equipment as necessary.
  • Label and inventory all equipment.
  • Maintain and determine first aid kit needs yearly (kits rotate among leaders in the field).
  • Purchase additional needed equipment, based on approval from the Finance Team.
  • Oversee maintenance and storage of equipment.
  • Coordinate equipment loan system for outings.
  • Coordinate storage of equipment for periodic equipment cleaning.
  • Coordinate equipment maintenance.

4.2.14 Roles of the Ombudsman in ICO
  • The ombudsman serves as an advocate for fairness, to assist members to solve problems and conflicts.
  • The ombudsman acts informally to listen to concerns, receive and provide information, identify and reframe issues, develop a range of reasonable options to address issues of concern, and facilitate discussion to identify the best options.
  • Whenever possible, the ombudsman helps people develop new ways to solve problems themselves.
  • The ombudsman has no role in ICO to adjudicate disputes or discipline members. The Ombudsman is not the ICO judge, jury, referee, or police.

5. Finance

5.1 ICO is a not-for-profit organization. As such, fiscal management is a priority for ensuring the year-over-year sustainability of the group. The Finance Committee is responsible for the development, communication and enforcement of the annual operating budget in a manner that balances the overall goals of the organization with its long term fiscal health. The Finance Committee also works closely with the Treasurer regarding cash management and financial reporting.

5.2 Finance Committee Membership

The finance Committee is comprised of the Finance Committee Coordinator, the Fundraising Coordinator and additional supporting volunteers as needed. The ICO co-chairs oversee and must approve all Finance committee budget proposal and decision, and are committee members by default. The Treasurer is not a required member of the committee and may opt out of budget development processes; the Treasurer role functions to manage the ICO accounts and distribute funds as needed.

5.3 Budget development - The Finance Committee shall develop an annual operating budget for the organization. This budget will be based on reasonable and conservative estimates of cash inflows and outflows, based on historical trends and short term goals. Examples of short term goals can include, but are not limited to: increased efforts in fund-raising; increased funding earmarked for specialized training (e.g. SWR, WFA); additional coverage for shared costs on participant trips, etc.The budgeted will be prepared and presented to the Chairpersons for review and approval.

5.4 Budget Communication - The Finance Committee is also charged with educating ICO's members regarding the overall fiscal policy and proper fiscal responsibility Pursuant to this obligation, the Finance Committee may craft official policies and procedures regarding the usage of funds, i.e. expense reimbursement policies, "Shared Cost" reimbursement policies, etc. Additionally, a member of the Finance Committee is expected to attend the monthly off-river meetings and provide an update of the organization's current financial standing and to promote on overall understanding of how the finances work

5.5 Budget enforcement - The third primary responsibility of the Finance Committee to review and approve all spending decisions, in accordance with the annual budget, and in keeping with the spirit of ICO's mission.

6. Conduct

6.1 Safety

ICO recognizes that whitewater rafting is an activity with inherent risks and therefore safety is of utmost importance to the organization's function in order to continually meet the program goals outlined in section 1.2. Therefore, all sanctioned ICO trips must adhere to the following safety policies, as well as all the Sierra Club Outings Watercraft policies described here:


The trip or activity leader is ultimately responsible for the safety of every volunteers person and participant. However, because safety is our Number One priority, it is the duty of every volunteer's person to take action when unsafe conditions appear to exist or be developing. This action includes, but is not limited to, directly addressing the situation, notifying the trip leader or other responsible person, or notifying the River Chair(s) or the River Committee.

6.1.1 First Aid Policy

6.1.1.a Apprentices and Guides are required to have current Standard First Aid and CPR. It is strongly recommended that all guides take Boater's First Aid or Wilderness First Aid. 

6.1.1.b Trip Leaders are required to have Boater's First Aid or Wilderness First Aid. The Trip Leader needs to maintain "current" standard first-aid and CPR. Trip Leaders are highly encouraged to additionally take Wilderness First Responder.

6.1.1.c First-Aid Coordinator

The  First-Aid Coordinator is someone who has current Wilderness First Aid or higher first aid certification, or a higher level of medical education such as Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), or medical professional training (Medical Doctor or Registered Nurse).

All ICO trips must have a designated  First-Aid Coordinator. The Trip Leader may fulfill this role, or delegate the role to another qualified volunteer. It is encouraged that the role be delegated to a volunteer other than the trip leader to allow the Trip Leader the freedom to focus on group management.

6.1.1.d Note on definition of "current"

In general for both CPR and all levels of first aid, "current" shall be defined as whatever the certifying agency requires. For example, Red Cross Standard First Aid is good for three years.

With respect to internet based recertifications, ICO recognizes the benefit of first-hand re-certification courses and therefore prohibits certification through an internet based program.

6.2 Drug/Alcohol Policy

Alcohol and/or illegal drugs of any kind are not allowed on any ICO trip under any circumstances.

6.3 Volunteer Commitment Policy

Volunteers who sign up for any job, either off river or on river jobs, the volunteer must agree to either carry out that commitment or to find other qualified volunteers to do so. This includes all volunteers that sign up for any ICO trip: in the event that a volunteer guide/apprentice/trip leader cannot participate on an ICO trip, it is the responsibility of the volunteer to
1) contact the trip leader to notify him/her or her of the volunteer's inability to participate in the trip and
2) provided that the trip leader requires a replacement volunteer, the volunteer must identify a suitable replacement who maintains equal or better qualification to participate in a trip (a guide cannot replace him/herself with an apprentice).

7. Equipment Usage Policy

  • ICO equipment shall only be used on calendared ICO trips.
  • Anyone taking equipment from an ICO equipment shed shall coordinate with the Equipment Coordinator and the Trip Leader for the next trip.
  • All volunteers shall assist Trip Leaders with equipment responsibilities as listed in the Trip Leader Manual.
  • The Trip Leader is responsible for reporting to the Equipment Coordinator within two days any rafting equipment, wetsuits, sleeping bags or any other piece of equipment damaged or lost on the trip.
  • The Trip Leader must also notify the next Trip Leader and Equipment Coordinator of any unusable rafting equipment as soon as possible.
  • ICO volunteers on the trip should repair damage to rafts caused by wear and tear, if possible.
  • The Trip Leader may be asked to take damaged raft(s) to the raft vendor/lessor for repair and then deliver the repaired raft(s) or replacement(s) back to the equipment shed.

8. Vehicle Usage Policy

8.1 Leader/Volunteer Provided Transportation

In the event that leaders/volunteers drive participants in private vehicles during the outing, the driver's personal insurance is intended to cover any claims. The following guidelines apply:
  • Drivers' personal auto insurance coverage is the ONLY coverage applicable to any claims.
  • All drivers must have proof of auto insurance that meets the minimum liability and collision coverage requirements for the state in which his/her car is registered.
  • Prior to driving in an outing, drivers must have passed a DMV screening check within the last five years.

8.2 Use of Agency/Participant Group Vehicles

In the event that an agency/participant group provides vehicles for use in an ICO outing, the following guidelines apply:
  • The agency must provide a driver for the agency vehicle to transport agency participants.
  • ICO leaders/volunteers cannot drive agency vehicles unless they are also representative members of the agency.
  • The agency's auto insurance coverage is the ONLY coverage applicable to any claims; agency insurance coverage is 100% responsible for any claims.

8.3 Carpooling

Carpooling is defined here as the use of participant-owned vehicles, or a combination of participant-owned and volunteer/leader-owned vehicles, for transportation to, from, and during Sierra Club outings. On such outings, the outing officially begins at the trailhead (the rendezvous point for the trip, be that at camp or the river put in). Carpool transportation is at the sole risk of the participants, both driver and passengers, even if they are leaders or staff of the outing or activity. If carpooling is to occur, the Trip Leader is responsible for ensuring all of the following:
  • Participants are advised in advance that neither ICO nor the Sierra Club will assume any responsibility for carpools.
  • ICO Volunteers must not assign which cars participants ride in. They must limit their involvement in carpool arrangements to making participants aware of who needs, and who is offering, rides.

8.4 Charter Bus or other Chartered Vehicle

In some instances a charter bus or chartered vehicle may be used on an ICO trip. If the vehicle requires a special license to operate and volunteers do not possess the applicable license, then a company must be hired to provide both the vehicle and the driver. In this situation the following guidelines apply:
  • The vehicle must be chartered with professional drivers.
  • A certificate of insurance in the amount of $1,000,000 general liability coverage must be furnished to the Sierra Club by the bus company or owner, naming the Sierra Club as an additional insured.
  • The bus company and both the leader and group chair must sign a Third Party Concessionaire Agreement.

9. ICO Trips

9.1 Season

The ICO Rafting season is split into two periods: training trips and paticipant trips. Due to volunteer availability, training trips and participant trips should not overlap. Based upon the calendar and scheduling, training trips usually begin in March. Participant trips begin the first weekend in May and run through September or August, depending on river flows and the needs of participant groups.

9.2 Types of Trips

9.2.1 Training Trips

Training trips take place at the beginning of each season before the participant trips begin. Training trips are for the benefit of the guides in training. Other experienced guides (who have passed the instructor training course) provide the training for basic, intermediate and advanced skills. The ICO volunteers supporting the trip handle the logistics (shuttle, food, expenses, and equipment).

On Basic Training Trips the “trainees” do most of the work required both on-river and off-river to gain the experience required to perform the tasks during a participant trip. They are helped by other experienced ICO volunteers on the trip. In intermediate and Advanced Training trips, the work is split among all volunteers (both trainers and trainees).

9.2.2 Participant Trips

Participant trips are for the benefit of the Agency Groups served by ICO. Volunteer Guides and Apprentice Guides teach, learn and assist the group with tasks throughout the trip. ICO volunteers guide the boats down the river while working with their participant crews to ensure a safe river experience. On all participant trips ICO Rafting encourages teambuilding and education (history and environmental) with the participant group. During off river activities more teamwork is encouraged through the activities required to set up camp, cook dinner, clean dishes and play games.

9.3 Weekend Trips

ICO typically schedules a trip each weekend of the season. Most of the trips are weekend trips. A weekend trip can be either a one day, two day, or three day trip and may include overnight camping.

9.3.1 Over-lapping Trip Weekends

Sometimes two groups are scheduled for trips on the same weekend. This is generally not ideal due to the constraint upon the ICO Rafting resources for gear and volunteer time required to support two trips on the same weekend. The scheduling of two ICO rafting trips on one weekend must be conducted with both responsible Trip Leaders and only if the Trip leaders are willing to work together to make both trips happen and if the participant groups are adequately small enough to not present an undue burden on the ICO Rafting resources.

9.4 Weekday Trips

In some instances a participant group may request a weekday trip. These trips may be one day or multiple days, but the scheduling and implementation of a weekday trip is dependent upon the scheduling of an available trip leader and adequate staffing of guides.

9.5 Expedition Trips

By definition, an expedition trip is a trip where all camping and cooking gear is carried down river with the participant groups. The camp is typically set up on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) public land, providing a secluded nature experience unique from the typical "car camping." Expedition trips can be conducted over two days, or in some instances, over multiple days. Expedition trips require a large commitment from both the ICO volunteers and the participant group. The trip leader for an expedition trip requires strong organizational skills.

9.6 Definitions of an ICO Rafting Trip Beginning and End

9.6.1 For participants: The start of the trip is considered as the time when volunteers and participants meet at the rendezvous. The redenzvous location is determined by the trip leader and the group leader. Under normal trip circumstances the trip ends after all participants have left the volunteers. However, the Trip Leader may end the trip at any time, at the discretion of the Trip Leader's judgment.

9.6.2 For volunteers: The start of the trip is when volunteers meet at the equipment shed (either the South Fork American Lotus shed or the Oakland shed), or when volunteers leave the departing destination (home/workplace/school) if they do not go to the equipment shed. The trip ends at the equipment shed, or when volunteers arrives at their final destination (home or other) if they do no go to the equipment shed.

9.7 Pre-Trip Meeting: A pre-trip meeting must be conducted with the participant agency group and the ICO volunteers.   The pre-trip meeting should be held at least three weeks prior to the trip for new groups, or two weeks prior to the trip for returning groups.  The trip leader and guides should be in attendance at the pre-trip meeting to introduce the ICO volunteers to the participant group.

.8 Trip Staffing, Scheduling, and Documentation

The following requirements for trip staffing and scheduling are required to ensure that the trip is safely conducted.
  • All trips must be scheduled through ICO trip scheduling procedures.
  • All trips must be staffed within the requirements outlined in the Sierra Club Outings Watercraft Policies
  • There must be a trip leader, a rescue coordinator, and a first aid person on every trip.
  • There must be at least two rafts on every trip.
  • There must be at least one oar boat designated for safety on each trip. An exception is on the Middle Fork American, where an oar boat is not required because of portages. The designated safety oar boat must have a guide in it.
  • A leaderless or non-guide (apprentice guided boat) may be included in the trip as a separate training boat only and may not include participant paddlers. This boat may be an oar boat, but cannot be the designated safety oar boat.
  • There must be one extra guide on any trip that intends to raft one or more Class IV or higher rapids. If a guide were to become incapacitated, the trip should be able to continue while meeting all other requirements of this section.

9.9 Guide/Apprentice Volunteer Sign-Up
  • A guide/apprentice can sign up for a trip once the calendar is set, either at a monthly river meeting and by signing-up on line.

  • The training calendar is posted prior to the season, typically at the end of the previous season.   The participant calendar is scheduled in April of the season that the trips are planned.

  • It is up to the Trip Leader’s discretion as to whom staffs the trip. They can add or release people based on need. Guides must check in with a trip leader 2 weeks prior to the trip to reserve their spot and to offer assistance to the TL and Assistant TL.

9.10 Trip Logistics
The trip leader must ensure that the following requirements are satisfied for all volunteers supporting the trip:
  • Verify that all guides have current certifications as outlined in section 2.2.
  • All participants and volunteers must complete medical and liability realease forms prior to the beginning of the trip.  The trip leader must carry signed Medical Release forms for all volunteers and participants in an acceptable location (dry box  or dry bag) while on river.  The trip leader must maintain the Liability Release forms in a secure location throughout the trip.
At the completion of the trip, the Trip Leader is Responsible for the following:
  • Ensuring all gear, especially cooking gear is clean, dry and ready for the next trip.
  • Replacing items used during the trip from the first aid kit, patch kit, lantern, etc, or informing the subsequent trip leader of any required replacements.
  • Reporting to the Equipment Manager within two days any rafting equipment damaged or lost on the trip.
  • Notifying the next Trip Leader and Equipment Coordinator of any unusable or worn out rafting equipment
  • Completing a Trip Report to be submitted to the ICO Co-Chairs for insurance and statistical reporting purposes.
  • Send the Liability Release forms to the appropriate person (co-chair) no later than two weeks after the trip.

10. Training Program

10.1 Basic Training

The goal of ICO Rafting Basic Training is to provide new guides for ICO participant trips.

1.Basic training introduces new volunteers to the skills necessary to work successfully with our participant groups and to serve as active Sierra Club - ICO volunteers.

2. Basic training also provides trainees with the skills necessary to become safe, competent, reliable and confident class 3 river guides as measured on the South Fork of the American River.

10.2 Intermediate Training

The objective of intermediate training is to provide volunteers with additional instruction to improve their raft guiding skills

10.3 Advanced Training

The objective of Advanced Training is to provide volunteers an opportunity to observe, learn and practice class IV river guiding and to expose volunteers the skills required for guiding rivers that they have had minimal experience guiding.

10.4 First Aid and Rescue Training

The purpose of First Aid and Rescue Training is to provide volunteers with the opportunity to learn and practice the skills and to maintain current certification in Swiftwater Rescue, Wilderness First Aid and CPR.

11. Volunteer Progression

This Section will be updated in a later version to be ratified per Steering Committee vote.

Ryan Clark,
Feb 19, 2011, 1:45 PM
Ryan Clark,
May 26, 2011, 9:11 PM