If you are considering going on a trip it is important you understand what type of trip it is. This is so you know what is expected of you, what level of support and guidance you can expect from others and ultimately so you can judge if the trip is of a type suitable for your level of experience and skills.

Trip Types

There are 4 main types of trips:

1) Informal events
2) Peer trips
3) Leader guided trips
4) Coached trips

1) Informal events
These events offer the least level of organisation. The event organiser will organise the logistics for the event to help get everyone in the same place at the same  time. They will not do any trip planning or provide any direction or focus on the water. An example of this would be someone booking a campsite by a beach with the intention of going sea kayaking/ pub accommodation near a river/ canal etc, but leaving the kayaking side of things for each individual to sort out when they get there. Anyone can organise such an event.

2) Peer trips
From now on these are likely to be the most common type of trips organised by the club and unless stated otherwise, or obviously an ‘informal event’, you should assume this will be the type of trip offered.

Peer trips mean that everyone takes full responsibility for themselves, their safety and their kit, whilst behaving in a responsible way that does not put any other member of the group at risk. Nobody takes overall responsibility for the safety or wellbeing of the group, because the experience and skill level of the group is expected to be similar - you are paddling with a group of peers. Group members are expected to look out for each other, whilst staying within their own limitations, but there is no onus on anyone to support anyone else if they do not feel confident doing so in any given situation.

It is not pragmatic to run trips totally by committee so there will be a ‘trip organiser’. Their role is to organise the logistics for the trip to help get everyone in the right place at the right time. They will also suggest the route of the trip. However, they are not leading or taking responsibility for the group.

Those going on trips must expect to take part in making the trip happen and contribute to decisions that need making as part of the trip (e.g. is the suggested route sensible ? Is it safe to go on / should the group turn back ? etc). Participants can not expect others to make decisions for them / on behalf of the group. You should not go along as a ‘passenger’.

Who can organise a ‘peer trip’ ? In theory anyone who has successfully completed the ITP can. However, people will need to be aware of their limitations. People must not be organising trips on water types or grades they have no or little experience of. They must be able to paddle competently in the conditions themselves. For example, someone who has just done ITP and has little or no other paddling experience may be fine organising a trip up the Avon from the clubhouse (in non-flood conditions), but it would not be appropriate for them to organise a white water trip. The more challenging the water the more experience/ the greater the skill set needed.

Before going on a peer trip you need to ask yourself two questions:
1) Am I confident I can paddle safely in the conditions ?
2) Am I confident I can help rescue others in the conditions ?

If the answer to either is ‘no’ the advice has to be not to go on that trip.

  More on Peer Trips

3) Leader guided trips

Unlike ‘peer trips’ one person will lead the group and, within reason, take responsibility for the group. A leader must have a relevant leader qualification (e.g. BCU 4 star in a relevant discipline), except in specific circumstances (see below).

Leaders will be able to discuss with and advise individuals if the trip will be suitable for them. These types of trips are good for people with no or little experience of planning trips, limited paddling experience, or those who wish to push their limits under the guidance (and with the agreement of) the leader.

Within BCC, active 4 star leaders are scarce at present, so in-house led trips will be limited but arranged when possible. BCU sets criteria around 4 star and 5 star led trips including group size, participants’ competence and water/ weather conditions etc.

Certain 3 star paddlers may be sanctioned by the BCC Committee to lead trips in a limited range of circumstances where the risks are considered to be low. Each leader must be approved by the BCC Committee and this must be recorded in the Committee's minutes.  Leader Criteria: 3* Sea. As a participant on such a trip you will still be expected to take responsibility for your own kit and general safety.

Professional guides/leaders can be hired. The cost is usually split between the participants. The Club may be able to arrange competitive rates.

Anyone could arrange such a trip by hiring a guide. The Trips Officer may be able to help with locating a guide.

4) Coached trips

Hints and tips can be picked up from peers and leaders on any type of trip and time may be set aside for practicing skills. However, some trips may be organised to specifically coach certain skills. Particular  qualifications are needed to lead/coach such trips. If there is a need for these they could be run in conjunction with the BCC Training Officer. Outside coaches may need to be hired.


These notes are for guidance only. Canoeing and kayaking are “Assumed risk” water contact sports that may carry attendant risks.

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