Leadership ability shall be evaluated during a journey where each Trip Leader Candidate is given the opportunity to make appropriate decisions, cognizant of conditions and the current performance capability of the group. Individual lags shall be debriefed to evaluate an understanding of leadership principles and to reveal the candidate’s decision-making process. Candidates must show leadership appropriate to the circumstances, the risk at hand, the individuals being led, and the environmental challenges encountered.

Specific leadership skills and knowledge include:

  • Group abilities – Trip Leader Candidates shall demonstrate the ability to assess individual and group performance capabilities (e.g., skills, experience, judgement, fitness, boats, and equipment) and set goals appropriately.
  • Environmental awareness – Candidates shall demonstrate the ability to assess conditions based on weather forecasts and observed wind, current, and swell. Candidates should also identify protected areas, potential hazards, early exit options, remoteness, and rescue resources. Based on these observations, candidates shall plan an appropriate journey and adapt their plan as conditions change.
  • Group awareness – Candidates shall demonstrate group awareness throughout a trip to include assessing a group’s energy levels, hydration, confidence in conditions, and readiness for upcoming challenges and adjust their trip plans accordingly.
  • Group management – Candidates shall demonstrate group management and control appropriate to the conditions, environment, and group readiness (e.g., spacing, pacing, formation, and supporting roles) to include setting clear parameters and establishing emergency procedures.
  • Risk assessment, incident avoidance, and management – Candidates shall demonstrate on-going risk assessment relative to the readiness of the group, implement proactive strategies to avoid potential incidents, and manage incidents effectively if they do occur.
  • Communication – Candidates shall demonstrate the use of effective and ongoing communication to manage the group, share plans, assess paddlers, adapt to environmental limitations (e.g., wind or swell), and proactively prepare for potential emergencies.
  • Positioning – Candidates are expected to use various positions as appropriate to the situation, environment, and potential consequences. Leader positioning shall reflect an awareness of potential hazards, the need to maintain a line of sight, and preparedness to manage potential rescues and incidents.
  • Launching and landing – Candidates must demonstrate proficiency launching and landing themselves and a group in Level 2 Essentials of Kayak Touring Trip Leader conditions, including planning, communication, and position to maintain group control.

Course Applications and Suggestions: We’ll cover this topic on the water and in the outdoor classroom. Candidates will have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership in scenarios.