Field Trip Guidelines For the COVID-19 environment
In this “new abnormal environment”, when many events and activities are being cancelled, Dr. Bonnie Henry encourages us to get outside. For VNHS members, the preferred activity is a field trip.
Yes, trips are still possible, if they can be done safely according to public health directives, and common sense. We ask that you be double vaccinated to participate in VNHS field trips, keep physical distance but if unable, put on your mask.
Following are, what we hope will be temporary, guidelines for leaders and participants.
- If more than 10 people sign up for the trip, the leader has the option of splitting the group.
- Please respect physical distancing, two metres apart, while on trails and in groups.
- Please bring a face mask, to be used if physical distancing is not possible.
- Please ensure that your field trip waiver (attached to the membership application and renewal form) is current and signed. As stated on the form, you are attending field trips at your own risk.
- Generally, carpooling is encouraged, but the driver has the discretion to request the wearing of masks.
- Please bring your own binoculars and/or spotting scopes and avoid sharing them.
- Please stay at home if you are feeling ill, especially if you have any possible COVID-19 symptoms, or even feel unsure about being with a group of people.
- Please respect the trip leader’s right, and obligation, to limit the number of participants in any field trip. The leader also has the right to alter, or even, cancel a field trip. Please remember that our field trip leaders are volunteers, giving their time and knowledge freely and generously.
- Finally, please check the VNHS website ahead of time to ensure that the trip is still scheduled to take place.
VNHS provides its members with a variety of field trips* covering a broad range of nature and natural history-related subjects. These trips are intended to be informative, practical, and enjoyable for participants, and are conducted with due regard to age and safety. Field trips are scheduled for most weekends throughout the year and occasionally on weekdays. Scheduling of more than one trip on any given date will be possible if the opportunity arises (ideally trips on the same day will be for different topic areas). A field trip may be suggested by members, program organizers (evening presentations), trip organizers, or trip leaders themselves.
*Field Trip is defined as every kind of outdoor activity arranged by the VNHS.
Who Can Participate in Field Trips
Members – Field trips are available to all members on a first come, first served basis (no restriction on the number of trips per person). NOTE: For trips where advance registration is required, the “early bird gets the worm”.
Minors – A parent or official guardian of participants under 19 years of age must sign the Informed Consent/Assumption of Risk form on their behalf. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
Non-members – Non-members are welcome to join in these trips but are asked to limit their participation to three events, after which they will be requested to join the Society (Honour system).
Informed Consent/Assumption of Risk and Release of Liability/Waiver of Claims
VNHS has liability insurance through BC Nature with SBC Insurance Agencies Ltd. (underwritten by Lloyds) to protect members, trip leaders, organizers and volunteers against lawsuits from third parties. This liability policy covers legal liability for bodily injury to or damage to property of others, including participants in club activities. All participants must sign the Informed Consent/Assumption of Risk and Release of Liability/Waiver of Claims form in order to be covered by the Society insurance.
Current Members – sign the Consent/Release of Liability form when they renew their annual membership (forms are valid for one year from date of signing).
New Members – sign the Consent/Release of Liability form when they join the society.
Non-Members – sign the Consent/Release of Liability form at the start of each trip (non-members self-identify – leaders are not responsible for enforcing this).
- Participants are responsible for arranging their own transport.
- It is suggested that passengers offer the driver reimbursement for gas, particularly on trips outside the CRD area involving car-pooling. The amount of reimbursement to be at the driver’s discretion.
Notification for Field Trips
Notice is given by:
- the printed/PDF newsletter (members only)
- the calendar on the VNHS website (this website!)
- Twitter and other media
Field Trip Coordinator
- is the link between the Board and the Society’s members, Leader Liaison, and Leaders
- accepts submissions for field trips/events and checks to ensure no conflicts (while ensuring maximum choice is available). More than one trip per date is possible.
- works with members and Leader Liaison in soliciting new leaders/trips
- provides newsletter editor with the list of confirmed trips for inclusion in the newsletter calendar, the VNHS website, and other media.
- can be the trip leader or person who contacts potential leaders
- submits topic, description, date, time and leader for field trip to Field Trip Coordinator for approval as long as possible before the intended trip, ideally 2-3 months. Once approved, Leader Liaison confirms with leader.
- notifies members through various media, augmenting information in the VNHS newsletter and website.
Field Trip Leader
On the day of the field trip, the safety of participants will be handled by the field trip leader.
The Field Trip Leader
- can change or cancel a field trip based on judgment of the weather or any other relevant factors.
- can limit the number of participants if doing so enhances the enjoyment of those who attend.
- meets at the designated time/location prepared to answer questions. Provides any “props” appropriate to the topic if desired.
- requests that all participants sign the “Participant” list (based on honour system – leader is not responsible for enforcing this). Field Trip Leader may designate someone to do this on his/her behalf.
- explains about liability waivers at the beginning of each trip (Field Trip Leader may designate someone to do this on his/her behalf):
- describes the importance of the Informed Consent/Assumption of Risks and Release of Liability and asks that non-members sign the Consent/Release of Liability form (based on honour system – leader is not responsible for enforcing this). Leader should have a supply of blank forms and pens/pencils. Forms collected to be submitted to the VNHS Secretary at a mutually agreed upon time and place (not necessary to submit after every trip).
- is prepared with a plan of action to be taken in the event of an injury to a participant. Most trips are uneventful, but it is best to be prepared.
- ensures a basic First Aid kit is available (this does NOT imply that the leader has medical/1st Aid training).
- as much as possible, makes sure that in large groups, all participants are present before starting talk.
- encourages everyone to provide feedback on the trips to Field Trip Coordinator.
- NOTE: Trip leaders are not to solicit or accept remuneration. If there are donations, they are considered as donations to the Society.
Tips for Participants
- No Pets Please! Due to allergy concerns and potential for damage to participants and the environment.
- Choose clothing that is sufficient for the weather expected – consider the weather in the trip area – and wear footwear suitable to the terrain/level of difficulty.
- Bring a snack or light lunch and plenty to drink (bring more food and water than you think you’ll need).
- Remember to “leave nothing but footprints”.
- On trips to the United States, a valid passport or an enhanced driver’s licence is now required. It is advisable to have extended medical insurance as the BC Medical plan covers only a small portion of most medical costs in the US. For information on travel to the United States, see http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel