Who Is Going to Go?

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How do you choose your trip mates? It's one of the most important decisions you will need to make as a trip leader, and something that will impact everyone on the trip. You will be living, traveling, and cooking with the same folks under sometimes trying conditions for two to four weeks or more. Think of it as having a bunch of roommates with everyone bringing their own furniture and moving everyday for the length of a trip. An expedition mentality is certainly called for. So what's in an "expedition mentality"?

Probably the most critical component is desire. A trip opportunity is a treasured gift and all the trip participants should truly want to go. This doesn't guarantee compatibility but it is an important factor.

Second on the list is a sense of humor and not taking one's self so seriously. Humility and a small ego will help the trip go so much smoother. Remember there are many ways to do the same thing.

Next is what important contributions a person can add to the trip. Probably the highest on the list is a person with a boat that can carry gear/people and the ability to row it--although experience rowing in the Grand Canyon is not essential, it helps if at least a couple of participants are familiar with it.

Once passenger and gear demands are met, you might want to look at other factors in trip mates: ability to aid in rescues (i.e. kayakers), gender balances, and talents such as cooking, organizing or experience with previous Grand Canyon trips, photographers, first aid knowledge, or experience with backcountry hiking.

Evaluate your group's abilities. Are they competent enough to get through the Grand Canyon? Moreover, does your group have the capabilities to handle problems if and when they occur? This is the difference between thinking you can row a rapid compared to whether you think your group can right a flipped fully-loaded raft or deal with people that have minor or major injuries. Remember, the Grand Canyon is remote and help is not just around the corner. Do not rely on just getting lucky and not encountering any problems but prepare for possible problems.

Personality is important, but bear in mind that people change greatly under stress and in situations under which you may not have previously known them. An expedition through a place like Grand Canyon can be either the glue that cements relationships or the wedge that breaks them apart, and this has been proven over and over again. See the "10 Day Syndrome" discussed in the Group Dynamics page in this Wiki.

Folks new to rafting, the backcountry and/or the Grand Canyon shouldn't be excluded on this basis alone. The wonder and excitement of these people can lend great energy to a trip. Also, don't automatically exclude strangers, as this can be a terrific way to enlarge your circle of great boating friends, and can be an opportunity to share ideas and experiences and expand your boating knowledge. In the case of new boaters, you do need to help them understand what to expect and how to prepare for the trip, physically and mentally. You may also find some good advice in the section under A Primer for New Boaters and Trip Philosophy elsewhere in this Wiki.

Once you sort out who is going, you will need a list of trip participants. This is required by the NPS and will need to include: Legal Name, Date of Birth, Phone, E-mail, address, and where this person is joining/leaving the trip.

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