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by Sue Garlick (with thanks to Chris Shattock and Carmel Grey.)
We all love to walk, so those who lead our walks and run our bushwalking club are pretty important people, as they enable us to do what we love. The club is dependent on walk leaders for the preparation and organisation of the walks and to ensure that things go smoothly on the walk day. But walkers are important, too, they can contribute to the success of a walk by supporting walk leaders in a number of ways.
Make sure you sign on for any walk you wish to do at the monthly club meeting, so that all your details are written down for the leader. If you don't have time to add your name to the list before the meeting, the lists will still be there after the meeting too. If you can't actually attend the meeting, you can either ask a friend to sign you on in your absence or go to online booking and sign up for the walk there. Remember that it's the walks coordinator who prepares the sign-on sheets, so walks leaders don't actually see the sheets before they appear at the meeting. If you haven't been able to ask a friend to sign up for you, and can't get to the meeting, you can ring or email the leader after the meeting has actually taken place. Or as mentioned earlier, you can go to online booking and sign on there. On no account just ring and leave a message, expecting the leader to ring you back. Remember, if you want to walk, it's your responsibility to contact the leader, and not the other way around. Booking by email or preferably via online booking makes the leader's work load a little easier, if you are unable to get to the meeting and book yourself.
Signing on does not confirm you on the walk. See "Confirm on time" below.
The Club tries hard to keep walkers' costs down by asking leaders to arrange car-pooling. However, this is dependent on walkers being prepared to offer lifts to other walkers, at least some of the time. You can help out by offering to drive too.
If you have arranged to drive with a friend, please remember to write this on the sheet. If you don't, it's unreasonable to expect the leader to change the car-pooling arrangements which he/she has already painstakingly worked out. It's much better to make sure the leader knows of your arrangement first.
If you have requested a lift, remember that it is your responsibility to contact the allocated driver to finalise travel arrangements, after you have confirmed the walk. Get your driver's phone number from the leader and ring him/her yourself. Remember, too, that drivers often have a long, responsible drive to and from the walk, so be helpful and offer to meet at the driver's house to make things a little easier all around. Remember to take appropriate cash so you can give the driver the exact amount for your fuel contribution.
If you have offered to drive, take down all the travel and meeting details carefully, so that you can work out what time you need to leave home to arrive at the walk on time. Above all, make sure you take all this information with you in the car, so you can find the meeting place easily when you arrive.
If you are unable to walk, please cancel as early as possible, especially if you have offered to drive, so that the leader can re-organise the car-pooling, and offer your position to someone else. Above all, keep a careful record of all the walks you have listed for and make sure you confirm or cancel each one.
Confirm on Time
It is really important to confirm a walk on time, as positions on the walk are allocated as people ring in to confirm. The time to do this is between 7:00pm and 9:00 pm on the Monday or Tuesday before the walk unless the leader advises otherwise. For example, you may have to confirm earlier than this for some mid-week walks.
After the confirmation time the leader will allocate unconfirmed positions to anyone on the waiting list. After this, the leader has limited time to get the list of walkers, map and other details to the Club's emergency contact. So do your bit to help and confirm early, rather than later in the evening.
Late Cancellations or Re-Arrangements
If you do have to cancel or change your walk plans at the last minute, make sure you ring the leader, your driver and the Club's emergency contact to let them know you cannot walk. Late cancellations may require changes in travel arrangements, and the emergency contact has to be notified to cross your name off the list.
Leaders have to make a lot of phone calls. If you can't get hold of a leader, and need to leave a message, please don't expect them to ring you back. Leave your number, with a brief message, but say you'll call again. It is your responsibility to contact them, not vice versa.
After the Walk
When the walk has finished, don't forget to thank the leader before you leave, and let them know how much you enjoyed the walk. It's little things like that that make the leader's job worth-while. People like to read about walks in the BBC News, so volunteer to write a report for the leader.
The Black Lists
No we don't have them, but they are sometimes discussed at leaders' meetings. Names mentioned are usually those people who sign on but never ring the leader to confirm, cancel or apologise for forgetting to do either. Others are those who don't participate fairly in the travel pooling, that is they are happy to ask for and accept a lift, but never offer to drive and give lifts to others, even though they have a car. If all walkers help out, even occasionally, it makes life easier all around.
The BBC is a club of people with a common interest - walking - and it is essential that members support members, whether walking, leading or managing the club. The BBC is a voluntary organisation, and all the work leaders do for the club is in their own time. The best way to ensure that the club works for you is to support the leaders who make our walks possible.