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Recommendations to Girl Guides of Canada

********************* Girl Guides of Canada ("GGC") 1.
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********************* Girl Guides of Canada ("GGC")

1. GGC should clarify terms in its Policy, Organization and Rules ("POR") and Safe Guide and any other literature relating to canoe trips and waterfront activities that should include:

(a) Defining "waterfront activity" as being an activity within a roped off area or clearly defined area either on land abutting water access or in water abutting a beach or waterfront. It does not include open water or a situation where a person can find one self in deep, open or fast moving water.

(b) Defining canoeing activities that take place outside of a defined waterfront area (as described in paragraph a above) as an adventure activity with emphasis being placed on the risks inherent in such activity, and making it clear that the activity should only be undertaken by those qualified and trained to lead such activity. Minimum requirement would be the Canoe Trip Leader Certificate.

(c) Stating that the sterns person in every canoe have the canoeing qualification level that is recommended by Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association ("CRCA") or a provincial branch of CRCA such as Ontario Recreational Canoeing Association ("ORCA") for the type of canoeing that is being undertaken.

2. GGC should examine and make appropriate revisions to the risk assessment checklist and the camp application forms in the Safe Guide which would ensure that any proposed camp that involves a canoe trip of any nature is necessarily assessed by a person with the appropriate knowledge and qualifications before the camp application is approved. 3. GGC should examine and make appropriate revisions to the portions of POR and Safe Guide respecting canoe trips/outings to explicitly require that Guide Leaders, who are organizing the event, to prepare a written plan for the canoe trip/outings that would address the following points: - prepare a written schedule of events, the route to be taken, names and ages of people attending, canoeing expertise, swimming ability, time event will occur and expected time of return;

- contact the OPP during the planning stage of the canoe trip to obtain boating safety information; - conduct a swimming test of all intended participants to assess their ability in the water - develop in writing an Emergency Response Plan to be implemented in case of an emergency. All leaders attending this camp to be made aware of this plan prior to the outing;

- designate an alternative supervisor in charge if the supervisor is not present. This individual will have access to the Emergency Response Plan, Consent Forms, medical information, maps of the area as well as nautical charts of the intended canoe route;

- have local Camp Advisor review planning to ensure that all steps are followed properly

- conduct a parents/guardian meeting at least 2 weeks prior to the canoe outing. At that time, the plan will be discussed as well as the developed emergency plan. Informed consent forms will be signed by parents/guardian who attend this meeting. Attendance at this meeting is mandatory; - conduct a swimming test of all intended participants to assess their ability in the water;

4. The Emergency Response Plan referred to above should include a script for a telephone call for help and will include the following information:

- The location of the camp with street address, 911 number and local landmarks

- Directions of camp location from nearest town - Information about the name, age and description of the participants; - Description of the type of emergency; - Contact information for the responsible Guide Leader by cellphone, radio, land telephone, etc. - Notes should be taken by the person making the call of the time they placed the call and the name of the person that she spoke with and any other relevant particulars.

5. If the proposed plan is approved by those appointed by GGC, the Guide leaders involved in the canoe trip should comply with the following requirements (a) contact the Ontario Provincial Police ("OPP") and/or the local police service during the planning stage of the canoe trip to obtain boating safety information;

(b) prior to the canoe trip, advise OPP and/or the local police service of the precise time and route of the canoe trip. (c) provide confirmation to GGC that each canoe will be equipped with the equipment listed in the Safe Boating Guide;

(d) prior to embarking on the canoe trip, provide instruction to the participants on how to respond if a canoe capsizes; (e) take communications equipment on the canoe trip such as portable floatable VHF radios, cell phones, walkie-talkies, satellite phones, etc. The canoeists shall have a means of communicating between themselves and persons on land who are aware of the boating plan and can act in the event of an emergency;

(f) check the marine weather forecast immediately prior to embarking on the canoe trip, with the expectation that if the anticipated weather poses a safety risk, appropriate safety measures will be taken (including, if warranted, cancellation of the canoe trip); (g) If the water temperature is such that exposure to the water for a short period of time would likely cause hypothermia, then heat retention clothing should be worn.

(h) If canoeing activities are to occur within the waterfront as redefined, there should be proper and adequate supervision.

(i) Any other conditions required by the person approving the plan.

6. Pending the consideration and implementation of recommendations #1 to 5 above, GGC shoutd not permit any canoeing activities to occur unless the application for a canoeing activity has been submitted to and approved by a qualified person appointed by the applicable GGC Provincial Council 7. GGC should continue its current practice of providing Guide Leaders with canoe training through the Ontario Recreational Canoeing Association ("ORCA") and similar organizations in other provinces. All certifications must be kept current/up to date.

8. All Girl Guide training courses to have some means of follow-up to ensure that course participates are properly trained.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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