A heeler is someone who wants to become a Cabin and Trail leader, so-named because they "follow on the heels" of the leaders.
We're excited that you're interested in leading trips with us! If you have any questions, or would like to meet up to chat about the leadership process or anything else, blitz the CnT account (cabin.and.trail(at)dartmouth.edu) or the current Heeler Chairs, Juan Miche Rosales '20, Ethan Cook '20, Lily Hanig '19, and Iris Wang '20.
Also, you should get on the Heeler blitz list! Simply blitz the Heeler Chairs, and we'll add you.
How to co-lead a trip
The most important part of becoming a leader is to co-lead Cabin and Trail trips.
How? First, find a leader to co-lead with you. You can get a list of current leaders either by blitzing CnT or the Heeler Chair. Also, we have trip planning meetings at 8:30 PM on Tuesday nights in 110 Robo that are open to anyone who might want to co-lead a trip. You just need to show up and suggest a trip - or you can ask to co-lead a trip some other leader wants to do. Leaders are always happy to have Heelers co-lead trips with them! For info on how to make the trip happen, check out Trip Leading Procedures.
After co-leading, don't forget to fill out the heeler feedback form (your co-leader will send you a copy)! These forms are an essential part of becoming a Cabin and Trail leader. Additionally, after co-leading, you should post a trip report blurb (general info, tips, points of interest) on the Cabin and Trail wiki in the CnT trips directory section. If the trip was on CnT-maintained trails, the heeler should also post a trailwork blurb on the Trailwork wiki.
Heelers are usually assigned mentors to help them in the process of becoming a leader. A Heeler mentor is a current Cabin and Trail leader that you can use as a resource. Typically, your mentor goes on at least one co-lead with you before you ascend. If you don't have a mentor, fill out the Mentor Request Form, and blitz it to the Heeler Chairs!
Cabin and Trail leader requirements
For the most up-to-date forms and checklists outlining the CnT leadership and certification process, please see the following four links: Official CnT Leader Requirements, Leader Checklist, Trip Feedback Form.
If you plan well, the leader requirements can be completed in a term or two. However, most of the leaders in CnT take more than a year to complete the requirements. There is no rush; it is better to take more time and develop your skills. Any one can begin the leader requirements at any point, including the co-leads. Freshmen are encouraged to start soon if they feel comfortable with it! The first time you can ascend is your freshman spring.
In order to become a leader in Cabin and Trail you must have completed the following minimum requirements while demonstrating both logistical competence and leadership ability. For the privileges granted a leader, see the end of this section.
- Wilderness First Aid Certification, or higher. Current certification is required of all DOC leaders. The Outdoor Programs Office runs a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course through the PE department. There is a subsidy for current heelers and leaders, please contact us for further information. There are funds in the DOC available to help you if you wish to attain even higher certifications, such as Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT.
- Group Dynamics and Risk Assessment. The DOC offers free Group Dynamics and Risk Assessment classes, usually once or twice a term. Each consists of a single session a couple hours long. Blitz the Heeler chairs for information regarding the dates for the current term. The Risk Management and Group Dynamics sessions for DOC Trips leader training do not count towards these DOC leader requirements since there is a special support system set up for Trips leaders that is not present during the rest of the year.
- One night in a DOC cabin. DOC cabins, and their maintenance, are part of Cabin and Trail's responsibilities and are an important part of the club. Thus, all aspiring leaders must spend at least one night in a DOC cabin (whether as part of a trip, or as a co-leader on a trip).
- Take part in a full day of trailwork or cabin-work on a DOC-maintained trail or cabin. The DOC is responsible for some 75 miles of Appalachian Trail, as well as various other trails, and 10 cabins. The majority of CnT leaders arrive with little or no prior trailwork or cabin-work experience. The required full day of trailwork or cabin-work serves to expose such individuals to this important aspect of Cabin and Trail.
All heelers must complete at least three co-leads, of these trips, two must be full day (“wilderness”) trips, and one must be an overnight. The overnight can be combined with another trip. For one of these trips, the heeler must do all of the logistical work (blitzing trippees, reserving a vehicle, buying food, etc.). For each of their co-leads, the heeler must post a trip report blurb (general info, tips, points of interest) on the Cabin and Trail wiki in the CnT trips directory section. If the trip was on CnT-maintained trails, the heeler should also post a trailwork blurb on the Trailwork wiki.
The Ascensions meeting will be held at the end of every term and/or during the term is there is interest. A heeler who has met the above requirements can attend the meeting. After the meeting, if the majority of CnT Leaders present vote in favor, then the heeler ascends (i.e. becomes a leader).
Lead at least one trip and/or organize at least one event per term, only lead trips which are within your experience and comfort level as a leader, attend weekly meetings as often as possible, and attend termly meetings (e.g. leader retreats, ascensions meetings).
Cabin and trail leaders can lead trips. These trips do not include hiking trips that go above the treeline or winter hiking trips--to lead these trips, you must get additional certifications (see below). They also get to participate in the Ascensions ceremony, get access to the CnT blitz account, and can rent DOC cabins for free. Plus, leaders get a sweet patch!
Cabin and Trail certifications
Cabin and Trail offers a certification that allows Cabin and Trail leaders to lead a greater variety of trips, including above-treeline trips winter trips and multi-day winter trips. Heelers can get this certification at the same time that they become a CnT leader, or at any point after ascending.
- Must already have Wilderness certification.
- Complete an overnight, hands-on winter skills course taught by a qualified member of OPO. This course will include a night spent at elevation in winter conditions, discussion of managing cold and frostbite/hypothermia, and hands-on training in ice-axe use, self-arrest, assessing avalanche danger, and emergency snow shelter building. There is usually at least one winter skills course every winter term.
A Certification meeting will be held whenever there is a demand. Leaders that have completed the above requirements may attend this meeting. To receive the certification, they must receive approval of the majority of Winter-certified leaders present at meeting.
Winter-certified leaders may lead any trip, including multi-day winter trips and above-treeline winter trips.
Special notes on the leadership process
- Commitment: While no formal demonstration of commitment (to Cabin and Trail) requirement exists, an aspiring leader should be familiar with the leaders, membership, and activities of the club. In the past, a minimum of two terms prior involvement has been considered requisite. It is recommended that this practice be continued, as the period affords ample exposure to the full breadth of the club's offerings. In the case of certain highly qualified individuals whose previous familiarity with CnT borders involvement (e.g. leaders of other DOC clubs, and especially Winter Sports), it may prove desirable to waive this expectation.
- Petitioning: Any of the above leader requirements may be waived by successful petition to Cabin and Trail Council and subsequent approval of the waiver by the club advisor (Outdoor Programs Office). This clause is intended to grant qualified candidates flexibility (through substitution or waiver) in satisfying the above requirements given unforeseen or adverse circumstances. In particular, this clause should not be interpreted as an escape clause through which the above requirements are to be circumvented.
- Additionally, any heeler may submit a written petition to Council requesting immediate review of his or her qualifications for ascension, either because he or she feels the review of such materials is being blocked, or because he or she disagrees with the decision rendered upon a previous such review, or for some other stated reason. Such a review is to be granted in a timely manner, and a copy of its outcome and justifications transmitted to the candidate thereafter. Mediation of such a review by the club advisor may also be requested.