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Outdoor Education - Canoe Tripping

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Secondary - Curricular 2018

Single day and multi day trips which travel more than 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance and multi day trips which travel within 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance.

White Water Canoeing, White Water Rafting and White Water Kayaking are not appropriate activities at the secondary level.

Consult Outdoor Education – General Procedures and Outdoor Education – Swimming (if swimming is involved).

Identify your trip and determine the required qualifications:

  • Multi day trips which travel a distance within 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance. (Local)
  • Single day trips which travel more than 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance. (Back-country)
  • Multi-day trips which travel more than 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance. (Back-country)

This activity page must be presented to the activity provider prior to the activity taking place. The activity provider must meet the minimum requirements listed on this page. For more information on planning trips using outside providers, consult Appendix O - Outside Activity Providers.

Definitions:

  • Teacher – A person with a current certification from the Ontario College of Teachers, under contract by the school/board. This person is legally responsible for the students.
  • Trip Guide – An individual who has the required certifications and/or knowledge/skills of the route and activity. This role could be fulfilled by a teacher, a parent/guardian/volunteer or an employee of an outside provider, and must be approved by the school/board.
  • Instructor – An individual who provides instruction on skills and possesses the required certifications. This role could be fulfilled by a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or an employee of an outside provider.
  • Lifeguard, Assistant Lifeguard and Aquatic Instructor – refer to Supervision section.
  • Parent/guardian/volunteer – An adult who has been approved by the principal and has been instructed on responsibilities (e.g., monitoring [supervision]).
  • Supervisor – A supervisor for outdoor education activities is a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or trip guide. This term is used only in relation to supervision ratios for outdoor education activities .
  • Outside Provider - An outside facility contracted by the school/board to provide activity services.

Equipment

Determine that all equipment is safe for use (e.g., no sharp edges, sharp corners, cracks, or splinters). Students must be encouraged to report equipment problems to the teacher.

A fully stocked first aid kit must be readily accessible. (Consult Appendix D – Sample First Aid Kit)

A working communication device (for example, satellite or cell phone, or satellite GPS messenger) suitable for the activities/locations must be available. This device must be maintained, waterproofed, protected and dedicated for emergency communications only. The phone number for the device and phone numbers for emergency services and school contact people (for example, the principal) must be included with the phone.

Comply with the Minimum Safety Equipment Requirements in Transports Canada's Safe Boating Guide

Correctly fitting and Transport Canada-approved PFD/lifejacket with whistle attached must be worn and properly secured at all times when near or on the water.

Two paddles per canoe, with some spare paddles taken along in case of broken or lost paddles.

Paddles and canoes checked for cracks, splinters and leaks.

A repair kit must be available.

Appropriate canoe tripping packs must be available for multi-day trips.

A means of hydration (e.g., direct access to potable water, filters, purifier, chemical) must be available, accessible, and appropriate for the activity, location and duration of the trip.

For emergency purposes, trips must not rely solely on campfires. A camp stove must be available, accessible, and appropriate for the activity, location and duration of the trip.

Waterproof matches and/or matches in a waterproof container must be available.

A set of maps for canoe trip location including marked access and potential evacuation locations must be available. A GPS unit may be used as an additional navigational tool, but must not be used in place of print maps. An identical map set should also be available to the principal/designate and local emergency contact (e.g., park official, area police station).

Clothing/Footwear/Jewellery

Determine that all necessary clothing and footwear are included prior to departing on the excursion. Students must be provided with a clothing and equipment list prior to the activity. A process must be established to check student clothing and equipment prior to the trip. Clothing (in layers where appropriate) and footwear (i.e. closed-toed shoes that provide traction when on land) appropriate for the activity, location and environmental conditions must be worn. Dry change of clothing kept in a watertight bag/container. Rain gear is permitted.

No articles (jewellery, clothing, lanyards) shall be worn that could become tangled, caught or cause injury or restrict the student in the event of an emergency.

When long hair poses a safety risk it must be secured. Devices (e.g. hair pins, clips and barrettes) used to tie back long hair must not present a safety concern.

Facilities

Determine that all facilities are safe for use. Students must be encouraged to report facility problems to the teacher.

Only established canoe trip routes must be used.

Canoe route and water conditions must be appropriate to age/skill level of students.

Trip guide must be familiar with the route (e.g., length of route, terrain).

Check with local authorities for current information regarding route safety.

Appropriate environmental and sanitary practices (e.g., washroom routines) must be taught.

Special Rules/Instructions

Be aware of students whose medical condition (e.g., asthma, anaphylaxis, casts, previous concussion, orthopaedic device) may affect participation. (Consult Fundamentals of Safety)

Students must not participate in the activity until they receive information on concussion prevention specific to the activity, inherent risks of the activity (e.g. outline possible risks and ways to minimize the risks), and procedures and rules for safe play. Students must receive instruction on the importance of reporting symptoms related to a suspected concussion.

Refer to individual school board’s transportation procedures related to communicating with parents/guardians the location of an off-site activity and the means of transportation used as well as to the need for obtaining parent/guardian permission.

Parents/guardians must be informed that all students will wear a correctly fitting and Transport Canada approved PFD/lifejacket, with whistle attached, when near or on the water.

Activities must be modified according to the age, ability level, language, and experience of students and the facility available.

Previous training, fitness level and the length of time and intensity of physical activity must be taken into consideration.

Activities must be based on skills taught.

Skills must be taught in proper progression.

A proper warm-up and cool-down must be included.

Each day a lead boat and sweep boat must be assigned. A signal system must be in place (e.g., whistle calls) for communication between boats.in

A principal/designate in the school, and each teacher (and trip guide [where appropriate]) on the excursion must have: a map of route and an excursion itinerary including an emergency action plan (e.g., supervisory chain of command, emergency evacuation plan, emergency access points, local emergency contact phone numbers).

The loading of a canoe with people and/or gear must not exceed the manufacturer’s load capacity rating.

Adequate liquid replacement (personal water bottles, water fountains) must be accessible for students before, during and after physical activity to prevent dehydration.

Instructions and Communications

Prior to the trip, students must receive explicit instruction by a trip guide or teacher on the following:

  • Suitable clothing systems (e.g., fabrics, recommend layering principles, avoiding cotton, appropriate items) and packing
  • Canoeing equipment and repairs
  • Camping skills and safety (e.g., fire building and safety, campsite set up including tents and tarps, proper storage of food, water treatment, use of cooking devices and camp cooking)
  • Environmental concerns (e.g., wildlife, weather, low impact camping, poison ivy/oak)
  • The use of a compass
  • Map reading
  • The trip itinerary (route, route of the day [reviewed each morning], distances, evacuation points)
  • An adequate supply of nutritious food preserved and packed for a suitable weight to carry
  • An adequate supply of safe water for one day (the group must have a water purification method and must be made aware of water sources prior to embarking on trip)
  • Water safety for canoeing and swimming (if there will be swimming on the trip)

Students must receive instruction on safety procedures related to:

  • severe weather conditions (e.g., wind, lightning - consult Appendix F - Lightning Protocol); and
  • ways to protect themselves from environmental conditions (e.g. use of hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, personal water bottles, insect repellent, appropriate clothing).

Swim Test for Watercraft

Prior to canoe tripping, students must successfully complete the following swim test in its entirety, in sequence and without any aids or stops:

  • Rolling entry (backwards or forward) into deep water at 2.75m (9’) minimum depth
  • Tread water for 1 minute
  • Swim 50m (164’) continuously any stroke

The test must be administered by a certified aquatic instructor (the test is based on the Lifesaving Society’s Swim to Survive™ Standard).

The swim test must be completed within the school year in which the activity is taking place.

In lieu of completing the swim test, students may provide proof of Bronze Medallion certification or higher.

Results of the swim test must be documented and communicated as per school board policy (e.g., to the student, teacher, principal, parents/guardians, trip guide(s), lifeguards, aquatic instructor, and outside provider [if applicable]).

Students who do not pass the above swim test or who do not have the aforementioned certification must not participate in canoe tripping.

Canoeing Skills

Skills for the safe maneuvering of a canoe must be taught in proper progression.

Students must be instructed on the appropriate loading of the canoe, and trimming of the canoe once loaded.

Prior to canoe tripping, a prerequisite test must occur in a pool, shallow water, or sheltered bay for which students must demonstrate to the instructor competence in canoeing skills, as follow:

  • Lifts, carries and portaging (where skill is required on the trip)
  • Launching a canoe
  • Proper entry/exit from canoe
  • Positioning of paddlers and gear
  • Pivot 360 degrees in both directions
  • Draw and pry strokes
  • Sweep stroke
  • Forward and reverse stroke
  • Synchronized strokes
  • Stopping
  • Paddling forward in a straight line
  • Sideslip
  • Circles in both directions, to an approximate radius of 10 metres
  • Landings (shore and dock)
  • J-stroke, stern draw and stern pry strokes
  • Canoe over canoe rescue procedures
  • Self-rescues into dry and/or overturned or swamped canoe procedures (staying with canoe except when otherwise instructed by the trip guide)

Environmental Considerations

When environmental conditions may pose a risk to student safety (e.g. thunderstorms [lightning] or student(s) with asthma, triggered by air quality), teachers must take into consideration their school board/school’s protocols and procedures related to:

  • environmental conditions (consult Appendices F-1 to F-6: Lightning Protocol, Sample Air Quality Index, Sample Temperature, Tornado, Ultra Violet Index, and Wind Velocity Preparedness Guides]); and
  • insects (e.g., mosquitoes and ticks [consult the school/school board’s protocols and/or regional Public Health Department’s website]).

Students must receive instruction on safety procedures related to environmental conditions and be made aware of ways to protect themselves (e.g. sun burn, heat stroke).

At all times the school board’s weather and insect procedures are the minimum standards. In situations where a higher standard of care is presented (e.g., outside activity providers, facility/program coordinators), the higher standard of care must be followed.

Trip guide must:

  • be aware of and respond to changing weather and water conditions prior to and during the trip; and
  • cancel, postpone or alter the excursion if conditions put students’ safety at an elevated level of risk (e.g. wind, temperature, lightning storms, fog).

If inclement weather suddenly approaches, leave the water immediately.

Daylight canoeing only except under emergency situations.

Navigation lights (e.g., waterproof flashlight) are required if operating at night or in restricted visibility.

Supervision

Instructor Qualifications

A trip guide or instructor must have one of the following current certifications (will be updated September 1, 2019):

  • ORCKA Canoe Tripping Level 3 Trip Leader
  • Paddle Canada Advanced Tripping Skills
  • Or equivalent

As of September 1, 2019, single day trips which travel more than 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance (wilderness) require the following qualifications:

  • A trip guide or instructor must have ORCKA Basic Instructor, Paddle Canada Camp Instructor, or higher
  • A teacher, trip guide, instructor or parent/guardian/volunteer must have Wilderness Advanced First Aid
  • A trip guide or instructor must have Bronze Cross (The lifesaver with Bronze Cross Certification must be 18 years or older, and must not be registered in the course for which this trip is taking place)

As of September 1, 2019, multi-day trips which travel a distance within 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance (non-wilderness) require the following qualifications:

  • A trip guide or instructor must have ORCKA Canoe Tripping 3 or Paddle Canada Advanced Trip Leader
  • A teacher, trip guide, instructor or parent/guardian/volunteer must have Standard First Aid with CPR C
  • A trip guide or instructor must have Bronze Cross (The lifesaver with Bronze Cross Certification must be 18 years or older, and must not be registered in the course for which this trip is taking place)

As of September 1, 2019, multi-day trips which travel more than 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance (wilderness) require the following qualifications:

  • A trip guide or instructor must have ORCKA Canoe Tripping 3, or Paddle Canada Advanced Trip Leader
  • A teacher, trip guide, instructor or parent/guardian/volunteer must have Wilderness Advanced First Aid
  • A trip guide or instructor must have Bronze Cross (The lifesaver with Bronze Cross Certification must be 18 years or older, and must not be registered in the course for which this trip is taking place)

Aquatic Instructor Qualifications for the Swim Test for Watercraft

Aquatic instructors must hold one current (to be current, the date on the certificate must not be older than two years) aquatic instructor certificate. When the swim test is administered at a pool, aquatic instructors must also hold an assistant lifeguard certificate or a lifeguard certificate. If the aquatic instructor does not hold a lifeguard certificate or an assistant lifeguard certificate, a certified lifeguard must also be on deck during the aquatic instruction and/or swim test. When the swim test is administered at a waterfront, aquatic instructors must also hold a lifeguard certificate.

Aquatic Instructor Certificates for Pools and Waterfronts:

  • Canadian Red Cross - Water Safety Instructor Certificate
  • Lifesaving Society - Instructor Certificate
  • Lifesaving Society - Swim Instructor Certificate
  • YMCA - Instructor Certificate
  • Ontario Teachers Aquatic Standard (OTAS) - for pool situations only

Lifeguard Certificates for Pools:

  • Canadian Red Cross - Pool Lifeguard
  • Lifesaving Society - National Lifeguard - Pool
  • Equivalent certificate approved by Minister of Health and Long Term Care

Lifeguard Certificates for Waterfronts:

  • Canadian Red Cross – Pool/Waterfront Lifeguard
  • Lifesaving Society – National Lifeguard – Pool/Waterfront
  • Equivalent certificate approved by Minister of Health and Long Term Care

Assistant Lifeguard Certificates for Pools:

  • Canadian Red Cross - Assistant Lifeguard
  • Lifesaving Society - Bronze Cross
  • Equivalent certificate approved by Minister of Health and Long Term Care

Lifeguard certification is the only acceptable standard in a recreational camp waterfront scenario.

Verified copies of certification must be available in the pool area.

Lifeguard Qualifications

An individual over the age of 18 (e.g., teacher, instructor, trip guide, volunteer) must have a current (to be current, the date on the certificate must not be older than two years) lifeguard certificate issued by one of the following organizations:

  • Lifesaving Society – National Lifeguard – Pool/Waterfront
  • Canadian Red Cross – Pool/Waterfront Lifeguard
  • Equivalent certificate approved by Minister of Health and Long Term Care

Supervision Ratios for the Swim Test for Watercraft

Pool Swim Test:

  • If conducting the swim test at a pool, there must be a minimum of two certified aquatic instructors on deck or in the pool.
  • Supervision ratio is 2 aquatic instructors per 50 students, (with both instructors also certified as lifeguards or one lifeguard and one assistant lifeguard).
  • In situations where there are 51-75 students, an additional certified aquatic instructor is required.
  • If assistant lifeguards are used, the number of assistant lifeguards may never exceed the number of lifeguards on deck.

Waterfront Swim Test:

  • If conducting the swim test at the waterfront of a recreational camp, there must be 2 certified aquatics instructors who are also certified as lifeguards, supervising up to 25 students. When there are between 26 and 100 students in the water an additional certified lifeguard is required.

Supervision Ratios for Instructional Time

(A supervisor is a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or trip guide. This term is used only in relation to supervision ratios.)

For all overnight excursions, two adult supervisors are required as a basic minimum, one of whom must be a teacher.

Where males and females participate on an excursion, both male and female supervisors are required.

If the group is divided into two or more excursions, each excursion must have a trip guide who has the required certifications.

Personnel and qualifications required for 1-8 students:
1 supervisor and 1 trip guide, a first aid certification and a lifeguard certification. These qualifications can be fulfilled by one or more supervisors.

Personnel and qualifications required for 9-16 students when the group is travelling and camping together:
2 supervisors and 1 trip guide, a first aid certification and a lifeguard certification. These qualifications can be fulfilled by one or more supervisors.

First Aid

When on a multi-day trip travelling within 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance to arrive, at least one teacher, trip guide, instructor or supervisor must have a minimum of standard first aid course from a reputable provider (e.g., St. John Ambulance, Canadian Red Cross, Lifesaving Society).

When taking students to wilderness areas (which travel more than 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance), at least one teacher, trip guide, instructor or supervisor must have one of the following current advanced wilderness certifications:

  • WMA Wilderness Advanced First Aid
  • St. John Ambulance wilderness first Aid Level 3
  • Canadian Red Cross Advanced Wilderness and Remote First Aid
  • Equivalent to any of the above

Follow the school's first aid emergency response (consult Appendix E - Sample First Plan and Sample First Aid Emergency Response) and the school board’s concussion protocol (consult the Concussion section).

An emergency action plan and response to deal with evacuations and lock downs must be followed and communicated to students.

Also see Fundamentals of Safety section to view complete safety requirements.