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American Hiking Society

AHS Crew Leader Training

The American Hiking Society developed the Crew Leader training program in order to expand its Volunteer Vacations program. It has become increasingly apparent that the thinly-stretched public agencies do not have sufficient on-site staff to supervise volunteers who want to work on trails— even where the agencies themselves have identified critical maintenance and repair work. Trained volunteers are NOT intended to replace agency staff, but to help address agency shortfalls and help public land managers fulfill their responsibility to the recreating public.

The AHS Volunteer Vacation Trail crews typically are teams of 8 to 12 volunteers from across the nation. They renovate existing trails and build new ones; learn new skills and make new friends; and they give back to the trails and have a great time. In one typical year, AHS Volunteer Vacations performed:

  • 88 projects in 29 states working with BLM, NPS, FS, AHS Alliance clubs, Army Corps of Engineers, State Parks
  • Had 586 volunteers who volunteered 23,440 valued at an estimated $300,969.90
  • Worked on trails in Denali NP, Haleakala NP, Arizona Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Florida Trail, King Range, Boundary Waters, and the Cumberland Trail.

In 2001 focused on technical trail skills and leadership, and in 2002 and 2003 AHS shifted their focus to leadership and logistical skills because feedback indicated that future training could best serve hosts' needs by emphasizing the logistical aspects or running a smooth trip and how to be a good leader. While technical trail skills are important, volunteers trained to assist with the complex preparation and organization that goes into planning and running a trip would save the agency/host personnel considerable time and energy, making volunteer crews more appealing and accessible to land managers.

AHS has found that trained project leaders can enhance your volunteer programs to help create more organized, focused work trips, making the trips not only more efficient but also more fun, resulting in volunteers who return again and again. Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado define the crew leader is "the link between the people with the vision of the project and the people that can make that vision appear." Qualities of good crew leaders are those who have people skills that can manage emotions and relationships, and they motivate and enable the crews. Leadership is about: listening, caring, engaging, praising and encouragement. AHS follows the I.C.A.R.E. Model.

Crew Leader Manual

AHS has just published its Crew Leader Manual focusing on leadership and logistical skills. The manual addresses:

  • Pre-trip responsibilities, communications with host & crew
  • Meals, planning, camp chores, etc.
  • Arrival & Orientation
  • Welcome/introductions, Overview, Tool Safety, Logistics, LNT, etc.
  • Responsibilities during and after the trip

This manual can be ordered online at:

The National Trails Training Partnership
American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797(530) 605-4395Fax: (530)

The National Trails Training Partnership is an alliance of Federal agencies, training providers, nationwide supporters, and providers of products and services. Visit the online calendar of training opportunities, access hundreds of trail-related resources, read the news, learn how you can help, and see training resources in your state.

This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Cooperative Agreement DTFH61-06-H-00023. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.

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