Forms Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About the Participation Agreement. 

Angeles Chapter Sign-In Sheet/WAIVER for all outings, approved for Angeles Chapter Oct. 2019. Available as PDF only: It is fillable after you download it; get the free Acrobat Reader.  This form must be used for all outings occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2020. 

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What is the Participation Agreement?

Our Participation Agreement is a legal document governing many aspects of a person’s participation in a Sierra Club activity. Among other things, participants acknowledge and take responsibility for the risks of participating, and promise not to hold the organizer responsible for injuries. There is also a medical release and an optional publicity permission. 

Why does Sierra Club use a Participation Agreement?

The Participation Agreement serves several purposes, and rolls together several forms that used to require multiple signatures. It includes, for example, an assumption of risk, liability waiver, medical consent, and photo permission (optional). While no document can prevent a lawsuit, our Participation Agreement can help protect Sierra Club, including its staff and volunteer leaders. 

Why can’t the Participation Agreement be shorter?

In response to repeated requests from staff and volunteers, we have folded into this agreement three other forms that used to be separate. Combining three forms into one makes it longer, but cuts down on overall paperwork. The Participation Agreement that the Board adopted in 2019 also reflects changes in the law. 

Why can’t we have a simpler form for things like day hikes?

Sierra Club has chosen to use a universal Participation Agreement form across the organization. Having different forms for different activities can be frustrating for volunteers, increases the risk that the wrong form will be used, and makes it harder to update things when needed. Having a single form will help the organization operate more smoothly. Keep in mind, too, that even simple activities like day hikes or bus rides can cause injuries. 

Why is publicity permission included in the form?

Publicity permission is always optional. In past years, a separate photo/video release was widely used in tandem with a waiver form, to permit photos and videos of the participants to be used. Combining the two forms addresses longstanding requests to simplify the paperwork. People who don’t want to give permission can simply make a note near their signature (for example, by writing “No Publicity”). Staff and volunteer leaders who learn that someone has not given permission must not use photos or  videos of them, or quote them, in any Sierra Club materials (including but not limited to newsletters, web pages, social media, et cetera). 

Are Participation Agreements mandatory?

Sierra Club requires Participation Agreements for many types of activities. Program Safety staff are responsible for deciding which outings, activities, and events require them. Please assume that you do need to use Participation Agreements, unless you confirm otherwise. If in doubt, ask entity leadership, Chapter Safety Chair or email It’s better to have a signed Participation Agreement and not need it, than to not have it and wish that you did. 


Activities that Require a Participation Agreement

We’ve provided a list below of activities that generally do and do not require Participation Agreements. We will update this list as we gain experience with the new form. You can also contact our Safety Chair and/or email for further guidance, or to request an exception.

Activities that almost always require Participation Agreements (subject to change): 

- Day hikes - Sierra Club Outings 

- Transporting people via private/chartered bus, boat, aircraft, or other vehicle

- Walk-a-thons, 5k runs, and the like 

- Fundraising activities with incorporated outings and activities 

- Guided activities 

- Overnight events or activities 

- Activities involving unaccompanied youth and minors 

- Large and complex group events and activities 

- Courses that include outdoor activities 

- If Sierra Club is partnering with other organization(s) on an event and want to use a single form rather separate forms for each organization, please email for assistance. 

Activities that Do NOT Require a Participation Agreement

Your entity leadership, Safety Chair or other appropriate person should review the activity and approve the decision not to use Participation Agreements. When in doubt, use the Participation Agreement, or email for guidance. 

- Regular Sierra Club meetings 

- Table or booth at a venue such as a farmer’s market or fair 

- Events open to the public like a rally or parade 

- Activities led by another responsible organization, where we are attending as supporters but are not hosting or leading any specific activities 

- Informal meetings or classes of adults indoors in a building that is made available for public use, is accessible to emergency services (e.g., is not in a remote location, and can be reached quickly by firefighters), and is connected to communications networks (e.g., has a working phone and/or internet connection) 

Questions? See Management for contacts.