Rules of Conduct

Safe Space Agreement 

Sierra Club's Outings Programs insist on a safe space agreement among participants, leaders, volunteers, and staff. We want to support everyone in exploring, enjoying, and protecting these phenomenal spaces, and hateful and dangerous behavior will not be tolerated. We don't want to deny participation in these outdoor programs and we will always say no to racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, impairment, and disruption. The Sierra Club's recently adopted Equal Opportunity Policy and Affirmative Standards of Conduct more firmly align with the Mission and Core Values grounded in equity and inclusion: Antiracism, Balance, Collaboration, Justice and Transformation.

Sierra Club Outings does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. The August 2022 Leader's Reference Book (LRB, see Chapter 3 "Defined Behaviors") contains a longer definition of harassment.  

Rules of Conduct on Outings and Events

The version below is from 2008 with a few updates added.  A review of these rules is underway. The Chapter Executive Committee (Excomm) has delegated to the Outings Management Committee (OMC) the establishment, review, and modification of the Outings Rules of Conduct. When modifications are made, OMC is to communicate such changes to the Chapter Excomm. You can download the annotated file or read here on this page.

The following rules apply to all persons participating in outings activities of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club. Violation of these rules may result in removal of a participant from a particular outing and/or revocation of the privilege to participate in future outings.

Authority of the Leader: The authority of an outing leader is nearly absolute. The outing leader is the sole judge of the qualifications of participants. Participants must comply with the orders and instructions of the outing leader. Note: the wording on this will change as we make a greater effort to ensure that a participant will have a clear enough understanding of the outing from the write-up and be able to determine their own suitability to avoid misunderstandings and exclusion . 

Eligibility to Participate: Most Angeles Chapter outings are open to both Sierra Club members and nonmembers. Eligibility restrictions, if any, should be stated in the trip write-up. Sponsoring entity themes should be regarded as a clue to the ambiance to be expected rather than a restriction on participation. For example, you don’t have to live in the San Fernando Valley to go on an outing sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Group. 

Qualification to Participate: Trip announcements typically give information about the physical challenge involved (distance and elevation gain) and the skills, equipment and experience required for successful participation. Some trips require prospective participants to provide information about their conditioning and experience to the leader for screening in advance of the trip. Other trips may simply ask participants to screen (evaluate) themselves before showing up at the trailhead. In either case, you should be honest with the leader or yourself. If you participate in a trip for which you are really not qualified, you won’t enjoy the experience and you may make the experience less enjoyable for other participants. Leaders should give good faith consideration to accommodations requested by potential participants who are disabled.

Minors: For non-ICO (Inspiring Connections Outdoors): Participants under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Rules on Minors on non-ICO outings are evolving. 

Liability Waiver (Participation Agreement as of 2020): All participants are required to sign a liability waiver. This is an important legal document which limits your right to sue the Club or its leaders in the event of injury on an outing. Your participation in an outing is a voluntary recreational activity. If you are not willing to sign a waiver, you need to find some other recreational activity.

Travel Procedures: Participants are to remain with the group unless the leader gives permission to leave , adhere to routes designated by the leader, refrain from "short cutting" switchbacks on trails, and remain behind the leader and ahead of the trail sweep.

Leave No Trace: The Sierra Club supports leave no trace principles, including minimizing the environmental impact of travel and camping, disposing of waste properly or packing it out, leaving natural objects as you find them, using stoves for cooking, limiting campfires to a single small campfire where permitted, respecting wildlife, storing food and garbage securely and being courteous to other visitors.

Compliance with Laws and Regulations: Sierra Club outings are conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including requirements for entry permits, campfire restrictions, campsite location restrictions, waste handling rules, parking restrictions, etc. Rangers and other law enforcement personnel are to be treated with respect.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment of Club members, volunteers or others who participate in Club-sponsored activities is prohibited. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual suggestions, physical contact, offensive sexual language or images, or use of club contact information to make unwelcome sexual suggestions outside of Club activities. Please see our LRB page with links to recent standards and policies.

Animals: Animals (other than guide dogs) are prohibited unless a specific announcement that animals are allowed is included in the trip write-up. The leader may permit a disabled participant to bring a guide dog as long as the group safety isn't jeopardized or local land agency rules or regulations are not violated.

Firearms: Always prohibited.

Cell Phones: Both leaders and participants are encouraged (but not required) to carry cell phones because they may be a useful resource in an emergency. Inappropriate or excessive use of cell phones for non-emergency communications can be annoying to participants. Outing leaders therefore have the authority to restrict or regulate the use of cell phones.

Hand-held Transceivers: May be carried but used only if permitted by the leader and subject to further leader restrictions.

Radios and Sound Listening Devices: May always be used at camp if equipped with earphones for private listening. On the trail or when climbing, use may be restricted or prohibited by the leader in the interest of safety.

GPS Receivers: Generally permitted, with the sole exception of navigation checkouts, where evaluators may prohibit use or possession in order to test a candidate’s skill at non-electronic navigation techniques.

Hiking Poles: Permitted unless the trip announcement indicates that hiking poles are not permitted. Even when permitted, leaders have the authority to require safe practices in use of hiking poles and restrict their use when appropriate for safety reasons.

Bike Helmets: Participants and leaders must wear appropriate safety helmets while riding on a bicycle outing.

Technical Climbing Gear: In general, gear such as ropes, ice axes, or crampons is appropriate only on approved Restricted Mountaineering Trips. There is no prohibition against outings participants bringing along whatever mountaineering or safety equipment they may choose to bring on an outing for their own personal safety. However, the use of technical climbing gear should be restricted to avoiding unanticipated hazards only, not to be used for mountaineering that is not part of the structured outing.

Sierra Club Forms

Forms for outings include waivers, both individual and group “sign-in sheets,” minor release forms, safety management plans, individual medical forms, provisional evaluations, emergency response - patient forms, incident reports, and more. The forms are easily accessed on the LTC website on the Forms page.

Incident Reporting

An Incident Report must be filed whenever an accident or incident occurs on a Sierra Club sponsored activity. Use the approved e-form available on the LTC web site or as advised by the Safety Committee. Make the report as soon as possible after the event even if it is unlikely that the Sierra Club may have a liability for the incident.

Handling Complaints

Leader candidates, rated leaders, and outings participants may choose to voice questions, concerns, or complaints pertaining to outings and outings leaders. In such circumstances, several alternatives exist.

  • If the complaint arises because of a technical checkoff (navigation, rock, or snow), the complaint should be made to the appropriate technical chair or chair of the LTC.
  • If the complaint arises on non-training outings, it should be addressed to the chair of the Angeles Chapter Safety Committee if it is an issue related to the safe conduct of outings.
  • If safety is not the primary issue, then the complaint should be addressed to the ombudsperson/member advocate of the Angeles Chapter Outings Management Committee. Contact:

Standing Rules SR 2.2.6 Standards of Conduct as of 2021.  A 2022 edition is now available.

The August 2022 Leader's Reference Book (LRB, see Chapter 3 "Handling Conflicts and Complaints") provides additional information.

Risk Management and Handling Emergencies

Group Management can be a breezy walk in the park for many of the trips we lead. But even a simple shoreline stroll involves some risk that a leader may have to deal with. Having thought some of this through ahead of time will help so that in the fog of the moment, there is a plan and one that has been shared with the other leader and with the Outings Chair back home. The August 2022 Leader's Reference Book (LRB, Chapter 4E "Risk Management and Emergencies") and Addressing Issues Handout have additional information that covers risk management, hazards, and handling emergencies during the outing.