Getting excited for your CPAWS experience? We are too! But before we get to the all the fun, let's review some important details about your outdoor experience.
What to Expect
Hikes are 3-5km and depending on the trail chosen, can be over either gentle or steep terrain. Programs are led by experienced, certified, interpretive guides. We offer educational activities/games throughout the hike which vary based on program selection. Visit our Youth Experiences and Professional Learning pages for program options. More trail information can be found here.
Please take the time to read through this, and our Outdoor Experiences FAQs, (coming soon). Below is important information about what to expect and how to help participants have a wonderful outdoor experience. If you still have questions, reach out!
Please note that guides reserve the right to refuse service to participants and organizers who are ill prepared for the weather, trail conditions, or are missing medication. Arriving ill prepared can put the program and participants at risk. We highly suggest using our Outdoor Experience Planning Checklist (coming soon), which will help Facilitators ensure everyone is ready for a great day outside!
CPAWS staff greet participants in the parking lot and discuss the plan for the day.
Possible Activities: ice-breaker games, landscape connection activities
Hiking & Interpretation
Possible Activities: games, nature connection activities, community science
Lunch at a scenic location
Hiking & Interpretation
Possible Activities: deer’s ears, shelter shuffle, animal game, grizzly bear survival, biodiversity count, etc.
* Please Note: The hiking schedule varies from trip to trip depending on grade, group size, weather, school arrival/departure times, and selected program focus. Please reach out if you need to arrive earlier than 10am or stay later than 2pm, to see if we are able to accommodate your schedule.
- Read this entire hiking info page (all facilitators/teachers/leaders/volunteers involved should also read this).
- Read the Outdoor Experiences FAQs (coming soon) page for more detailed information on what to expect.
- Fill out the Pre-Trip Form 2-3 weeks prior to your trip.
- Arrange Transportation – see below for more details.
- Arrange for all participants to sign CPAWS waivers (unless a Master Agreement is in place for your organization). Waivers are not required for CBE, CCSD, and RVSD schools (Master Agreements are in place).
- Ensure all participants have appropriate gear and have any necessary medication prior to departure.
- Ensure all participants who require vital/rescue medication, have it with them (inhalers, epi-pens, etc.).
- Double check for gear and medications before you travel to the trailhead. Participants that are not prepared or are missing vital medications will be asked to remain in the parking lot.
- Carry a cell phone and a first aid kit on the trip. Each group must carry these items. If you are bringing two/three groups, you must bring two/three first aid kits and phones.
- Confirm each group size is no more than 34 participants (including all facilitators/teachers/leaders/volunteers). This is in accordance with our Alberta Parks Permits. You will have one guide per group, unless otherwise arranged when booking.
- The recommended group size is 15-20 people.
- All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- Confirm size of each group is no more than 34 participants
- For Youth/Student Programs:
- Arrange adult volunteers and brief them on their responsibilities.
- Manage youth behaviour during the trip.
- Confirm adult to student ratios are met:
- 1-3: 1 adult per 8 students
- 4-6: 1 adult per 10 students
- 7-9: 1 adult per 12 students
- 10-12: 1 adult per 15 students
Facilitators in Charge must ensure EVERYONE dresses appropriately for the day and brings extra gear as the weather can change quickly. This includes:
- Appropriate footwear – runners or hiking boots.
- Rain jacket
- An extra sweater
- Hat and mitts
Weather is often different from Calgary to Kananaskis, when in doubt, plan for cooler/wetter weather in the mountains.
Please note that guides reserve the right to refuse service to adults and youth that are ill-prepared.
There are outhouses at the trailheads. There are no toilets or outhouses while hiking.
Facilitator in Charge (for youth programs) or a Parent/Guardian is responsible for youth/children who need to use the washroom during the duration of the program.
Guides will inform participants of appropriate wilderness toileting practices and locations while hiking. They will encourage all participants to use the facilities at the beginning and end of the day.
If a lack of washroom facilities poses a barrier to participation for your group, please reach out to discuss location options.
Transportation is not provided by CPAWS nor included in program cost; it must be arranged by the Facilitator in Charge.
For hikes outside of the city, the bus must remain on-site for the entire program and the bus driver must remain with the bus. This is in case of emergency. Please make this clear to your bus company. It is recommended to have a contingency vehicle in addition to the bus for emergency situations. (Required for all CBE schools)
Within the city of Calgary, we recommend ensuring your bus company will commit to picking up your group within 30 minutes in case of an emergency. If your group is travelling on foot or by public transit, please contact our staff to discuss logistics.
Where to Meet
Pre-Program Communication and Cancellation
We require a contact cell phone number and email address for each Facilitator in Charge for each date you have booked. Please ensure you provide us with this information on the Pre-Trip Form.
After receiving the Pre-Trip Form, guides will contact the Facilitator in Charge by email, 7-10 days before the program to confirm the details provided during booking and on the Pre-Trip Form. They will include important information to help plan for weather and trail conditions. Guides will provide a phone number that you can use to discuss any details, either through a phone call or via text message. Guides will update the Facilitator in Charge, 24-48hrs ahead of the trip, of any weather or trail conditions, if needed.
We ask that the Facilitator in Charge texts the guide, the morning of the program, when they are on their way to the trailhead.
Inquiries for programs can be directed to our staff at email@example.com.
As our programs are in high demand, it is our expectation that those who book programs will make every effort to maintain their bookings. If extenuating circumstances warrant cancellation of a program (like extreme weather, road closures, family emergency, etc.) we will reschedule programs rather than cancel. This may occur in a future season, if we are unable to schedule before the end of the season. We encourage all facilitators in charge to inform us of any circumstances that may prevent the delivery of a program with as much notice as possible.
Our cancellation policy is as follows:
1 month prior to booking: 85% refund – there is a 15% non-refundable deposit at time of booking.
29 to 14 days prior to booking: 50% refund
Less than 2 weeks prior to booking: no refund
CPAWS interpretive guides are certified in Wilderness First Aid and carry bear spray, a first aid kit and a satellite messenger device.
For minor medical emergencies, the Facilitator in Charge will assume the role of first responder, not CPAWS. CPAWS guides will provide guidance and assistance as necessary. For all other emergencies, CPAWS guides will assume the role of first responder, using the CPAWS emergency response procedures. The Facilitator in Charge will help manage the situation. Organizations are expected to follow their own procedures in terms of communication, accident reporting, insurance, etc.
Please be aware of the following:
All participants, no matter their age, that require an EPIPEN or INHALER must have it with them at all times. Guides have the right to refuse service to participants without their mediation. Check with each participant as they board the bus to ensure they have their medications.
Participants must be prepared for all weather conditions. Appropriate footwear, warm layers, rain jackets, sunscreen, and hats and mitts are required. Weather can be notably different from Calgary to Kananaskis. It is the Facilitator in Charge’s responsibility to ensure all participants are prepared for the weather prior to leaving.
Guides reserve the right to refuse service to participants that are ill-prepared for the day.
In the event of a change in weather conditions that impacts safety, the trip will be stopped.
Bears & Other Wildlife
We follow industry best practices to avoid negative encounters with wildlife, including having all guides carry bear spray. Additionally, the guides will give lessons on how to avoid such encounters.
To help with this, we have the group travel together and the Facilitator in Charge hikes at the back of the group.
Uneven terrain, slips & trips, and falls
All participants must have appropriate footwear.
CPAWS guides will do their best to identify and manage hazards that pose a slip, trip and/or fall hazard.
Facilitator in Charge is responsible for group behaviour.
If working with youth or others who might be a more challenging group, ensure that you make special arrangements to have extra facilitators present to assist as needed.
Participants who are exhibiting behaviour that puts participants, guides, or other trail users at risk will not be tolerated. CPAWS reserves the right to stop the program if participant behavior is jeopardizing the group or natural area.
In the spring, and during wet times, there is an increased possibility of insect bites, including mosquitoes and ticks. Insect spray (DEET based) or lotion is recommended, along with long sleeves and pants.
PLEASE ENSURE YOU FILL OUT YOUR PRE-TRIP FORM 2-3 WEEKS BEFORE YOUR FIELD TRIP. SOME GROUPS ALSO REQUIRE WAIVERS.
Adult Waiver - Waivers not required for CBE, CCSD, and RVSD schools.
Minor Waiver - Waivers not required for CBE, CCSD, and RVSD schools.
We now have waivers available to sign digitally! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss if paper or electronic waivers are the best solution for your group.
IMPORTANT: Ask everyone to use the email that was used to book the program when they sign the waiver (the teacher/facilitator email). This will automatically link the signed waiver to your booking and sends you the signed waiver to keep track of who has/hasn’t signed. If they use other email addresses, we will need a participant list to match the waivers to your booking in the back-end. If you would like to use digital waivers, please forward this link to all participants, staff, and volunteers, and ensure everyone has a waiver signed prior to the outdoor experience: