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Toronto Outdoor Club - Volunteer FAQ

  1. What do TOC volunteers do?
  2. That’s a lot of work. Do volunteers get paid or other perks?
  3. Do I need a lot of qualifications to be a volunteer?
  4. Can anyone be my sponsor?
  5. What does a sponsor do?
  6. I found a willing sponsor, but we can’t find a date that works for my first event
  7. I want to volunteer but I have absolutely no idea what to do
  8. I want to be a volunteer, but I don’t own a car
  9. If you don’t care about my credentials then I can post anything I like, right?
  10. I’m ready to be a volunteer! What’s my next step?
  11. What is expected of me once I become a volunteer?
  12. So once I’ve been sponsored, am I on my own?

  13. What do TOC volunteers do?

    The majority of volunteers in the TOC are “event coordinators.” They plan events and post them on the website, take care of the administrative functions (attendance, waivers, donations, carpool arrangements, etc.), lead the event and do the follow up admin (write-ups, waivers, posting photographs, etc.) when the event is finished.

    However, there are other administrative/leadership duties and roles that are available to those interested in helping out in addition to or in place of event coordination. If you are interested in pursuing an “administrative track” only, we ask that you commit to working – on average – 3 hours per month or more on such tasks. These roles include assistant webmaster, photo historian, membership in a committee, etc.

    Many volunteers have more than one role. Without volunteers stepping up to help with running events and our administration work, we wouldn’t be able to function as smoothly and as efficiently as we do, especially with the number of members we have. This is an important contribution that you can make!

  14. That’s a lot of work. Do volunteers get paid or other perks?

    Volunteers get absolutely no financial compensation for the work they do for the club.

    However they are definitely benefits to being a volunteer – you can plan the events you want to do in the time frame that is available to you, and be practically guaranteed that there will be people who will come with you.

    Many people become volunteers because they like to give back to the community, because the TOC has helped them and they want to help others, because they want to promote their love of the outdoors with others, because they want to meet people and share experiences. And because it’s FUN!

    Additionally, the opportunities to develop your leadership and teamwork skills through volunteering with the TOC can help you in your life and career. It certainly looks good on your resume!

  15. Do I need a lot of qualifications to be a volunteer?

    The TOC has only two qualifications in order for you to be a volunteer – you must be an “active” member, and, if you pursue the event coordination track, you must have a sponsor.

    By active member we mean that you have attended at least two “outdoor” activities in the last three months. Hikes, bike events, urban hikes, camping, bird watching – anything but dinners, movies and social events.

    Finding a sponsor means approaching a current volunteer and getting them to support you in your first event. All volunteers are willing sponsors, but they are only willing for those members that show themselves as understanding the TOC philosophy. You may have many outdoor qualifications, but we also consider things like: Are you friendly and outgoing? Are you responsible and reasonably organized? Do you have some great ideas that excite and inspire others? This is the TOC volunteer.

    If you want to lead events that are more challenging, you will need to approach a sponsor that has that kind of experience. A volunteer who only leads gentle day hikes would not be an appropriate sponsor if you plan on doing backcountry overnight hikes.

  16. Can anyone be my sponsor?

    Any volunteer in good standing can sponsor a candidate, but with two exceptions:

    If there is a relationship between the two individuals which obviously undermines the objectivity of the sponsor. For example, a volunteer should not sponsor her boyfriend, husband, adult child, etc.;

    The sponsor should have run at least 4 events in the past calendar year.

  17. What does a sponsor do?

    A sponsor assists you in running your first event(s) and assesses your readiness to run events by yourself. He will not run the event for you, generally, because we need to know that you can do it on your own. However, if you’re uncertain about something, or forget something, he is there to help you learn as well as to ensure that the event runs smoothly.

    The sponsor is responsible to provide honest feedback to the volunteer coordinators regarding your readiness as a volunteer. For example, he may suggest that you run another event with him or another sponsor, just to reinforce your understanding of our TOC processes.

  18. I found a willing sponsor, but we can’t find a date that works for my first event

    We try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to volunteering. Sponsors are important, but so is getting your events on the calendar. In the past, depending on the event, we have asked another volunteer to act as a sponsor at your first event and you may never have met them before. We consider ourselves to be a tight team so if one person is willing to take a stand for you as a volunteer, we should be able to replace that volunteer with anyone else and still achieve the same results.

    In some cases we have allowed events to go with new volunteers on their own. Again, it’s a case by case basis which will depend on the circumstances. We want volunteers so we are going to be as accommodating as we possibly can.

  19. I want to volunteer but I have absolutely no idea what to do

    Easy answer! Our volunteer team has done so many trips that we have a huge pool of activities to suggest to you, from urban hikes, to easy day hikes to great car camping trips. You can also check out our online forum at (http://toc.rezgeek.com). There is no limit to the kinds of activities you can put on the calendar and we’ll help you find something that is appropriate for your level of activity and experience.

  20. I want to be a volunteer, but I don’t own a car

    Not a problem whatsoever!!! There are lots of great activities that we would like to put on within the city (urban hikes and bike rides are always popular). Also, with carpools, participants in your events can bring their vehicles. Often there are waiting lists for events, and you can add drivers to the event ahead of non-drivers if you need that extra car.

    (Note: If you’re really set on driving, you can investigate options like car rentals, or car-sharing through companies like ZipCar.)

  21. If you don’t care about my credentials then I can post anything I like, right?

    The TOC is a club run by the members for other members. In theory, the above is true. We are not going to limit your imagination as to what kind of activities you want to do. Our philosophy is if there is a demand for it, then go for it! You build it, hopefully they’ll come…

    However there are reality checks and restrictions that we look out for. Some of these are:

    When planning an overnight trip you must have it approved by the Safety Team Lead. This will constitute reviewing your trip itinerary and your first aid/emergency know how. We’ll make sure there are no loose ends and it’s a great confidence builder. All volunteers will have their backcountry trips reviewed. We do not recommend that a new volunteer’s first event be an overnight trip, simply because it’s a lot of work and administration to take on for your first event.

    Paid events – all costs MUST be accounted for. You must give a detailed breakdown of any costs rather than a pay one price. You will be asked for receipts by the treasurer in order to collect your refund.

    Paid events – must be paid up front by you, or by the amount that is already collected. The TOC will not cover for tickets not bought, you are responsible for covering any additional costs not covered from your own pocket

    High risk events such as horseback riding, skydiving, whitewater rafting or kayaking, climbing will only be approved if there is a qualified guide (i.e. insured) leading the event.

    The TOC waiver does not cover personal liability. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are not taking extra risks and setting yourself up for negligence.

    Exclusive events – any activity that excludes members for reasons other than experience, such as ‘girls only’, ‘over 40’s’, ‘members with 10+ events’ will not be approved. However, you do have the ability to restrict members as far as experience, fitness ability (i.e. slowpokes only), and certification (must have passed belaying test) as these are not discriminatory and are important to safety. You can post events that may have a particular gender bias (i.e., hike & spa, belly dancing class) but if a guy wants to join, there is no reason why not.

  22. I’m ready to be a volunteer! What’s my next step?

    If you have the initial qualifications, which is two outdoor events and you have a sponsor, then all you need to do is contact the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@torontooutdoorclub.com with the following information: name of sponsor (preferably cc’d on the email), detailed description of your event (where, what, when, how, etc) and the date that you have agreed on with your sponsor. If you don’t have a sponsor, or you can’t find someone who will do your event on the date you need, contact us with all the details and we’ll try to find someone to help you.

    Once that is in place, we’ll set you up with a volunteer account on the website and email you with the link to our coordinator manual. We will then ask you to set up an account on the TOC forum and email the forum admin to get access to the volunteer section. Then you’ll have to follow up with a bio and a picture for the volunteer page. If you don’t, we’ll get someone to do that for you and it won’t be pretty!

    The manual gives step by step instructions on how to create your first event. You get to write it, post it and monitor all the sign ups, with your sponsor acting as a backup in case you miss something.

  23. What is expected of me once I become a volunteer?

    First and foremost, we expect you to continue having fun. Only put events on the calendar that you want to do and create them in a way that ensures that you continue to enjoy them. If you only like small groups, don’t set up an event for 40 people.

    At the minimum we require you to run one outdoor/active event every quarter. That’s only four events per year!

    Attend one of our volunteer meetings each quarter (you will have a choice of three possible dates each quarter).

    While attendance is not mandatory, we ask that you also attend three other events throughout the year: the TOC Picnic, the Annual General Meeting, and the volunteer conference. Dates will be announced well in advance.

    Finally, as you gain experience, we ask that you offer to sponsor other new volunteers and show them the ropes.

  24. So once I’ve been sponsored, am I on my own?

    The leadership team is continually working to keep our volunteers safe, happy and willing to put more events on the calendar. If you have any concerns – personal issues, something happened on an event, questions about policy, or how to proceed in situations – our lead team is there to support you. We even have an ombudsman to mediate when things get sticky! Our purpose as the leadership team is not only to make the club run smoothly for members, but to help volunteers become leaders and inspire other members to volunteer.

    You can always e-mail the volunteer coordinators at volunteer@torontooutdoorclub.com, or the ombudsman at ombudsman@torontooutdoorclub.com. Alternatively, check out the TOC forum (http://toc.rezgeek.com) to check out the discussions or to start a new one – it’s a great way to benefit from lessons already learned by someone else.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with the Toronto Outdoor Club. If you have any questions about this FAQ or volunteering in general, please e-mail the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@torontooutdoorclub.com.




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