Group Management

As interpretive hiking guides, we are responsible for the safety and well-being of the people we are guiding on park trails. This course covers proper pacing, risk management, trip preparation and group management techniques that will ensure the experience you provide for your guests is safe, comfortable and sets the required foundation for inspirational interpretation! This course does not teach map and compass skills and it is important that you come to the course with a minimum basic understanding of how to use a compass while on trail.

**The IGA does also teach map and compass courses, if you are interested in taking one of these courses and you do not see dates advertised please email us at info@interpretiveguides.org for more information.

The group management course is required if you want to guide hikes on trails in the Provincial and National Mountain Parks unless you have an ACMG hiking guide certificate or equivalent.

This course is taught in English, French, and Japanese every spring, fall and winter.

Prerequisites for the Group Management Course

It is expected that individuals taking this course will:

  1. Be eighteen years of age or older.

  2. Have, as a minimum, St John’s or equivalent (Red Cross) standard first aid and CPR level ‘C’. It is strongly advised that students planning to guide hiking trips gain a Wilderness First Aid course of 40hrs or more.

  3. Have completed the IGA Apprentice or Professional interpreter certification.

  4. Have a minimum of 5 days hiking experience and an interest in guiding groups in the mountains. (See below for more details on recognised hiking experience)

  5. Be competent with basic navigation skills.

More specifically, students will be expected to arrive at this course knowing how to:

a. Identify different features on a topographical map (rivers, lakes, buildings etc).

b. Identify and relate contour lines from the map to the terrain you are hiking on.

c. Determine elevation loss and gain from contour lines on a map.

d. Measure the length of a trail in meters or kilometres.

e. Give a map reference using UTM grid to show your location.

f. Take a simple compass bearing, i.e., to determine direction of a trail in poor visibility.

g. Determine the cardinal directions of the compass at any time and orientate the map to the ground.

The proficiency of participants with the above skills will be assessed on at various stages of the course but these items will not be taught. Course registrants not familiar with navigation should find books or other courses to help them learn this important skill.

Equivalencies Any applications for equivalencies must go directly to Parks Canada.

In Banff, Yoho & Kootenay, contact Indra Jasinsky at Indra.Jasinsky@pc.gc.ca In Jasper, contact Kelly Deagle: kelly.deagle@pc.gc.ca

Course Cost: $225 plus gst

Individuals who take this course can also become certified as a field leader with the Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC).

In order to get this extra certification you just need to pay the OCC membership fee, complete some extra homework and pass the OCC test. Please visit the Group Management courses and registration page to add this certification.

Terrain Guidelines for Professional Interpretive Hiking Guides & Apprentice Hiking Guides

Summer – IGA Hiking guides are permitted to lead groups on official trails for Single Day Hikes Only, as recognized by the National Parks, on non-technical terrain.

  1. Technical Terrain is regarded as traveling off a recognised trail or where a person would need to use their hands for balance i.e. on steep or rocky terrain (scrambling or mountaineering) in either a planned or unplanned situation.
  2. Within the IGA Group Management course crossing rivers (except by using an official man-made structure), glacier, permanent snow or snow patches (where a possibility of injury by slipping or falling could happen) are not subjects that are taught and therefore are regarded as technical terrain.
  3. These qualifications do not cover camping skills and it is expected that the guide and group will return to the trail-head at the end of the day. In an emergency, it would be reasonable to assume a group could be caught out overnight, so all guides should be prepared for and plan for this eventuality.
  4. The guide and group should be able to exit any remote area within four hours returning to an accessible road (accessible by vehicle) or refuge (hotel, lodge, and hostel).
  5. The IGA Hiking guide qualification does not include safety on Ocean or river shoreline where water levels can rise or fall without notice; once again this is technical terrain.

Winter- Snowshoes and Winter walks must be approved by the land manager (e.g. Parks Canada or Alberta Parks) and occur in ATES Class 1 terrain only. http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/progs/np-pn/sp-ps/sec4/sp-ps4d/EETA-ATES-3.aspx Snowshoeing, skiing or safe ice travel are skills that are not taught on the IGA group management course program. These are technical skills that require further training; however if an IGA guide has these skills from another certification program, these are a list of IGA recommendations for safe winter travel: 1. Hike only on Non-Track set (for nordic skiers), designated park trails or parts thereof located in simple terrain as defined by the ATES scale. 2. Guides leading winter hikes and snowshoeing groups must be familiar with the Parks Avalanche Terrain Exposure scale and the Canadian Avalanche Centre Danger scale. 3. The guide must use Avalanche terrain ratings and daily avalanche bulletins together for evaluating hazards and managing group risk in the backcountry. 4. Within the IGA group management course, the crossing of frozen bodies of water i.e. lakes, rivers, streams (unless they use a permanent man-made structure, vehicle bridge, foot bridge specifically for that purpose) is not taught. Therefore frozen bodies of water are regarded as technical terrain outside the experience of the IGA day hiking guide and are to be avoided.

***PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL INDIVIDUALS WHO TAKE THIS COURSE MUST HAVE A MEMBERSHIP WITH THE IGA OR NEED TO PAY THEIR YEARLY MEMBER DUES IN ORDER TO BE IN GOOD STANDING WITH THIS ACCREDITATION. A MEMBERSHIP IS INCLUDED WITH THE COST OF THE APPRENTICE INTERPRETER COURSE SO IF YOU ARE TAKING THAT COURSE AS WELL YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY THE EXTRA IGA MEMBERSHIP FEES.

Cancellation & Refund Policy Please read our Cancellation & Refund Policy if you are planning to sign up for this course. If you cancel three weeks before the course starting date, you will receive a full refund minus a $30 administration fee. If you cancel two weeks before the course starting date, you will receive a 50 percent refund minus a $30 administration fee. If you cancel with less than 2 weeks notice no refund will be issued.

If the Interpretive Guides Association has to cancel a course due to low numbers, you will have the choice of being given a full refund or transferring your registration for another course.