Adventure Activities: Planning & Safety

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, you will review how to plan an adventure activity and prepare for safety. You will learn about the necessary equipment to take along on your adventure. We will also discuss the issues of permits and insurance, and you will learn about crucial first aid tips.

Adventure Activities

Today many athletes are going beyond the usual running races to try adventure acitivities, such as hiking or horseback riding, or even more dangerous pursuits such as whitewater rafting and mountain climbing. An adventure activity is loosely defined as one that entails risk greater than the norm, and may include difficult travel. There are many potentials dangers associated with these sports, so it is important to both plan ahead and take the necessary safety precautions.

Kayaking the Waterfalls

Know Your Sport Thoroughly

There are dozens and dozens of adventure sports, so we cannot cover them all in this one lesson. However, a good way to approach your adventure is to know your sport. The internet is full of all of the information you will need. However, be sure to consult knowledgeable sources such as the National Park Service. Second, you can talk to friends at the gym or colleagues at work who have been on similar adventures. Finally, you may want to talk to experts who are professionals in your chosen activity.


Before you even venture out, it is important that you do first things first and obtain all the proper permits. Be specific. A permit to allow rock climbing in one region may not cover hang gliding or vice-versa. For example, some states have different laws for freshwater fishing than they do for saltwater fishing. Also, federal laws are often different from state laws or even local laws. As an aside, in Virginia, there is even a mandatory fishing test that must be taken and passed. Then and only then is a license issued and the citizen can fish legally.


There are many basic issues to consider when planning a trip:

  • Route-This sounds like common sense, but it is a good idea to plan your route in advance. This will not only save on lost time if you are to lose your way, but it will also allow you to pick out sights you would like to see.
  • Weather-In today's digital age, weather by the hour is available online at the click of a mouse or on your handheld device. However, weather in areas where you might hike can change almost instantaneously. Furthermore, you never know when you may lose cellular reception.
  • Equipment-Inspect all of your items thoroughly to make sure they are all operational. In fact, it is a good idea to cover your bases by having a checklist to go through each item.
  • Leadership-In some group sports, often an alpha wolf type of leader will take charge, and the others in the group will rally around her or him. However, it is not a bad idea to appoint a leader before taking the trip. The last thing your group needs is to be out in the dangerous wilderness and have two stubborn people fighting over supremacy of the group.
  • Emergency Plans-Why wait until you are out in a thunderstorm on a mountaintop to decide what to do? It is a good idea to discuss and rehearse these plans ahead of time with your group.
  • Notifying Others of Trip Plan-Do you remember that movie where the poor guy got stuck in a rocky crevice for three days and lost his arm? Think about that. He was an incredibly experienced climber and had that incident befall him, so it can happen to anyone. Always leave not only your route information with someone, but also the time you plan to return.

Talk to the Locals

There is a waterfall in Virginia where at least twenty people have died over the years. It looks safe, but if you get too close to fill your canteen, the ground gives way and you slide down thousands of feet.

The local townspeople at the general store love visitors and will be more than happy to share with you the lay of the land, so to speak. This information can be life saving.


Nobody likes to talk about insurance and death. However, if you have loved ones at home, it is not a bad idea to check with your agent to make sure your policy covers accidental death. Some risky adventures may even require you to sign waivers or purchase insurance right on the spot.


Some of the dangers to be ready for include:

  • Lightning
  • Wild animals
  • Flash floods
  • Heat and cold extremes
  • High winds

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