Essential Eligibility Criteria
Deer Hill's Mission
Our purpose is to enhance an individual's appreciation of the natural world, teach the skills of living in the wilderness with minimum impact, promote stewardship of our Earth, and foster a tradition of service to native lands and peoples. We provide a challenging atmosphere in which young people can be integral members of a small community and grow as individuals.
What does it take to succeed at Deer Hill Expeditions?
A thirst for adventure, excitement to try new things and see new places, a desire to further a healthy sense of self-confidence and to learn more about who you are and what you are capable of achieving. We are looking for participants who are in good health, physically and emotionally, are socially responsible and have an interest in being a part of a supportive community.
Deer Hill is not wilderness therapy; while a little nervousness or apprehension is natural, we are not an appropriate choice for individuals dealing with behavioral, motivational, or rehabilitation issues.
Please read through the following list of essential eligibility requirements ("EEC"). These requirements are not intended to be exclusionary, but to honestly identify the basic and fundamental elements of participation - integrally tied to safety and risk management considerations.
These EEC do not encompass all criteria for participation in a Deer Hill expeditions ("DHE") program. As detailed in our Terms of Agreement, an applicant's final enrollment and participation in a DHE program is conditioned on, among other things, DHE's receipt of full payment and receipt and review of all completed and signed forms. In addition and importantly, these EEC are intended to be helpful and constructive for all participants who are considering attending our programs. However, these EEC are only intended to give an overall 'snapshot' of EEC for DHE activities and do not encompass every criteria or function of the various activities you may encounter on a given program.
If you have any questions or concerns about the applicant's ability to meet the criteria, please call the Deer Hill office. We would be happy to answer your questions and give you more details about the demands of Deer Hill in general, and details regarding specific programs.
I. EEC - Applies generally to all DHE activities and programs
All participants must:
A. Come with an open mind and willingness to try new things;
B. Maintain a positive attitude, even when challenged physically, mentally, or emotionally;
C. Learn and practice Leave No Trace camping and travel techniques
D. Display tolerance, respect and compassion towards all;
E. Be in good general health and physical condition;
F. Be willing and able to follow rules and obey authority figures (such as DHE leaders)
G. Understand and follow instructions given to you, individually, or the group, including directives regarding hazards/risks;
H. Have the ability to perceive hazards/risks and respond to instructions regarding hazards/risks such as steep cliffs or loose rock;
I. Effectively communicate with or to other participants or leaders regarding potential hazards/risks, personal distress, injury, or need for assistance up to a distance of 50 meters, where darkness, high wind or other factors may impede communication;
J. Act reliably and responsibly around hazards/risks even when not directly supervised;
K. Perform necessary self-care in a remote and outdoor environment, including personal hygiene, adequate hydration, dressing appropriately for weather conditions and responsibility for and organization of personal gear;
L. Lift and carry weight, including personal or group belongings, gear or provisions;
M. Competently navigate a variety of uneven and challenging terrain. This includes but is not limited to: traveling on and off-trail, sometimes in steep and difficult terrain in the mountains, desert or other remote outdoor environments, often carrying weight;
N. Remain alert and focused for several hours at a time while traveling through wilderness, desert or other remote terrain;
O. Tolerate being outdoors for multiple days in all types of weather, at varying elevations from 7,000 to 14,000 ft., with a variety of stimuli, including bugs, extreme temperature changes, intense sunlight, wind, storms and wildlife;
P. Tolerate being several hours or up to a day away from medical facilities;
Q. Tolerate changes in diet, group living, long days filled with mentally and physically challenging activities, and a routine that is likely much different than your routine at home;
R. Learn skills and engage in tasks to support yourself and the group including those necessary for living in remote areas. This includes, but is not limited to: cooking, setting up and taking down camp, washing dishes, caring for group gear, packing dry bags and backpacks, rigging boats and camp site clean-up;
S. Interact responsibly in a group and support a team approach, understanding that every participant shares in the responsibility for their own well-being and the well-being of the group;
T. In alignment with the DHE mission, support a physically, emotionally and mentally healthy learning environment for all;
U. Work effectively as a member of an expedition team. This includes taking personal responsibility for your belongings and behavior, effectively communicating ideas and concerns on an individual and group level, accepting differences, and possessing a willingness to put the needs of the group before those of the individual;
V. Respond appropriately in the face of unexpected challenges such as inclement weather, changes in itinerary, unfamiliar surroundings, and homesickness;
II. EEC for participation in specific DHE activities (in addition to the General EEC above);
A. Whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking
1. Meet all of the General EEC, listed above, in addition to those listed here;
2. Be able to swim or be comfortable in the water, including fast moving water, while wearing a personal flotation device (PFD);
3. Wear all protective gear recommended or required;
4. Be able to respond to verbal and/or visual signals;
5. Enter and exit a wet or dry watercraft independently;
6. In the event of a capsize or fall out of the watercraft, you must be able to remain calm, follow instructions and independently: get out from under the watercraft, remain face up in the water, endeavor to make progress to the shoreline or another boat and be able to perform self-rescue or cooperate with assisted rescue;
7. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.
B. Rock Climbing
1. Meet all of the General EEC, listed above, in addition to those listed here and under II.C., below for hiking/backpacking;
2. Wear all recommended/required gear;
3. Be able to respond to verbal and/or visual signals;
4. Grip a rope firmly, grasp the rock face, and negotiate upwards on a climb;
5. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.
C. Hiking, backpacking and mountaineering
1. Meet all of the General EEC, listed above, in addition to those listed here;
2. Carry 10-25 pounds daily for day hiking and 40-60 pounds daily for backpacking, for outdoor/wilderness trips ranging from several days to several weeks, depending upon the program;
3. Consistent with I.M. above, competenly and independently navigate a variety of uneven and challenging outdoor/wilderness terrain with travel distances ranging from 1-10 miles per day for several days or several weeks, depending upon the program, that may involve ascents of mountain peaks up to 14,000 feet in elevation;
4. Negotiate stream crossings with a group, where fast moving water and slippery or loose rocks are present;
5. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.
D. Mountain Biking
1. Meet all of the General EEC, listed above in addition to those listed here;
2. Pedal, steer, stop and negotiate a mountain bike;
3. Wear all recommended/required gear;
4. Be able to respond to verbal and/or visual signals;
5. Travel competently and independently on a bicycle over a variety of uneven and challenging outdoor/wilderness terrain, with travel distances ranging from 1 - 10 miles per day;
6. Posess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.
E. Service Learning Projects
1. Meet all of the General EEC, listed above, in addition to those listed here;
2. Be open and willing to interact with new and unfamiliar cultures;
3. Engage in service learning projects (for example: building, digging, lifting, painting, construction and clean-up), for 6-8 hours per day with tools such as shovels, axes and hoes;
4. Posess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.
I understand I must complete the information in the online signing process to electronically accept and sign the Deer Hill Expeditions, Inc.: Essential Eligibility Criteriaoutlined above, or print out and sign a paper version. Signing the Deer Hill Expeditions, Inc.: Essential Eligibility Criteria indicates an understanding and agreement to compliance with this criteria for participation in a program. Minor participants are also asked to sign, to reflect their understanding of these criteria.
Acknowledgment and Assumption of Risk
Please read this brief message to familiarize yourself with our Risk Management practices. You will need to e-sign below, acknowledging that you have read it, in order to participate in this expedition.
Risk Management Practices at Deer Hill Expeditions (DHE) and the Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risks & Release and Indemnity Agreement (“Agreement”)
DEAR PARTICIPANT AND PARENT/S,
When we founded DHE in 1984, with the dream of creating fun and expansive adventures in wilderness and service for young people, we could not have anticipated how complex the world of risk management and liability would become for programs like ours. Before you dive into this realm, and review and sign the Agreement that follows, we want you to know that after 30 years we remain deeply connected to all aspects of our DHE expeditions and committed to honest and open communication with you. DHE’s safety record is excellent. Of the thousands of young people DHE has taken on extended expeditions into the wilderness since 1984, not one has had an injury that resulted in an overnight stay in a hospital or long-term complications. In addition, in 2001 DHE sought accreditation with the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), an international leader in the field of Outdoor Programming and Risk Management. Since then DHE has been re-evaluated and renewed each year. Although no program can guarantee safety, and likewise, accreditation is not a guarantee of safety, DHE AEE accreditation is evidence of the priority DHE places on its programs and on its on-going attention to risk management practices. A few things about the attached Agreement: The “ Acknowledgment and Assumption of Risks” section of the Agreement identifies some of the activities and inherent and other risks that participants may or will be exposed to, and possible outcomes. Recreation and adventure activities include inherent risks; indeed, risks which are central to adventure. With inherent risks can come the education, confidence, resourcefulness and independence participants learn as they spend time together and in the backcountry. Other risks, not inherent, also exist. In the Agreement, participants and parents of minor participants acknowledge and assume these risks. The “Release and Indemnity” section of the Agreement releases and indemnifies DHE from certain claims made against it, including those based upon negligence. Deer Hill does not seek this protection with regard to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. DHE seeks this protection because of the litigious climate existing in our society today – circumstances that neither you, nor DHE created.
DHE cannot eliminate risk, but does endeavor to manage risks in its programs, as illustrated by a few examples, below:
- Hiring leaders DHE trains in the same rivers, canyons, and mountains where DHE programs take place.
- Guiding DHE participants into backcountry areas of the Colorado Plateau, the region where DHE has traveled for over a 30 year period.
- Using DHE guides and equipment for each activity, rather than relying on subcontracted outfitters whose risk management approach is not overseen by DHE.
- For our Costa Rica programs, partnering with Exploradores Outdoors (OE), a trusted outfitter, for over 10 years. In addition to OE providing logistical support, DHE leaders combine their skills with those of OE’s local guides to provide the same quality and safe programming that we do here in the American Southwest.
- Developing, evaluating and updating DHE risk management policies.
- Teaching participants that in an expedition team, each individual shares in the responsibility for their own well-being and the well-being of others in the group.
- Ongoing Accreditation and regular review by AEE.
Our leaders are trained in wilderness first aid, search and rescue, and emergency management. Participants, for their part, must come to us prepared to listen, to follow instructions, and to take responsibility for their own well-being. We offer this information to you openly and willingly. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about our program or the Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risks & Release Indemnity Agreement, we would be happy to speak with you.
Doug and Beverly Capelin Founders and Owners
Please read this entire Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risks & Release and Indemnity Agreement (hereafter, “Document”) carefully before signing. This Document informs you about your responsibilities and assumption of risks, and includes a release of liability, indemnification and surrender of certain legal rights. The participant must sign this Document. For participants under 18 years of age (hereafter sometimes ”minor” or ”child”), one or both parent/s or guardian/s (hereafter collectively “‘parent/s”) must also sign.
In consideration of the services of Deer Hill, Inc., dba Deer Hill Expeditions, and its owners, officers, employees, agents, representatives, volunteers (including consulting physicians), independent contractors and all other persons or entities associated with it (individually and collectively referred to in this Document as ”DHE”), in allowing participant to participate, I (participant and parent/s of a minor participant), acknowledge and agree as follows:
ACTIVITIES, RISKS AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND ASSUMPTION OF RISKS
Participating in DHE educational, instructional, recreation and/or adventure activities includes risks. Activities can take place in Colorado or in other locations in the U.S. or foreign countries and can include, but may not be limited to: hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, route-finding, camping, whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, swimming, mountain biking, participation in service learning projects, homestays, interactive games and other sporting activities; socializing; use of any equipment, facilities or premise and transportation in vans, planes, boats, buses and/or other vehicles (collectively referred to in this Document as ”activities”). These activities may be organized or led by DHE staff or contractors and be scheduled or unscheduled, mandatory or optional, supervised or unsupervised and include free time, I (and my parent/s, if I am a minor) acknowledge that the inherent and other risks, hazards and dangers (collectively referred to in this Document as “risks”) of these activities can cause injury, damage, death or other loss to participant or others. Parent/s of minors give permission for their child to participate in all DHE activities and agree to discuss the nature of these activities and risks with their child. The following describes some, but not all of those risks, as applicable to participant’s activities:
Risks present in an outdoor or wilderness environment.
These risks include travel in high altitude, mountainous or wilderness terrain both on and off trail and on land or water. Participants’ travel may be subject to storms, including lightning, strong winds, rain or snow; fast moving rivers or other water bodies; difficult stream crossings, currents or whitewater; extremely hot or cold weather or cold water; falling rocks; fallen or falling timber; stinging, venomous and/or disease carrying animals or insects; poisonous plants; aggressive wildlife and other natural or man-made hazards. Hazards (both on land and above and below water level) may not be marked or visible and weather can be unpredictable year around.
Risks associated with travel outside the U.S.
Travel can involve unique risks, such as political unrest, terrorism or warfare, contact with unusual diseases or bacteria, exposure to contaminated food or water, dangerous road or travel conditions, thievery, abduction and other risks. Participants may be subject to laws and legal systems in foreign countries that do not provide the same protections as the U.S. legal system. NOTE: Although DHE considers current geo-political climates in choosing program locations, DHE personnel are not experts in assessing the likelihood of terrorist activity, political unrest, the need for vaccinations or other issues. Parent/s are responsible for conducting their own independent investigation through the U.S. State Department, Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization or other sources, should they have concerns about program locations.
Risks involved in judgment and decision-making.
These risks include the risk that the participant or a co-participant, DHE staff member, representative, volunteer or other person may misjudge the participant’s (or others) capabilities, health or physical condition, or misjudge some aspect of instruction, medical treatment, weather, terrain, water level, or, river and/or terrain route location.
Personal health and participation risks.
The risk that participant’s mental, physical or emotional condition (including any use or abuse of alcohol or prescription or non-prescription drugs), whether disclosed or undisclosed, known or unknown, combined with participation in these activities could result in injury, damage, death or other loss. Although DHE personnel may have reviewed participant’s medical information and allowed participant to participate, DHE cannot anticipate or eliminate risks or complications posed by participant’s mental, physical (including fitness level) or emotional condition.
Whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing risks.
These risks include potential water obstacles or hazards such as rapids, boulders, trees, fences, waterfalls, holes, reversals; the risk of slipping on wet rocks; falling overboard; impacting the lake or river bottom; being swept into a river current or experiencing a boat capsize or collision.
Risks associated with any outdoor or athletic activity.
These risks include the risk that a participant may overestimate their abilities or fitness; be inattentive; lose control and trip or fall (from a bike or otherwise) and/or collide with, for example, others, the ground, rocks, cactus, trees or encounter other animal/water/terrain/road/trail hazards; misuse, or not understand the functioning of a bike or other equipment; not understand the effects of uneven, rough terrain on the handling of a bike or other equipment; not control his/her speed;; fall over cliffs; fail to negotiate steep or difficult terrain or experience equipment malfunction.
Service learning project risks.
Participating in service learning projects can include risks associated with activities such as building, digging, lifting, painting, construction and clean-up projects. Projects may include the use of tools and equipment (e.g. drills, saws, axes, shears) that can cause injury resulting from use, misuse or malfunction.
Participants engage in activities on DHE premises. Boulders, ruts, slippery walkways, ponds and other water sources, uneven ground or other conditions may exist in and around the property.
Risks present in a city, town, or village environment.
These risks include getting lost, theft, harassment, traffic, aggressive or disease-carrying domestic or feral animals; and the unpredictable nature of other people with whom participants may come in contact, none of which can be controlled or anticipated by DHE.
Risks associated with travel.
Travel can be on foot or by vehicle, boat, or other means and can be over rough and unpredictable terrain or via lakes and rivers, in snow, sleet, rain or other adverse weather conditions.
Risks connected with geographic location.
Activities may take place in remote locations, several hours or up to a day from medical facilities, causing potential delays or difficulties with communication, transportation, evacuation and medical care. Although DHE staff may have wireless communication devices (including cell or SAT phones) while conducting programs both on and off DHE grounds, use of these communication devices in outdoor, mountainous, wilderness and/or any other terrain is unreliable and inconsistent.
The risk that equipment used in an activity may break, fail or malfunction. This includes participant’s personal equipment or DHE equpment (whether purchased borrowed or rented). Participants choosing to bring and use their personal equipment (including any safety gear) assume full responsibility, along with their parent/s, for choosing appropriate equipment and for the fit and condition of their equipment. DHE requires use of helmets or other safety gear for some activities. Safety gear may prevent or lessen injuries in some instances; however, use of this gear is not a guarantee of safety, and injury can occur even with the use of such gear.
Cooking and camping risks.
Participants can cook over a gas stove or an open fire and are subject to the risk of gas explosion, scalding or other burns and water contamination in natural water sources. Water should be disinfected, filtered or boiled before use. Camp sites may be subject to high winds, falling trees and/or branches, floods, wildlife disturbances, and other hazards.
Free time risks.
Participants may have free time before, during and after the start of the program, during activities and at various other times. Unsupervised time may include free time and/or brief periods of time, stationary, alone and possibly overnight, in the field (solos). During both supervised and unsupervised activities, all participants share in the responsibility for their own well-being and that of the group.
Risks regarding conduct.
The potential that the participant, other participants and/or third parties may act carelessly or recklessly.
These and other risks may result in participants: falling partway or falling to the ground; being struck; colliding with objects, people or the bottom of a river or other water body; experiencing bicycle, vehicle or boat capsize, collision or rollover; reacting to high altitudes, weather conditions or increased exertion; becoming lost or disoriented, suffering gastrointestinal complications or allergic reactions or experiencing other problems. These and other circumstances may cause heat or cold related illness or injury (including hypothermia, hyperthermia, cold water immersion, frostbite or heat exhaustion/stroke), dehydration, drowning, high altitude sickness, heart or lung complications, broken bones, paralysis or other permanent disability, mental or emotional trauma, concussions, sunburn or other burns, infections, cuts or wounds or other injury, damage, death or loss.
I (participant and parent/s of a minor participant) agree:
- • to review all DHE information received, complete all required forms and abide by the terms of those documents and all rules and other policies;
- • DHE representatives are, and have been available should I have further questions about these activities or the associated risks;
RELEASE AND INDEMNITY AGREEMENT
Please read carefully. This Release and Indemnity Agreement contains a surrender of certain legal rights. Certain federal land agencies may restrict service providers from seeking releases of liability for negligence, for injuries or other losses occurring while operating under permit on some federal lands. Therefore, except to the extent a court determines these federal restrictions apply to DHE as a matter of law, I (adult participant, or parent/s for themselves and for and on behalf of their participating minor child) agree as follows:
(1) to release and agree not to sue DHE, with respect to any and all claims, liabilities, suits or expenses (including attorneys’ fees and costs) (collectively referred to in this Document as ”claim” or ”claim/s”), for any injury, damage, death or other loss in any way connected with my/my child’s enrollment or participation in these activities, including use of any equipment, facilities or premises. I understand I agree here to waive all claim/s I or my child may have against DHE, bind my/my child’s estate and any family member/heir/other party bringing claim/s and agree that neither I, my child, nor anyone acting on my or my child's behalf, will make a claim against DHE as a result of any injury, damage, death or other loss suffered by me or my child;
(2) to defend and indemnify (‘indemnify’ meaning protect by reimbursement or payment) DHE with respect to any and all claim/s:
(a) brought by or on behalf of me, my child, my spouse or other family member/s, or my/my child’s heir/s or estate for any injury, damage, death or other loss in any way connected with my/my child’s enrollment or participation in these activities, including use of any equipment, facilities and/or premises; and/or
(b) brought by a co-participant or any other person for any injury, damage, death or other loss to the extent caused by my/my child’s conduct in the course of participating in these activities, including use of any equipment, facilities or premises.
This Release and Indemnity Agreement includes claim/s of or resulting from DHE’s negligence (but not its gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct) and includes claim/s for personal injury or wrongful death (including claim/s related to emergency, medical, drug and/or health issues, response, assessment or treatment), property damage, loss of consortium, breach of contract or any other claim.
I (participant and parent/s of a minor participant) agree that Colorado substantive law (without regard to its "conflict of laws" rules) governs this Document, any dispute I/my child have with DHE and all other aspects of my/my child’s relationship with DHE, and agree that any mediation, suit or other proceeding must be filed or entered into only in the Montezuma County, Colorado. I agree to attempt to settle any dispute (that cannot be settled by discussion) through mediation before a mutually acceptable Colorado mediator. I authorize DHE staff, representatives and/or other medical personnel to obtain or provide medical care for me/my child, to transport me/my child to a medical facility and to provide treatment they consider necessary for my/my child’s health. I agree to pay all costs associated with that care and transportation. DHE reserves the right to dismiss any participant whom staff believes, in their sole discretion, presents a safety concern or medical risk, is disruptive, or otherwise conducts him/herself in a manner detrimental to the activities. Use of illegal drugs, tobacco products or alcohol, sexual or other forms of harassment, sexual activity or exclusionary behavior are examples of conduct that DHE considers detrimental to the activities, and that can lead to early dismissal. If participant is dismissed or departs for any reason, participant (and his/her family) are responsible for all costs of early departure whether for medical reasons, dismissal, personal emergencies or otherwise. These costs include, but are not limited to medical evacuation, travel, and compensation and expenses for staff accompanying participant.
This Document is intended to be interpreted and enforced to the fullest extent allowed by law. If any portion of this Document is found unlawful or unenforceable, it shall not affect the enforceability of the remaining provisions, and those remaining provisions shall continue in full force and effect.
Participant and parent/s of minor participants agree: I have carefully read, understand and voluntarily sign this Document, and acknowledge that it shall be effective and legally binding upon me, my spouse, participating minor child and other children, and participant’s/parent/s other family members, heirs, executors, representatives, subrogors and estate. The participant must sign below. If participant is a minor (those under 18 yrs. of age), one parent, or both parent/s, if available, must also sign below.
- • to disclose to DHE any mental, physical or emotional condition/s or limitation/s which might affect participant’s ability to participate and agree that participant is fully capable of participating without causing harm to him/herself or others;
- • If participant is borrowing, renting or purchasing new or used equipment from DHE, the equipment comes "AS-IS," and DHE disclaims all warranties, express or implied (including any conditions of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose) with regard to the equipment. Participant agrees to inspect all equipment before use and notify DHE of any apparent problems or defects with the equipment.
- • the information provided above is not exhaustive, other unknown or unanticipated activities, risks, and outcomes may exist, and DHE cannot assure participant’s safety or eliminate any of these risks;
- • participant (and parent/s of minors) are fully responsible for lost, stolen or damaged equipment;
- • Participant is voluntarily participating with knowledge of the risks. Therefore, participant (and parent/s of minors) assumes and accepts full responsibility for participant, for the inherent and other risks of these activities (both known and unknown) and for any injury, damage, death or other loss suffered by participant (and parent/s of minors), resulting from those risks, and/or resulting from participant’s own negligence or other misconduct.