Frequently Asked Questions

1.1 I'm interested in trying the group - what do I have to do?

If you're new to our group - a prospective member - you will need to join the group before attending any event (other than a recruitment open evening at the hall). For most of our events there is no need to book but you will have to provide contact details (name and telephone number or email address) on the first event you attend. If you would prefer to provide your details to the committee please email them to our Membership Secretary. You will be sent a confirmation email which you can show the event organiser and, on the day, you will only have to provide your name. If you have any questions about specific events then use the Contact Organiser button on the event page. For any questions about our group then please email us. Look forward to meeting you soon.

1.2 I want to become a member of the group - what do I have to do?

You can become a member of our group online at any time. Whilst online payment is preferred, cash and cheque are still accepted. You can pay at our Thursday hall meets in central Harrow. If you would rather post payment then leave us your name and number and you will be told an address to post a cheque (payable to HAWOG).

1.3 What obligations are members required to meet?

Just the usual and obvious obligations of joining an outdoor activities group (pay membership fee, attend outdoor activities, treat others reasonably etc.), but you're encouraged to join the YHA.

1.4 Can I attend events without being a member?

No, please see the Membership page.

1.5 Who knows if I attend events?

It's relatively easy and quick to know who attends group events. For many events a short report is produced and emailed to the group; photos are often taken and submitted to our website; and attendees will tell others how the event went. All of this means the names and faces of anyone attending our events more than a few times is soon known.

1.6 I live quite far from Harrow and Wembley - can I still be a member?

Distance does not prohibit being a member. We have a number of members who live too distant from North-West London to attend any of our local day events. However, they attend our weekends away and sometimes gain from being located closer to the destinations we visit. Some members only attend our weekends away. Likewise, organising an event is not a problem as everything can be done on-line. Living somewhere more distant probably makes it easier to prepare a good route or activity for a weekend away.

1.7 How can I pay?

Whilst most membership, surcharges and events can be paid for online via our PayPal account, there are a few alternatives for attendees and events where online payment via our PayPal account is not possible:

  • Pay electronically direct to our group bank account.
  • Pay in person at a branch of our group's bank.
  • Get someone else to pay online for you.
  • Ask the organiser of events you need to pay for, if they will accept payment direct to them (and they pay group for you).
  • Occasionally, cash and cheques may be accepted at key events and dates.
  • Cash and cheques may be accepted for a small handling charge.

For all of the above, please ensure the Chair, Treasurer or event organiser knows how you will pay. Please email us for more information.

1.8 What events can I attend?

You can attend any events you are able to do without impacting others. So ensure that your fitness, clothing, equipment, expectation, motivation, experience, skills etc. are sufficient.

1.9 I think I am being charged the wrong price to attend an event by the organiser - what shall I do?

Go back to the organiser and explain why you think they are charging you the wrong price. State your assumptions, sources and breakdown of numbers. You should expect the same from the organiser. If you cannot agree how the difference came about and resolve, then please contact the Chair or another committee member.

1.10 I have booked my own accommodation for one of the group's weekends away - can I attend the group's activities?


1.11 I want to claim expenses that I think the group should pay - how should I go about this?

You should ensure that your expenses will be approved before you incur them, you can do this by simply asking the committee (via Chair or another committee member) from which you will get a response. If you incur expense without gaining committee approval in advance then you do so at your own risk. All claims for expenses should be submitted, including receipts etc., within a month of being incurred.

1.12 I've booked on an event and now can't make it, can I have a refund?

You can have a refund providing someone else pays for your place. Until then, you'll be expected to pay any outstanding balance. It's your responsibility to find a replacement, you can do this by emailing our group and informing that you have a place to sell, and letting the event organiser know. The group will sell remaining uncommitted places first before 'returned' places.

2.1 I don't know how to read a map or use a compass - can I get help gaining basic skills in these?

Yes, our group offers a number of opportunities for members to use map and compass ranging from classroom theory to outdoor practice sessions, informal and formal. Members can pair up with someone experienced, maybe to share organising an event, to have them present (as backup) on an event, or to walk a route in advance. Once basic skills have been learnt, practice is required. See the Gain Skills page.

2.2 I just want to walk, why should I have to gain skills in navigation, and map and compass use?

For several reasons. First, if you attend our weekends away and want the option to do a different, maybe shorter, route than others, or to depart a led route earlier, then you'll need skills in navigation. You shouldn't expect others to have to slow down or amend a route because you don't want to continue. Second, it's reasonable to expect everyone who walks or cycles with any frequency in the countryside to gain at least basic navigation skills, for safety and to share the navigation responsibilities with others over time. Few people want to plan and lead activities all the time. And third, navigation skills will enable you to give something back. Our group is run by members, for members, and a few more members organising more interesting walks and cycle rides would be much appreciated.

2.3 I'm not really a walker - can I gain skills in, and contribute something other than, navigation?

Yes. Whilst walking is our main activity, others like caving, rock climbing, mountain biking etc. are acceptable. If you can organise and lead some of these then that's fine.

3.1 How are events organised within the group?

Our group has two main programme planning drives each year. In September for our winter programme (October to March) and in March for our summer programme (April to September). Other events can be submitted any time during our group year. All events must be submitted using one of our event forms; these ensure consistency and completeness of essential information. For day events more than one month away or multi-day events more than 3 months away, a Basic Details event form, which only requires a brief overview, is acceptable. For day events less than a month away or multi-day events less than 3 months away, a Full Details event form must be submitted. Full Details event forms can though be submitted instead of a Basic Details form (i.e. submit one form, rather than two). Event forms can be submitted any time for events that require significant advance booking (i.e. accommodation during public holidays needs to be reserved 6+ months in advance). Details - date, activity, location etc. - can usually be changed for events after an event form has been submitted.

3.2 Do I need to be a member to organise an event for the group?


3.3 Do all events have to involve some kind of outdoor activity?

Mostly, yes. Our group is an outdoor activities group first and foremost, as opposed to a social activities group. Members socialise automatically - lots of walking and talking, evenings spent in pubs, restaurants, hostels and cottages on weekends away. We allow a very few key explicit social activities on our events programme each year, like a summer bbq, Christmas buffet etc. Many members make friends and socialise beyond the group.

3.4 I've never organised an event before - what should I do?

Think about why you joined our group and what you want to get from us - walking, weekends away, cycling, variety of outdoor experiences etc. Consider which you therefore should gain some skills in: as most members walk, navigation (map and compass) is the most common skill. Start gaining that skill, use the information and support within our group, and apply it by organising your first event. Maybe pair up with someone experienced. All events involve deciding a date, an activity and a location at the very least. Submit your event using the appropriate event form(s) and then promote your event. For events that don't require booking in advance (i.e. for accommodation), an email to our group during the week before is the norm. For events that do require advance booking, an email to our group quite a few months in advance will be required. As an organiser you should come prepared (i.e. bring map and compass and know how to use if leading a walk) and be aware of any unusual or risky issues. In short, be prepared - you're the leader.

3.5 Can I organise an event with someone else?

Yes, if it's a multi-day event and you're new or unsure then partner with someone else and learn, gain experience. For events that require more effort to organise, maybe split the roles, common splits are accommodation/booking/promotion versus activity/planning/leading (for weekends away). If the event doesn't really require two people to organise and one of you is not really contributing or learning, then don't be surprised if you're asked why two people are named as organisers... All day events may have only one organiser, although others can still assist with event organisation and be listed on the programme.

3.6 I submitted an event for the group's programme, do I need to do anything else?

You need to promote your event. Events are promoted using our main email group. To send a message to our main email group you need to be registered; if you receive group emails then you are registered. To send a message simply write your email, tell everyone why they want to attend your event and send it here. Make sure you include sufficient details, copy details or include a link to your event page on our website programme, and maybe add your mobile number. Protocol is to promote events that require advance booking (i.e. weekends away) many months in advance before monies have to be committed, and to promote most other events (i.e. day walks and cycle rides) during the week before. If a contributing event is poorly publicised, it may not be considered as a contributing event, so you may have to organise another event.

3.7 I want to submit an event for the programme, is there anything I need to consider?

The main considerations are that it doesn't clash with, or undermine, something else (i.e. not too close to something similar), that it adds value to our programme (i.e. good, interesting outdoor activity) and that it is commensurate with what you do (i.e. give back something similar to what you attend). If you're not sure and you want advice then email the Programme Planner or just submit anyway and it'll be returned if something needs to be changed.

3.8 I've submitted a basic event form - how can I remind myself to submit full details on time?

Easy. Make a note in your diary or calendar, maybe a week before you need to submit full details. Likewise programme a reminder into your mobile phone, personal organiser or on line calendar, again a week before. Remember, it's your responsibility to submit full details by the date you state on your basic event form and to put in place whatever reminders work for you. Please don't expect others to keep reminding you. Alternatively, simply submit full details first time for your events. If you keep failing to submit full detail of your events on time then you're likely to be required to submit full details only for your events in future.

3.9 What happens if I fail to submit full details of my event one month before it's scheduled?

You will most likely (if you have an email address) be sent a reminder email with a final 7 day deadline. If you miss this then then your event will most likely be removed from our programme. Three weeks before is usually our absolute latest deadline as we do not want our weekly email sent each Monday containing links to events with out of date details.

3.10 Do I need to submit a report for my event?

Yes, you must submit a report with a minimum of 80 words within 2 weeks of the event, otherwise you won't gain any points for your event. Photographs (with captions, please) are entirely optional, but are very much encouraged as they inform all what we do. Reports and photographs get added to our website each week.

3.11 Do I need to record the details of those who attend my event?

Yes. This information should be forwarded to the Membership Secretary (you may receive a reminder email after your event). Your event must be attended by at least 2 people in addition to the organiser(s), otherwise you may not gain any points for your event.

3.12 I have issues with another member - can I stop them from attending my event?

Not without committee approval. All members are entitled to attend all group events that they are capable of doing. If you have genuine reasons why another member shouldn't attend your event then you need to put a strong case to committee. If you have issues with another member's behaviour or attitude then the Chair or another committee member can ask them, and anyone else, to confirm they understand and accept group rules and protocol. All members are expected to be civil and polite to all others at all times, and any who have issues with others are expected to simply keep their interaction to a minimum and to not talk to or about each other.

3.13 I want to reserve and pay for accommodation or maybe an instructor for an activity I want to organise - can I get an advance from the group?

Yes, you will need to provide some details so the committee can consider the risks involved to group money, full details are provided on our Submit An Event page.

3.14 I want to reserve and pay for accommodation or maybe an instructor for an activity I want to organise - will the group cover any shortfall?

Possibly, you will need to provide some details so the committee can consider the risks involved to group money, full details are provided on our Submit An Event page.

3.15 I want to organise an event that will involve costs - will the group pay the costs?

For most events the costs are paid for by those attending (i.e. accommodation on weekends away etc.). For a few events, maybe a Thursday hall evening involving food or drink, it's possible the group could charge attendees or simply cover the cost from its overheads. If the latter, which happens for a few events each year, then you need to provide some details so the committee can consider, full details are provided on our Submit An Event page.

3.16 I've submitted an event and now can't do it or need to change it - can I do this?

Yes. Events can be moved to another suitable date within reason - it mustn't for example undermine another similar existing event (similar date or location or activity etc.). In exceptional circumstances a member may be granted a rain cheque by committee, which means they can postpone organising their contributing event in one programme on the promise it will be repaid in the next. This means that the owed event needs to be submitted during and for the next programme planning period. So if you wanted to postpone your contributing event for the summer programme then you would owe it for the winter programme and need to submit it by the end of September. Rain cheque events are in addition to any other contributing events.

3.17 Can I submit a charity walk for the programme?

No, charity walks won't be accepted for our programme.

4.1 How is travel organised for events (i.e. car sharing)?

Attendees, not organisers, are responsible for getting to and from events. However, for many events organisers offer to coordinate car sharing, and will say so in their communications. Coordinate usually means collate the names, numbers, emails, locations and depart times etc. of those wanting to car share, by a fixed deadline, and then communicating, usually by email, the information, with the onus on those wanting to car share (as driver or passenger) to make contact as appropriate. Alternatively, our Facebook group can be used, in particular for day events when attendees don't need to confirm until the day before. For events that require advance booking (i.e. weekends away), the organiser, or attendees, will usually email all those attending (as known in advance) and start the ball rolling about car sharing. If you're attending a weekend away and there's been no communication by the week before then ask the organiser for a list of email addresses and start the ball rolling.

4.2 I am a car driver - do I have to accept anyone as a passenger in my car?

No. Who you accept in your car as a passenger is entirely up to you. It's your car. The group does not insist you give a lift to anyone or how you calculate any charges. If need be, you should discuss and agree how costs are going be shared before starting out. If you're taking a number of passengers you might want to save yourself time and tell them to get to one central point, otherwise you'll spend more of your time driving them.

4.3 I need to organise travel for an event abroad - what do I need to consider?

Before you book anything make sure that all going are committed and are expected to pay their share of any costs incurred - this is standard group protocol but as foreign travel usually means higher costs, best to make double sure in writing. Keep all emails. For flights, probably want to ensure all will be on the same flight so you may want one person to make booking for all going. Make double sure of all names and spellings. Ensure you know any restrictions on travel before booking.

4.4 I need to organise a number of cars for people going on my event - what do I need to consider?

How driving is going be shared is main consideration along with how costs are going to be shared. If only one driver per car then the driver may find they are expected to drive to activities they don't want to do. So often best to have two drivers per car, which means drivers have a choice too and can usually do an activity they want. If more than one car then maybe best to view the cars as a pool of cars that anyone can ride in, and all share costs equally. Car costs will include the hire for a defined period of time, maybe insurance for additional drivers, maybe a mileage excess (i.e. charge for each extra mile above a limit) and maybe the option to reduce the excess - the amount the hirer is liable for if car is damaged. If you feel you're going somewhere safe then maybe not worth paying to reduce excess. Either way, you will need to agree who is paying any excess - regardless of how incurred - as it will be coming off the hirers card in the first instance. Suggest all costs and assumptions etc. are made explicitly clear to all and are a condition of using the car(s). Fuel costs will need to be apportioned, unless you plan to log dates, mileages, and passengers, it's probably easier to simply split by all, unless any major journeys and differences can be accounted for. Finally, some costs, can be easily apportioned to those in a car on a particular journey. Toll charges - collect at the time for those present. Likewise parking charges. Unfortunately only drivers will be liable for any driving offences, so watch that speed, and make sure that who was driving when is known should any subsequent speeding tickets arrive.

5.1 I can't guarantee that I receive all emails sent to me - what should I do?

Committee can only assume that all emails sent are received. If you're experiencing problems with email then inform Chair or another committee member promptly, maybe find the cause and get it sorted, consider using a second more reliable email address or don't use email at all. With or without email, responsibility still rests entirely with you for meeting your obligations as a member and ensuring currency of information about our group. Non email sources of information include our website, Thursday hall evening meets and committee members. Do not expect others to keep you informed of what's going on, you call someone if you want to know, and do not give or use an unreliable email address for group communication. Anyone with persistent 'problem' email addresses may be denied the benefit of email, which means no communication, either way, to do with our group, will be accepted by email, until sorted.

5.2 Why are all group emails subject to approval?

Three main reasons: First, to hopefully ensure that spam and viruses don't get through - anyone, not just members, can join our email group. Second, to censor ill informed, incorrect and strong personal views - these should be aired elsewhere. Third, to reduce the chance of anything sensitive being sent by mistake - don't want to upset or embarrass anyone. Most members have good experiences with our group and shouldn't be subject to the views of a few cranks, whingers, or irate people who may have other agendas. Bad or wrong communications give the wrong message about our group, may undermine Chair and committee, and upset or worry members. All emails - including those sent by committee members - therefore require approval by the Webmaster. If you feel a censored email should be sent then you need to convince committee with a strong case. Anyone who wants to communicate their views, good or bad, right or wrong, with other members or anyone else can always contact them individually or collectively; there is no censor beyond our group. Malicious rumours and gossip though, are unacceptable and members may be held to account for anything clearly malicious they say or write.

5.3 When should the group email or Facebook group be used?

Group email is the main medium of communication but not all information is relevant to all subscribers. In particular: arranging travel for events (car sharing), social events (not on our programme), sales and wants etc. So now there is a choice and anyone who only wants to receive essential and core group information (weekly email about forthcoming events, reports on recent events, general group news) need only subscribe to our email group. Those who might want less important or relevant information can join our Facebook group. Group email subscribers can choose how they receive emails (individually, daily digest, summary, or to log in to Google groups like on a message board).

5.4 How do I subscribe to the group's email?

You can see full details of our email group and how to subscribe on the Contact Us page.

5.5 How do I send an email to the group?

Once subscribed, you can send to our email group here.

6.1 I disagree with something an individual committee member has told me - what should I do?

If you're a member then you're entitled to tell the Chair or another committee member that you want the committee to consider your view. You will then need to clearly state in writing your view and what you want done. The committee will then discuss your view by email or at a subsequent committee meeting and to let you know the outcome. It is common for the Chair and other experienced committee members to be asked questions about particular issues and to give a view, which may or may not be correct or represent the majority committee view. Likewise it is reasonable for members to question a view, to request the majority committee view, and to have their view considered. However, members who waste committee time with petty or irrelevant issues may be told by the Chair or committee to cease doing so (ultimately, Chair and committee view is final) and have their membership ended if they persist.

6.2 I am not happy with the conduct of another member - what should I do?

Assuming it's not the Chair, then you need to inform the Chair or another committee and provide evidence and witnesses as appropriate. Without evidence, at best the Chair or other committee member can only broach the issue of conduct in general rather than specific terms, and certainly can't make any accusations. With evidence, specifics can be addressed and hopefully resolved promptly. Anyone being accused of anything has the right to expect a reasonable level of proof; likewise Chair and committee expect anyone with an issue to produce evidence or witnesses. If you're not happy with the conduct of the Chair, then you need to raise the issue with other committee or experienced group members (ask other members if not sure who these are), provide evidence etc., and discuss who and how the issue will be raised - could involve a number of people if one person not confident.

6.3 What happens if I fail to meet my obligations as a member or reasonable requests made of me by committee?

Most likely you will receive a written, polite but firm, communication from the Chair or another committee member on behalf of committee giving you a final deadline to kindly do as asked. If you fail to respond reasonably then your membership will most likely be ended and any refund returned if appropriate. Committee gives its time freely and expects members to meet their obligations and respond promptly and reasonably to requests made of them.

6.4 What happens if I fail to submit an event by the end of March?

You'll probably get a final reminder from the Chair or another committee member, requesting submission within a deadline of a few more days. If this deadline is missed then in exceptional circumstances you may be given a 'rain cheque' by committee. This means your event is postponed on trust that it will be submitted and repaid on time for our next programme (winter or summer) and you will continue as a member. Members may be given at most one rain cheque at any time.

6.5 I do not agree with some group rules or protocol - what should I do?

You could join committee, which will give you a good insight into some of the issues faced behind the scenes and why certain things are the way they are. You'll also have a better idea of the challenges faced in 'making the group happen' and have a bigger influence (say) in how things are interpreted and what is decided. Alternatively you could put a proposal to members at our next AGM or EGM. If you're new to our group then you might want to bounce any ideas off a few others first, just in case there are any 'show stoppers' you're not aware of.