FAQs

Here are the frequently asked questions when registering for activities and preparing to go on an outing with Venture Outdoors. For more specific FAQs regarding Kayak Pittsburgh or certain types of public or custom programs, go to one of the FAQ pages below:

Public Program FAQs by activity

Custom Program FAQs by activity

Kayak Pittsburgh FAQs

 

Registration

How do I register for outings on your website?

Click here for detailed instructions on how to register for an outing.

I am now registered for an outing. What are the next steps?

You will receive an email with outing details such as location, Trip Leader contact info, activity checklists and FAQs, and outing expectations as the date of the outing approaches. Generally, you will receive this information 2-5 days ahead of time. Please remember to check in your junk mail folder, as our emails are sometimes automatically placed there.

What is the cost to register for an outing?

Within the description of each individual outing, you will find the cost for that outing. Venture Outdoors members receive a discounted rate, which will be applied at check out when you are logged in to the website. Some outings may include a family rate (family memberships only) or a child rate (for persons under 18 years). If there is no separate listing, children pay the adult rate.  Just as for adults, we ask that any children you bring be comfortable with the level of difficulty listed for the outing.

In order to make our outings more accessible to families with small children, our outings have an “Under Three and Free” guideline:  Children under three years of age are generally permitted on Venture Outdoors outings that are family-friendly or are no more than two hours in length.  There is no cost for the child to attend.  The parent or guardian will be responsible for transporting the child in a way that is conducive to the activity.  Contact the Venture Outdoors Office at 412-255-0564 ext 0 or registration@ventureoutdoors.org if you plan to bring a child less than three years of age on an outing.  The Venture Outdoors Office will review the trip plan and then proceed with registration so long as a reasonable accommodation can be met.  For children over three years old pricing is listed for each outing. If there is no separate listing, children pay the adult rate.  Just as for adults, we ask that any children you bring will be comfortable with the level of difficulty listed for the outing. Note: This guideline excludes Tyke Hikes, an outing series specifically designed for children ages 0-5.

Do I have to be a Venture Outdoors member to register for outings online?

No, you don’t have to be a Venture Outdoors member to register for outings online. Venture Outdoors Memberships start at only $15 a year and allow you to receive up to 40% off of outings – read more about it or sign up to join here.

Not ready to commit to Membership? No problem – non-members can create a free profile on our website during the checkout process. This way, we are able to email you directions or contact you if a trip is cancelled.

How can I pay with a check or cash?

Simply give us a call during business hours (Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM) or send an email to registration@ventureoutdoors.org to reserve your spot using forms of payment other than credit card. Space is not reserved until registration is complete, and registration is not complete until payment has been received at the office. You can either mail your check in or stop by during business hours with check or cash payment.

When is the last chance to register for an outing?

  • For weekend outings, you will need to register by 4 PM on Friday.
  • For weekday outings, you’ll need to register by 4 PM on the day of the outing.
  • For our early morning outings, you’ll need to register by 4 PM the day before the outing.
  • Certain outings have more specific limitations, and those will be noted in the outing description.

What if an outing is sold out?

If you try to register for an outing that’s sold out, you may check the wait list checkbox to be added to the wait list. You will be notified via phone if space becomes available. If you intend to hold a spot for an additional participant, please make sure that they add themselves to the wait list. We cannot hold spots for participants who are not listed on the wait list.

What is your cancellation policy, and what are the steps for cancelling a registration?

To receive a refund, your cancellation must be made at least three business days (Monday – Friday) in advance. For example, you must cancel no later than 5 PM on Tuesday for the following weekend’s trips. Simply email registration@ventureoutdoors.org or call us to let us know that you need to cancel (cancellations cannot be made on our website).

  • Cancellations with insufficient notice, no-shows, and late arrivals who have missed the group’s departure will not receive a refund.
  • Refunds are issued in the form of your original payment.
  • Please note that refunds will not be given on check payments until there is verification that the check has cleared. Paid reservations are transferable to other participants. However, we request advanced notice that there will be someone attending in your place.
  • Some outings such as Outdoor Leadership Weekend have more specific limitations.
  • Series participants who cancel after the series commences will be charged the per-activity rate for each activity attended and will be offered a refund for the remaining balance.

Outdoor Leadership Weekend Refund Policy:    

If a participant cancels or withdraws from the course:

  • Greater than or equal to 15 days prior to the course start date, Venture Outdoors will retain a $20.00 administrative fee.
  • Within 15 days of the course start date, course fee is non-refundable.

 

Outings

Are your outings dog-friendly?

Venture Outdoors loves dogs! However, some people don’t feel as comfortable around them as we do. Look for the “dog friendly” labels next to the outings to find out if it’s OK to bring along your canine companion. The number of dogs allowed on dog-friendly programs is limited AND those dogs must be noted in the Accessibility Requirements / Notes section at the time of registration. Please remember that dogs must be kept on a leash during the activity unless in an “off-leash area.”  Dogs are not allowed on any other Venture Outdoors trip.

Who attends your outings?

Venture Outdoors attracts many different types of people, from very young (infants go on our tyke hikes) to people 65 and up, and everyone in between. We aim to get as many people outside as possible, no matter age or ability level! We also encourage families to attend our trips together. They’re a great alternative way to spend quality time with your loved ones.

Can I attend only a portion of the outing?

We think it is best to keep the group together, so we rarely choose to split up participants. Get in touch with us before the trip if you have any concerns with completing the entire outing.

What if the outing is too strenuous for me?

Each outing has a difficulty ranking, and we do our best to describe the format as much as possible so that you can get an idea of whether it’s something that’s suitable for you. If you are ever in doubt, always feel free to call us. Follow this link for a detailed list of all of our difficulty rankings. If it is determined at the trailhead that the outing is beyond your ability, then the trip leader may determine that you should attend a more suitable option at a later date.

Do I need to sign anything?

Yes. All participants must sign an Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form before the start of an outing. Those under age 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form for them. Download and print the form here.

I want to go on a trip but I don’t have transportation. Is group travel available?

Many of our outings are accessible by public transportation. For some outings, group travel options may be available. Comment in the “Accessibility Requirements / Notes” section when registering or contact the office and we will work with you to find group travel options.

Do I receive a discount if I bring my own equipment?

Yes, you receive a discount off the per person cost of the program if you bring your own kayak or snowshoes. The equipment must be in good condition and equivalent in performance ability to the equipment provided by Venture Outdoors. To receive the discount, call the office at 412-255-0564.

Is there anything I shouldn’t bring on an outing?

Venture Outdoors does not allow participants to bring electronic games, alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, or firearms on any of our excursions. Venture Outdoors discourages smoking and cell phone use on our trips. Some trips may have more specific limitations.

What if there is rain/snow in the forecast?

All of our outings are rain or shine with a few exceptions. Possible causes for cancellations include severe weather, if the Trip Leader determines that outing conditions will exceed the group’s comfort level, or if there’s a potential travel hazard. If this determination can be made during regular office hours (9 AM-5 PM, Monday-Friday), participants will be called and emailed by staff. If the determination is made outside of regular office hours, the Trip Leaders and on-call staff try to decide at least two hours in advance of the start time. Weather is variable and the Trip Leader may opt to cancel the outing at the trailhead or modify the trip during the outing. Check our Weather FAQ page for more information.

OUTDOOR News

  • 10 Adventure Photographers that will Inspire You to Get Outside

    February 21, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

    Climbing, hiking, skiing! What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
    These 10 adventure photographers, categorized by sport, will inspire you to get outside no matter what the weather. They’ll have you dreaming of tropical waters, rocky cliff sides, and snow covered slopes all at the same time!

    1. Skiing- Jimmy Chin
    North Face athlete and adventure photographer Jimmy Chin spends his days climbing and skiing in the mountains. In particular he pushes skiing to the extreme, and is among an elite group of people who have skied Everest from the summit!

     » Read more about: 10 Adventure Photographers that will Inspire You to Get Outside  »

  • Venture Outdoors vs. Florida Outfitter

    February 14, 2017

    By: Nancy Latimer

    Venture Outdoors may be a nonprofit with volunteer Trip Leaders, but it’s not a rinky dink operation. Venture Outdoors has rigorous training to ensure that all Trip Leaders follow the same format including the planning, the introduction, the safety, and the experience. Recently, I was on vacation in southwest Florida and went on an Everglades kayak tour with a commercial outfitter. Many of the Venture Outdoors checklist items were the same as my Everglades trip, but Venture Outdoors covered things more thoroughly. I was impressed that Venture Outdoors trips are on par or better!

     » Read more about: Venture Outdoors vs. Florida Outfitter  »

  • Running Outdoors in a Pittsburgh Winter

    February 7, 2017

    AN ESSENTIAL EMBER
    By: Suni Lynn Lee

    Outside the temperature hovers around 10 degrees. As I stand staring out the window, watching the wind whip the snow into sparkling spirals, I feel motivation oozing out of me. Inside it is toasty warm, and I shiver at the thought of stepping out into the cold to begin my run. But, I turn away from the window, thinking, “Today is my day to run, and I will run.”

    Dressed in layers, I feel like an abominable snowman. I stuff soft cotton into my ears, pull a wool stocking cap onto my head,

     » Read more about: Running Outdoors in a Pittsburgh Winter  »

  • Women in Nature Hike

    January 31, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

    During the summer months here in Pittsburgh, adventurous women from all around the city participate in Venture Outdoors’ popular Women on the Water (WOW) programs. But, as the kayaks at North Park and on the rivers have been put away for some time now, it was time to lace up our hiking boots and try something new. 

    So, this year for the first time ever, Venture Outdoors offered the very first Women in Nature Hike! Over 25 excited women met in North Park on January 22 for a leisurely Sunday morning hike in the woods,

     » Read more about: Women in Nature Hike  »

  • Getting to Know Our Staff: Fifteen Questions with… Ken Sikora

    January 24, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

    There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes brain power that goes into planning your favorite programs, be it public, family-friendly, or custom outings. Learn about those who work inside so you can get outside.

    This week we’ll be interviewing Ken Sikora, our Head Trip Leader Specialist.Ken

    1. Briefly tell us about your background: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, and what brought you to Venture Outdoors?

    I was born and raised in Munhall, just south of Downtown. I went to California University of PA and studied Parks and Recreation Management.

     » Read more about: Getting to Know Our Staff: Fifteen Questions with… Ken Sikora  »

Featured Outing

 

Outdoor Leadership Training
Sunday, February 28
9 AM – 5 PM

This day-long, classroom-based training is designed to improve your leadership skills in a format that fits your schedule. The eight-hour course is a fast-paced mix of skill training, awareness development and fun.

SIGN UP HERE!