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

  • Restorative Practices in an Outdoor Setting

    April 24, 2018

    By: Beth Zabiegalski   

    As an organization, Venture Outdoors does some really awesome and exciting things with local youth in after-school and summer programs, getting them outside for the first time or teaching them something new to do in nature. Most of our outings are a couple hours or less, but when we build meaningful relationships with our students, we create formative outdoor experiences with memories that last more than just that afternoon. 

    Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a two-day Restorative Practices Training through Venture Outdoors’ partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools. I’ll admit I had next to no idea what to expect,

     » Read more about: Restorative Practices in an Outdoor Setting  »

  • Spring Inside

    April 17, 2018

    A Day a Phipps 
    By: Sara Cardamone 

    Now that Spring is finally here, so is the rain! In Pittsburgh, sometimes it can be hard to find ways to be in nature when it is rainy and muddy. However, there are tons of fun alternatives if you look hard enough! Since I’m a student at Pitt, I pass Phipps Conservatory all the time but I always felt like I never had enough time to stop in. Fast forward to now, the first big rainy day of Spring was upon us and I was struggling to find a calming activity to take my mind off of school and then it hit me.

     » Read more about: Spring Inside  »

  • My Mirror is the Outdoors

    April 10, 2018

    By Stephanie Capilongo

    “Go Outside… amidst the simple beauty of nature… and know that as long as places like this exist, there will be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.” -Anne Frank.

    The outdoors, it appears, is complicated. But it’s not. It can free your mind and give you a new appreciation for beauty. It brings things and people together, whether it’s your best friend, significant other or your cat. The people you go with mean everything. And no matter who you are or what you do, you can find joy.

     » Read more about: My Mirror is the Outdoors  »

  • When Youth Find their Voices

    April 3, 2018

    By: Lo Hutelmyer, Ryan Singleton and Ty’Shay Thorton

    To an educator, few things are more rewarding than witnessing a student discover his or her own passion. More rewarding still is when they show their first glimpses of leadership by taking charge to teach others about their passion.

    For those of you who may know me, it’s sometimes a challenge for me to stay quiet. But when I had the opportunity to watch Ty’Shay and Ryan present at last month’s conference, I was speechless. Ty’Shay and Ryan, 7th graders from Manchester Academic Charter School, have been participating regularly on Venture Outdoors trips for two years.

     » Read more about: When Youth Find their Voices  »

  • Mount Ararat Community Activity Center takes on GASP!

    March 27, 2018

    By: La’Nell Pennington, Trip Leader SpecialistGASP

    Last October, youth group members at Mount Ararat Community Activity Center in East Liberty participated in an after-school workshop with Pittsburgh’s own Group Against Smog and Pollution. (GASP).

    What is air pollution? We started out by asking the children if they knew what air pollution was. All the kids raised their hands excited to give answers. After a short hike to the Larimer Community Garden, we took turns giving examples of different types of air pollution and where it comes from. The children identified pollution sources such as cars,

     » Read more about: Mount Ararat Community Activity Center takes on GASP!  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Sunset Paddle

Thank you for another great season!
We’ll see you on the water in 2018!

#KeepPittsburghPaddling


Featured Outing

Geocaching - CD

Cultural District Geocaching
Thursday, April 26
6:30 – 8:30 PM

Join us for a fun intro to the world of geocaching in the Cultural District. We will learn the basics of using a GPS (Global Positioning System) device to navigate between waypoints throughout downtown.

SIGN UP HERE!