Program Policies

Program policies are subject to change without notice. 

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COVID-19 PANDEMIC SPECIFIC POLICIES & PRECAUTIONS

  • VULNERABLE POPULATIONS:Registrants considered at higher risk to COVID-19 shall be responsible for making their own decisions regarding program participation, and MSHI shall bear no responsibility for the consequences of that decision. In Washington State, high-risk populations are encouraged to stay home, and MSHI disclaims any and all responsibility or liability if a high-risk program participant elects to participate in the program (See CDC guidelines on vulnerable populations.)
  • TRAVEL: We expect you to follow Federal, State, Public Lands, and Health Authority regulations and guidance on travel. Please consider deferring travel if you or any program participants are coming from an area with a large outbreak, regardless of the mode of travel. Also, consider staying local - Mount St. Helens will be here in the future (See our Reassurance Cancellation Policy if you are concerned.)
  • CLOSURES & GROUP SIZE: All MSHI programs will be kept fully up-to-date on the local, state, and federal regulations, and MSHI will communicate this information to the group in advance of the trip.
  • COME PREPARED: Please bring your own supplies, including hand sanitizer, face covering, food, water, etc. This includes:
    • Bringing your own hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, toilet paper, and a small bag for trash.
    • Bringing items for your experience as documented in program communications after registration.
    • Bringing your own writing implement to fill out required risk and medical forms (forms will be provided by MSHI at the trailhead).
  • FACE COVERINGS: A face covering (such as a cloth mask) must be worn any time the group is not hiking, when we pass others on the trail in either direction or when we cannot maintain social distancing. Read more about cloth face coverings here.
  • SOCIAL DISTANCING: Minimum of 6 feet is required between household members, including from other hikers on the trail. There will be no exceptions to this policy.
  • KNOW THE SYMPTOMS: Any registrant is required to cancel if he or she is experiencing a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, or new loss of taste or smell. We will do our best to reschedule with no penalty once you are feeling better. Review the symptoms
  • MEDICAL INFORMATION & HEALTH SCREENING: The more we know about participants’ health/medical conditions, the better we can manage the risks for everyone. Please complete the Participant Information Form 14 days before your trip. On the day of your trip, we will conduct a COVID-19 symptom screening survey. Any persons with COVID-19 symptoms must cancel. 
    • FOR SUMMER CAMPS AND YOUTH GROUPS STAYING OVERNIGHT: According to Washington State guidance regarding overnight group summer camps, all campers and employees must do one of the following before arriving at camp: 1) be fully vaccinated, OR 2) receive a negative COVID test no more than three days prior to arrival and remain in quarantine between the test and start of camp. Anyone unable to meet one of these two conditions is not allowed to participate in camp. Verification of vaccination or test results is required.
  • FIRST AID: MSHI staff will provide first aid up to their level of training, and will be following recommendations of the certifying organization (eg: NOLS) regarding COVID-19. 
  • FLEXIBILITY: If there are large crowds at trailheads or on the trail, our staff will work with your group to alter plans/schedule to avoid large gatherings of people. 
  • LODGING:  At this time, only outdoor lodging (camping) is available for overnight programs. 
  • POST-TRIP: If you become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 and/or test positive for COVID-19 within 2 weeks of participating, we encourage you to let us know for purposes of contact tracing. While optional, this is encouraged to help us slow the spread. We will try to do the same. 
  • ADDITIONAL PRECAUTIONS AND POLICIES:
    • MSHI staff and volunteers will be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms each program day.
      • All frequently touched surfaces will be regularly disinfected.
      • As noted above, masking, physical distancing and handwashing are required during programs.
      • MSHI does not offer transportation to or during program activities.

CANCELLATION POLICIES

COVID-19 Reassurance Cancellation Policy (Effective January 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021)

FOR IN-PERSON PROGRAMS & VOLCANO NATURALIST: Due to COVID-19, we are temporarily modifying our cancellation policy to allow full refunds less a 3% credit card processing fee for any registered participants who are not able to attend a scheduled event due to COVID-19 related issues.

If you have been recommended to self-quarantine, have had recent contact with an ill person, or are feeling ill yourself, please do not attend the program for which are scheduled.

If you need to cancel your registration, please contact our team as soon as possible. For outdoor guided programs contact climb@mshinsitute.org. For youth and family programs contact learn@mshinstitute.org

FOR ON-LINE YOUTH PROGRAMS: No refunds will be provided for a cancellation or no-show of on-line/virtual programs. Date exchanges require at least 24 hours advance notice by email (learn@mshinstitute.org).

Standard Cancellation Policy

  • MSHI reserves the right to cancel, postpone or change the venue, date and time of a program should unforeseen circumstances occur."
  • Due to changing weather and terrain conditions and the pace/skill of a group’s program participants, MSHI cannot and does not guarantee programs will be completed as advertised.
  • In the event that the Mount St. Helens Institute must cancel a scheduled program, registrants will receive a full refund less a 3% credit card processing fee.
  • In the event that the registrant cancels their registration, the registrant will be held to MSHI's program specific cancellation policy below:
    • Guided Exploration Programs, Volcano Naturalist, Summer Camps, & Family Programs: Registrants will receive a full refund minus a 3% credit card processing fees when MSHI is notified of cancellation 30 or more days prior to the start of the program.  Should you prefer, registrants may receive a program credit for the full tuition plus credit card processing fees. Refunds are not issued for cancellations received fewer than 30 days prior to the start of the program.
    • Summer Camps: Registrants will receive a full refund minus 3% credit card processing fees when MSHI is notified of cancellation 30 or more days prior to the start of the program.  Should you prefer, registrants may receive a program credit for the full tuition plus registration processing fees. Refunds are not issued for cancellations received fewer than 30 days prior to the start of the program.
    • Volcano Outdoor School & Facility Rentals: The school or group is registered upon receipt of the signed Program Agreement. A non-refundable deposit of 50% of the program quote is due 60 days before the program start date. Should MSHI not receive a booking deposit, MSHI may cancel the Program with written notice.
    • Online/Virtual Programs: No refunds will be provided for a cancellation or no-show. Date exchanges require at least 24 hours advance notice by email (learn@mshinstitute.org).
  • Refunds are not issued to participants dismissed from an MSHI program.  
  • MSHI shall not be liable for any direct, or indirect, consequential or special costs (damages) that may be incurred due to a program cancellation or dismissal, including, but not limited to, airfare, hotel expenses, cancellation penalties and any other private expenses."
  • None of the following will result in a refund of any program fees: homesickness, change of family/school plans, dismissal from the program and/or personal schedule conflicts/changes.

PARTICIPATION POLICIES

  • Programs proceed in rain and unpleasant weather unless it compromises the safety of the group.  Appropriate gear, clothing and footwear are very important for ensuring comfort.
  • All program participants are responsible for their own accident and health insurance.
  • All participants must complete and return a Participant Agreement & Assumption of Risk and Participant Information Form before the beginning of the program.
  • Participants must abide by the rules and instructions given either verbally or in writing by the Mount St. Helens Institute or its designated instructor(s). Violation of any participation policies are grounds for dismissal.
    • Unlawful conduct is prohibited. Participants must abide by the rules and regulations of the US Forest Service.
    • Alcohol is not allowed during programs unless otherwise approved by MSHI.
    • Any and all illegal or recreational drugs including, but not limited to, cannabis are not allowed on federal land or during an MSHI program at any time, for any reason.
    • Smoking and vaping are not permitted during programs.
    • Weapons including, but not limited to, handguns, rifles, shotguns or other firearms; knives, butterfly knives, switchblade knives, daggers; martial arts weapons or implements; explosives; and stun guns or Taser devices, are prohibited. Possession or use of any weapon is grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.
    • Inappropriate conversation or personal conduct; bullying, assault or inappropriate physical conduct; offensive behavior or remarks toward other participants or Mount St. Helens Institute staff and volunteers, including use of racial, religious or sexual slurs and/or intimidation are strictly prohibited.
    • Theft or vandalism is prohibited.
    • The majority of our programs operate within a No Drone Zone.
  • Pets are prohibited on Mount St. Helens Institute programs. Service animals are permitted, in designated areas and/or as otherwise permitted by controlling law.
  • Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from the program site, unless otherwise determined by MSHI.
  • MSHI shall not be liable for any direct, or indirect, consequential or special costs (damages) that may be incurred due to a program cancellation or dismissal, including, but not limited to, airfare, hotel expenses, cancellation penalties and any other private expenses."
  • The Mount St. Helens Institute or U.S. Forest Service and their staff and volunteers are not responsible for the storage, care, custody, or control of equipment, materials or furnishings owned by participants.

Last updated: February 25, 2021