Master Chores List

Life is easier on the water when you know what you’re responsible for.

Master Chores List

Life is easier on the water when you know what you’re responsible for.

Look, not every trip needs to be managed this way–but the best trips we’ve ever been on had structure. A chore list helps everyone know what to expect, when to be on or off duty, and that everyone else is on the same page.

Who’s making dinner? Look at the chores list. Why isn’t the groover set up yet? Check the chores list. When am I on camp setup duty? Chores. List.

Not only does it make your life easier as a trip leader (after all, the trip practically runs itself with a well-oiled chores list), but it’s usually a welcome courtesy for everyone else on your trip. If someone feels like they’re pulling all the weight—or that someone else is slacking—you’ll likely recognize the seeds of drama start to germinate among your trip. And when you’re stuck relying on the same people for a week or more in the wilderness, you want to nip that bud early.

How to Use the RTP Master Chores List

The Master Chores List is broken up into two primary tabs (see the bottom of the sheet to toggle between them) and a sample tab that’s been filled out for your reference. While it may look a little hectic to start, it has some great built-in tools to help you keep everyone on the same page, check your work and ensure fairness throughout the trip.


The first page, labelled “CHORE RESPONSIBILITIES”, is a great place to lay out the quality-of-life tasks that should be expected on a daily basis. Feel free to modify these as you see fit, but the lists are fairly comprehensive and should cover all your bases if you use them as-is.

Whether you’re boating with friends or strangers, outlining the responsibilities helps establish consistent expectations between shifts so nothing gets left to assumptions. The various shifts then correspond with the actual assignments on the “CHORE ASSIGNMENT” page.


The second page of the sheet is where you’ll actually assign your trip participants to their daily shift. This is where things get a little more complicated, but rest assured that balance is possible and your efforts off-river will pay off during your trip. We recommend two ways to fill it out:

  1. Randomized, Individual – Assign chores on an individual basis with the goal that people are working with different people each day.


    • Everyone gets to know each other better, especially if not everyone is already acquainted
    • No one is stuck with a dud for the entire trip if there are known slackers
    • Splits up couples so one can focus on tent setup/takedown or other individual tasks while the other does their chore shift


    • Some people may not want to work with other people
    • If everyone planned/prepared meals for the group before the trip, it’s best to make sure they are preparing their own meal rather than a random one
  2. Randomized, Team – Assign chores with two or more people working together for each shift


    • Couples or friends may enjoy working together for the whole trip
    • You can assign meals based on the meal plan, coordinating each person to cook the same meal they signed up for


    • Some people may get stuck working with a slacker for the whole trip, which is a bummer
    • A couple doing breakfast or camp cleanup may not have a chance to takedown their campsite or load their boat until the chores are all over, leading to later leave time

Either way you go, filling out the chore chart is kind of like playing Sudoku with a blank slate—the goal is even distribution.

Start by picking a person (or couple) and assign them to a different chore shift each day of the trip (you can either ignore or delete columns depending on how long your trip is). Then, continuing through your participant list, keep adding people to the chart. Try your best to make sure no one person has to do multiple chores in a single day or the same chore on back-to-back days.

After everyone has been assigned, scroll down and add their names to the “DAILY CHORE TALLY” roster, located below the “CHORE ASSIGNMENTS” (make sure the names are spelled the same everywhere you use them for the tool to work correctly). With the names added to the Roster, you should see the “DAILY CHORE TALLY” and “CHORE DISTRIBUTION” update to tell you how many chore shifts each person has per day, and how many times they do a chore for the whole trip.

As you review the results, keep in mind that perfect fairness is almost impossible, but look for people with a greater or lesser share than others and adjust the chore table accordingly.

Sample Chore Chart

The third page of the sheet, labelled “SAMPLE” has a hypothetical chore chart filled out for you to reference. You can even get a head start on your own chore assignments if your trip is a similar size and length by using “Find and Replace” (CTL+ H on Windows, Cmd + H on Mac) to swap the names we used in the sample with the names of real participants on your trip.

Perfect fairness is almost impossible, but look for people with a greater or lesser share than others and adjust the chore table accordingly.

On the River

After you’re satisfied with the chore assignments, print out at least one copy of both the “RESPONSIBILITIES” and “ASSINGMENT” pages to keep in your dry box or captain’s bag to reference during the trip. You can even print out a copy for each boat, so you don’t have to whip out yours every time someone wants to check.

Each evening of the trip, build a ritual “Reading of the Chores” during dinner or just before bed so everyone knows what their responsible for the next day. This is especially helpful to make sure no one sleeps through their coffee duty the next morning. If anyone wants to trade up chores, we like to keep that option open, assuming that everyone effected consents.

  • Chores lists help add structure and avoid chore-related drama
  • Use “CHORE RESPONSIBILITIES” to set expectations for each chore shift
  • Use “CHORE ASSIGNMENTS” to assign each participant to the daily shifts
  • Keep printouts handy during the river trip so you have a source to reference
  • Build a ritual “Reading of the Chores” each evening to keep people in the loop

Don't be a shmuck, chores it up!

Love it, hate it, have another idea?

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