Next week I’m off to America for the annual National Outdoor Leadership School’s wilderness risk management conference in Salt Lake City, WRMC (everyone loves an acronym). I’ve been wanting to go to this for ages and finally, I have the opportunity to go. Whilst I’m looking forward to seeing Salt Lake City and collecting all the bags of free marketing stuff from the exhibitors, there’s more to the conference for me than just that (although… if there’s some really, really good free stuff...). Luckily, it’s not in the ski season, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to drag me away from Park City or Deer Valley, which might be on the cards for the start of next year, which would be totally awesome! Sorry, I digress back to the real topic. (We’ll keep talking skiing later.)
The conference is divided up into sessions on different industry topics which are:
Emergency Planning & Crisis Response
Staff Training & Decision Making
For anyone new to management in the industry, or even seasoned veterans, this is an awesome mix of extremely relevant topics for program design, preparation, managing risk and mitigating damage if something totally unforeseen occurs. One of the greatest risks we face as experiential education professionals is that of complacency. If we’ve had an exceptionally successful run of camps, activities and programs, which have been essentially injury and incident free, the risk is that focus fades away from the concern of active risk management. People forget that new instructors might not have the same mindset as you do. People forget that risk management is more than just filling in paperwork. It’s about actively managing risk for everything that you do.
I’ve seen complacency drift into organisations I’ve worked for. Since they’ve been doing the same thing for so long, it’s become an automatic process, which forgets about human error factors, different group dynamics and environmental conditions. Basically, these are things you need to be actively managing. Letting complacency sneak in, is when the risk of accidents can dramatically increase.
To prevent this within the organisation’s culture, something like the WRMC is an awesome way to invigorate staff and align them with industry best practices, as well as learn from past incidents and how they can be prevented in the future.
So I’m extremely excited about going to my first conference and not just for the free pens, although admittedly I’ll be taking my fair share to try and cover the cost of the flight from Sydney to Utah! I might tweet, or not from the conference, who knows. I’m most likely just to post random stuff on Instagram, so if you’re not already following me, follow @xcursionadventures
Looking forward to an amazing few days!