Wilderness risk management and YMCA camp outtripping programs
DisciplineEnvironmental Studies : Nature-Based Recreation & Tourism
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Risk management has become a significant focus in outdoor programs. Managing risks in natural environments can be very complex, particularly since many of the risks which can cause loss are the same risks which can cause gain. The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of how risks are managed in outtripping programs through using three YMCA summer camps as a case study. The three camps are Camp Queen Elizabeth, John Island Camp and Camp Pine Crest. Outtripping programs are a significant focus at each of these camps. Data for this research were collected through the use of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with camp directors, assistant directors and outtripping staff, totalling 19 study participants. This research identifies three main short comings of the traditional approach to risk management: (1) risk management tools and techniques alone do not lead to a safe and valuable outtrip experience; (2) it adopts a partial definition of risk and risk management, which fails to place emphasis on the positive side of risk; and, (3) human factors are not adequately addressed in the process. Findings from this research show that wilderness risk management is a complex process made up of many interconnected components. The components that were identified in this research are grouped into three categories: program design, risk management tools and techniques, and human factors. Managing risk in a wilderness environment involves numerous uncertainties related to the environment, equipment and people. The risk management process is adaptive for both organizations and leaders and involves balancing the competing goals of safety, protection and adventure. Well-developed goals provide a foundation for outcomes based risk management. This research has produced a wide range of information which can be used by both academic and applied audiences to further strengthen the process of wilderness risk management.