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WRMC 2015 Workshops (2016 workshops coming in June)

The WRMC balances new and evolving topics and speakers with the fundamentals to ensure that everyone finds their learning edge.



Click below on a color coded track to view workshop descriptions.


    Emergency Planning and Crisis Response     Program Administration
    Field Practices     Staff Training and Decision Making
    Legal Considerations     Pre-Conference
    Poster Sessions     Structured Networking




Featured Speaker



Mary Gibson Scott


Throughout her over thirty-year career as a federal land manager, Mary Gibson Scott has both embraced and managed risk from coast to coast, most recently as superintendent of Grand Teton National Park. Sometimes these risks took the typical form of immediate threats related to visitor rescues and recoveries and sometimes these risks were less predictable. Mary will speak about the value of risk for the human spirit and the importance of providing the possibility of failure for learning and growing. She will also share her perspectives on the most imminent risks to the future of wilderness and wild places.




Emergency Procedures and Crisis Response
      Using the wealth of experience in this group of presenters, the Emergency and Crisis Response track addresses crisis plans, crisis/field incident and post incident response.

Blindspot: Near Miss Trauma

Brendan Madden

  A cultural blindspot in our industry is the "Near-Critical Incident": a category of serious near-miss where staff or participant(s) come close to a fatal accident. Experience has shown that these incidents can be traumatic for those involved, yet, because no serious incident occurred, there is often little support offered. This presentation will attempt to address that void by showing techniques for identifying the near-critical incident, structuring an effective debrief, and providing guidance for longer term healing and support.

Crisis Communications Boot Camp

Skip King

  Is your organization ready to handle a catastrophic – or just plain embarrassing – incident? Are you certain? The constant evolution of the news and social media means that it isn’t getting easier. In the Crisis Communications Boot Camp, we’ll start at ground level to create understanding of today’s media landscape, and how and why it works the way it does. You’ll learn how to identify the key people within your organization who can handle the most sensitive aspects of crisis communications, gain insight into how to develop their skills, and learn how to leverage your external resources to facilitate smooth management. And you’ll emerge with the tools needed to create a functional emergency communications plan.

Crisis Management: A Preplan in Action

Drew Leemon

  Responding to a crisis, such as a participant fatality, presents a complex situation that demands a thoughtful and reasoned response. This workshop will provide attendees with an overview of the five elements of successful crisis management, begin to delve into the complexities of responding to crisis situations through the presenter's personal and professional experience while providing a forum for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences of the audience. Additionally this workshop will provide a starting point for creating a crisis management plan.

new topic icon Dissecting Critical Incident Response: Applying Concepts to Your Own Program

Steve Smith

Amberleigh Hammond


  Participants will be provided with an overview of how a national program classifies and responds to critical incidents, and will use an example unfolding in real time. We will pause at key junctures to highlight specific learning and critical decision points, provide time for discussion, and challenge participants to modify the concepts provided for their own program.

Practicing your Worst Nightmare: A Realistic Emergency Response Scenario

Gretchen Ostherr

Frances Mock

  This session will use a complex yet realistic scenario of a serious incident in a front country outdoor program to help you identify operational and legal concerns and practice your response. Small groups will discuss evolving phases of a scenario and respond to specific questions in a limited timeframe. After each phase of the crisis unfolds, key legal and operational considerations will be reviewed. Attendees will leave with a hands-on training activity that can be adapted and replicated in their own programs.

Preparing and Executing Effective Critical Incident Simulations with Administrative Staff

Mark Vermeal

  During this interactive lecture, participants will gain an understanding of the value of utilizing simulations to prepare administrative staff to effectively manage critical incidents. Participants will be taught a framework for conducting simulations that highlight strengths and exposes gaps in their incident management. This session will discuss the benefits, relevant considerations, and potential pitfalls of conducting simulations. It will also provide participants with a continuum of simulation models that can target incident management goals.

Risk Management the Traumatic Aftermath

Will Marling

  This workshop is an introduction to processes and protocols for addressing the traumatic impact on clients, staff, and responders in the aftermath of a traumatic critical incident. It is based upon forty years of field-tested, evidence-informed best practices in the area of trauma mitigation and education.

new topic icon Tower of Babel: Complexities in Inter-cultural Emergency Response

Tim Hare


  As many programs move into international settings, both in wilderness education and otherwise, increased attention should be given to the complex variables present when operating abroad and across different cultural paradigms. While many lessons from wilderness risk management transfer, many others must be learned anew. This session will use three case studies from an international program to highlight lessons related to unreliable communication, variable medical infrastructure, local hazards, diseases, mental health concerns, and competing stakeholder demands.
        view workshop schedule  



Field Practices
      This track evaluates specific practices and assessment tools as benchmarks for industry practice.

Case Studies in Wilderness Medicine: Matters of Judgment

Shana Tarter

  This workshop will explore the real life application of wilderness medicine skills by WFR trained faculty on remote wilderness expeditions. In addition to assessing the usability of the practice and decision-making curriculum taught in wilderness medicine courses, we will discuss the unexpected challenges and realities of long term care. These cases are drawn from actual incidents and include perspectives from the involved faculty.

new topic icon Developing a Culture of Risk Management Throughout Your Higher Education Institution
Paul Tame new speaker icon

  Academic outdoor education and wilderness based orientation programs tend to be run by seasoned practitioners with an appreciation for risk management systems. However, within many institutions, the standard of risk management in other (academic and student led) programs operating in the backcountry can vary widely. This workshop will focus on sharing solutions to the challenges colleges and universities are facing regarding raising the standard of risk management across all departments and developing a common core of risk management values.

'I'm Not Like the Others: ' Three Activities to Minimize the Emotional Risk of Exclusion
Rachael Price

Rachael Price new speaker icon

  We want to broaden the reach of our programs to more and different people, but are we ready to manage the emotional risks that come with this diversity? How can our programs provide an experience that best honors this diversity while maintaining positive outcomes? This interactive workshop will help you train your staff to conduct three activities that set up an inclusive environment in your program.

Medical Topics for Remote and Wilderness Medicine

David Johnson

  In this session, we will review some important old, new, and ongoing controversial/confusing medical topics relevant to work in remote areas. There will be time for participants to share their thoughts and ask questions, so please come prepared.

new topic icon Minimizing Risk When Working with ‘At-risk’ Populations

Facilitator: Kati Mayfield new speaker icon

Becca Polglase new speaker icon

Diana Girard new speaker icon

Julie Dubin new speaker icon


  As the demographic profile of our country shifts, so does that of our industry. More of us are being challenged to develop new, or adapt current, programs, to meet the demands of new communities. Join us for a panel discussion to understand what additional risk you might assume when investigating new types of programming, and what the best practices are to mediate such risk.

new topic icon Psychological First Aid Toolkit

Laura Gladrey Griebling new speaker icon

Paul Dreyer new speaker icon


  Psychological First Aid (PFA) has been internationally used in disaster and conflict areas as a means to reduce morbidity from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and to build resilience in first responders and people affected by traumatic events. In the recent years, the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute has initiated the application of PFA in wilderness (education) settings as a means to equip first responders with practical tools to offer psychological first aid in settings where form debriefing is not practical or useful. This 90-minute, hands on, collaborative workshop will present an overview of the history of PFA, teach the neurobiology of PFA, and present transferable, practical skills that can be used by medical and non-medical responders alike.

Supporting Struggling Participants: Strategies for Managing Behavioral and Mental Health Issues

Katie Baum Mettenbrink

Emily Ledingham

  Managing behavior and mental health issues, and deciding who should stay or leave the field, can be intimidating and draining for field staff and administrators alike. This workshop aims to help you more effectively support struggling participants who can stay on your program, and identify those who should leave. We will explore continuums of behavior through scenarios, and I will provide a framework to define thresholds of acceptable behavior and corresponding management tools that match your program. This workshop is targeted towards field staff and administrators in non-therapeutic programs.

new topic icon Rejecting The Binary: The Benefits of Considering Emotional Risk for LGBTQ Individuals

Kira McGieson new speaker icon

Elyse Rylander new speaker icon


  As the demographic profile of our country shifts, so does that of our industry. More of us are being challenged to develop new, or adapt current, programs, to meet the demands of new communities. Join us for a panel discussion to understand what additional risk you might assume when investigating new types of programming, and what the best practices are to mediate such risk.
        view workshop schedule  



Legal Considerations
      Our Legal Considerations presenters work hard to develop a series of focused, non-redundant offerings to address current legal and insurance issues in wilderness risk management.

new topic icon Case Study of a Major Burn Injury and the Subsequent Litigation

Al Wright new speaker icon

  Explore a recent case study with organizational lessons that impacted risk management policy. Specific applications for your organization's risk management plans and safety protocols related to outdoor equipment use and inspection, emergency responses, release forms, and litigation preparation. This workshop is based on a real accident that provides a clear connection between field practices and the litigation process.

Contracting with Outside Organizations

Catherine Hansen-Stamp

Todd Duncan


  In this session, we will highlight six key elements of an organization’s contracting relationship with vendors, outside organizations, or other third parties, focusing on one of those key elements - the written contract. Among other critical issues, we will discuss the value in clarifying the parties’ respective responsibilities and liabilities and engaging in informed negotiation, providing examples of our own experiences from both a legal and program perspective. Arrangements discussed include an organization sub-contracting a portion of its programming, teaming up on a mutual services arrangement, and facilities use or rental. Time is reserved for interactive dialogue with attendees regarding their questions and experiences in dealing with these contracts.

new topic icon Have You Got it Covered? Exposures That Could Lead to an Organizational and Financial Meltdown

Steve Neal

Sam Daume

Mike Lucas

Don Pachner

  Sexual Misconduct; Wrongful Termination; Data Breach; Crisis Response; Medical Malpractice. What do all of these exposures have in common? If not managed properly, an occurance involving any of these can quickly lead an organization into a deep financial and legal quagmire. Are you covered? Is having an insurance policy enough? Having an understanding of when an incident (occurance) may necessitate pulling the policy off the shelf to put it to work is critical. Also critical is understanding what is required of you, the insured, during the various stages of an incident response. During this session a series of scenarios and guided discussion will explore the complexities of managing exposures and incidents through the lens of an insurance policy.

Mock Trial Focus Group

Tracey Knutson

Wilma Gray


  This focus group research format allows the trial attorneys to test lawsuit themes, assess the strengths and weaknesses of the positions, and ultimately identify and craft a persuasive argument strategy. Participants will play an active role as members of a jury focus group, listening to experienced trial attorneys present limited, short segments of evidence for a mock trial case involving a wilderness recreation organization that has been sued. A moderator will stop frequently to probe the participants with questions for discussion, reactions, feedback, input, attitudes, and beliefs about the evidence presented. As additional topics are raised, they can be pursued further by the attorneys presenting evidence within the Mock Trial.

The Law Says 'Yes' to Risk

Reb Gregg

  In recent years the the Law has moved with increasing clarity and frequency to an acknowledgment of the value of adventure and risk in promoting personal development and a healthy society. This acknowledgment plays out in evolving notions of an organization’s duty of care to its clients in certain types of activities pertinent to our audience. We will cover this and other trends in areas of the law fundamental to our industry, including negligence and defenses to claims of negligence (inherency of the risks, assumption of risks, and waivers) and the not so minor problem of dealing with minors.

Top 10 Dos and Don'ts to avoid Liability

Tracey Knutson

  There are very specific areas of law, specific types of claims, and specific instructor/operator practices that are 'hot' right now in terms of generating claims or making claims harder to defend. In this session we want to look at a literal 'top 10' and examine what these areas of law, practices, and claims are to develop our growing awareness of how we avoid creating liabilities and therefore lawsuits. We'll be looking at: 1) social media issues 2) marketing claims 3) release and waiver conflicts with promotional materials, with respect to minors, inherent risks, etc. 4) incident/emergency response allegations not only as they relate to clients but also staff and the increased presence of OSHA into recreational arenas 5) participant duties of care, how clients bear responsibilities and duties, and how duties can be defined between parties 6) third party vendors involved in recreational courses or products and how liabilities are split between multiple vendors producing a recreational course/experience/product 7) use of emerging equipment and how gear/equipment changes can alter standards of care 8) operator DUTY to communicate (experience and risk) 9) regional and local standards and the operator's awareness of same 10) poor paperwork/poor business practices.

Working with Minors: Legal Issues

Catherine Hansen-Stamp

  Cathy will discuss a selection of legal issues associated with minor participants in your programs. What is “in loco parentis” and the duty of care owed to a minor regarding supervision and instruction? What about free or unstructured time and a child’s personal responsibility? What role does information exchange play with the participating minor and her parent? Can a child release a program from liability, or assume certain risks? What are the evolving legal and risk management issues regarding potential sexual abuse? Come to learn and share your thoughts and perspective.

new topic icon Understanding Hotchkiss: What Happened and How it Impacts Your Program

Frances Mock

  In 2013, a jury awarded $41.7 million to a minor for an alleged case of tick borne encephalitis (TBE) contracted on a school trip to China. The federal court found the school had a duty to warn about tick bites and protect the student from ticks even though, according to the CDC, she was the first U.S. traveler to contract TBE in China. The court thus found a duty even though the risk was unprecedented and unforeseen. The case is based on Connecticut law and is currently on appeal. This presentation will explain the facts, the ruling, the issues it raises, and how it impacts programs in and outside Connecticut.
        view workshop schedule  



Program Administration
      The Program Administration track addresses a number of issues pertinent to program managers including communicating your program’s risk to parents, international programming, and risk management in smaller programs.

Cases in Quantifying Risk

Ross Cloutier

  This presentation looks at two recent cases where attempts to quantify, and score, risk have been applied. The first case is an application of ISO 9001 risk management standards to the Torngat Mountains National Park in northern Labrador. The second case will look at the newly developed "SAR Risk Assessment & Decision Making" tool which assists search and rescue responders in assessing the risk before responding to a SAR. There are significant applications for all wilderness risk managers in looking at how these two leading-edge cases apply to other wilderness risk management situations.

new topic icon Climbing Incident Analysis: Mazama Case Study

Doug Wilson new speaker icon

  Your organization collects incident reports, but how do you get the most useful information about root cause to educate your leaders? This case study of Mazama climbing incident analysis can provide a starting point to identify your top incident types, brainstorm root cause variables using Ishikawa diagrams, and do some simple commonality analysis to understand what factors your leaders should know about reducing incidents in the future.

new topic icon Evolution of a Process: Recording and Using Risk Management Data to Improve Your Program

Nathan Trappenew speaker icon

Kate Farthing new speaker icon

  For 20 years, Broadreach has taken thousands of students on adventure programs to over 45 different countries. As with most small organizations, our approach to collecting risk management data and applying this information to improve our programs has not always been easy or effective. In this session we demonstrate how our processes have improved and share our future goals for using data to better manage risk through informed program design, training, and advanced analysis.

The Normalization of Deviance

Aram Attarian

  Normalization of deviance demonstrates a human tendency to deviate from established standards. The problem with deviating from original standards is that most of the time nothing negative happens. The fact that there are no repercussions reinforces the deviant behavior until the behavior is accepted as the new norm. This workshop will explore ways of recognizing, evaluating and preventing normalization of deviance. As a group, we will share examples and management practices that work for creating a culture that addresses this phenomena.

new topic icon Structured Interviews: Moderating Risk Acceptance

Adam Brown new speaker icon

  Organizational interview and selection practices constitute a significant opportunity to mitigate risk exposure. This session will present arguments for the connection between interview structure and selection of optimal candidates by minimizing the more subjective impacts of human perception and judgment in the selection process. Participants will attempt to identify gaps in their own hiring practices and identify ways to mitigate organization risk before your staff is even hired!

10 Steps to Better Risk Management

Alex Kosseff

Andrew Leider new speaker icon


  Risk management reviews are a powerful tool for identifying gaps in safety practices. Learn how the Outdoor Safety Institute has used reviews to identify 10 important but relatively simple risk management steps that many programs aren’t taking. The steps involve aspects of management, organizational culture, staffing, crisis response, field practices, training, and transportation. This session (and 20-page guide) provides resources to navigate these 10 challenges plus ideas on assessing and improving risk management practices and culture in your organization.

Travel Health for International Programming

Bill Frederick

  This workshop is intended to assist trip leaders and administrators to make informed decisions about health and medical strategies for their programs operating overseas. We will survey the data on traveler illness and injury and look at how to access information for particular destinations. We’ll look at prevention and avoidance of travel related health issues and diseases. We will look at the options for strategic response planning for injury and illness, particularly when traveling in low and middle-income countries.

Two Silos and a Crosswalk

Reb Gregg

Catherine Hansen-Stamp


  Using the anagrams DEEPGRASS and CLIPPERS, we will discuss the two silos of an effective risk management plan – managing the risk of loss to the client and to the organization – and identify their interrelationship. We will explore the most common sources (the “deep grass”) of problems and legal claims arising from an organization’s operations, including the exchange of information, reacting to the critical incident, and the supervision and separation of clients; and then move to a consideration of how a responsible organization prepares (“clippers”) for such claims, including the wise use of professionals, understanding the law, standards and prevailing practices, and allocating liability for losses.
        view workshop schedule  



Staff Training and Decision Making
      This track focuses on staff, our on the ground risk managers who make numerous critical decisions every day. Some of the topics to be addressed include training staff to be risk managers in the field, using case studies as a tool, managing staff injury claims, volunteer leaders and designing an effective staff training.

new topic icon A Culture of Risk Management

Jonathan Igoe new speaker icon

Alec Norton 

  What factors help staff and participants buy into a risk management plan? When risk management is a mindset, not just a binder on a shelf, staff and participants benefit and an organization is stronger as a result. The presentation will focus on staff training and group management strategies that have worked at Overland.

Ambushed by Myself: Growing Beyond Several Unexpected Leadership Pitfalls

Lester Zook


  Our understanding of the human element as a causative factor in accidents and incidents continues to grow. Early efforts focused on "reading our guests/students," group tenor and dynamics, and the "dangerous client." More recently, focus has broadened to self awareness: what is inside me, the leader, that could contribute to a disaster? This workshop will unpack several well-known internal elements (routine/competence, social anxiety and ego), and some lesser explored dimensions (leadership team dynamics, overly directive styles). The intent is to provide leaders with some tools and prods toward greater self awareness, as well as supplying staff trainers with language to use in leadership preparation. Format will be some lecture content, as well as frequent opportunities to personally reflect, and share in small groups.

Decision Making: Errors of Perception

Gates Richards

  In this session, we will explore the neurobiological factors of perception that contribute to human errors in decision-making. Using video, activities and magic, we will experience and discuss errors of attention, errors of pattern recognition, and priming errors. Though we cannot eliminate these hazards from our decision-making process, we can recognize their effects, account for their presence and minimize the chances of significant fallout from the traps they set. By increasing our awareness of how the brain processes information, we can take steps toward being more deliberate in our decision-making awareness, and perhaps make more consistently good decisions. This presentation continues to evolve, and repeat attendees will receive a mixture of old and new activities.

Performing Under Pressure

Deb Ajango

  This workshop will provide audience members with an understanding of how (and why) people tend to react as they do, both cognitively and behaviorally, in highly stressful situations. Additionally, the presenter will explore how quality training can positively influence one's response. The presenter will offer suggestions and share ideas from the pre-conference workshop on how people might modify their staff trainings and/or organizational emergency action plans so that desired behaviors are more likely.

new topic icon The Checklist Manifesto for Outdoor Programs

Al Wrigh tnew speaker icon

  The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is a New York Times Best Seller written by Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande brought the concept of research-based protocols combined with operational “checklists” to surgical practice. Implementation of simple checklists had a dramatic decrease in surgical complications and death rates. Explore the application of Gawande’s simple principles garnered from the fields of medicine, construction, and aviation to operational issues in common adventure activities.

new topic icon Training Your Leaders as Wilderness Medicine Instructors

David McEvoy

  Every backcountry traveller needs to understand the basic principles and concepts of wilderness medicine, regardless of whether they have an official wilderness medicine certification. Similarly, outdoor leaders with no formal wilderness medicine instructor training need to have a concise and practical approach to presenting this information, just as they would have for setting up a backcountry camp or teaching wilderness navigation. This session will give participants a 2-4 hour wilderness medicine curriculum and teaching tips that they can pass along to their field staff, with the understanding that these staff will not be wilderness medicine instructors and may not even have significant medical training.

Training Your Staff to be Risk Managers

Liz Tuohy

  You don't have very much time to train staff. But you can take advantage of every interaction with them that you have, from hiring to season wrap up to all the conversations in between. In addition, you can influence your organizational culture with a series of complementary interventions. Take a systems approach to field-based risk management training in this workshop, which will include lecture, small group exercises, and reflection on your program.

new topic icon Understanding Andragogy: Designing your Staff Training to Motivate Adult Learners

Jess Wilson

Joanna Lemmon new speaker icon

  Have you ever looked into the eyes of staff or volunteers during a training and seen confusion and/or disengagement? As risk managers, we know how important it is for trainees to understand and participate. This workshop delves into that disconnect by exploring Adult Learning Theories (Andragogy) that motivate and engage. Participants will have time to explore their own training challenges and identify where incorporating Adult Learning Theory can make their staff trainings effective and successful.
        view workshop schedule  



Pre-Conference Workshops
    Our selection of pre-conference workshops allow participants to explore specific topics in greater detail with smaller groups. Participants can choose from half-day sessions to three-day courses.
    October 13-14, 8 AM - 5 PM (2 days: Tues–Wed)

Effective Outdoor Program Design and Management
Paul Nicolazzo

Joel Reid



This workshop will examine the complex relationships surrounding outdoor program design and management from the field instructor, staff trainer, and program administration perspectives using PowerPoint, interactive whiteboard lecture, video, and small group activities. It is guaranteed to have a positive impact on how you administer and deliver your programs and courses and train your staff. Tuition includes our Effective Outdoor Program Design & Management textbook and workshop small group exercise manual (sent as pdf file prior to conference).


Inclusion and Cultural Competency for the Outdoor Professional

Rachael Price new speaker icon

Liz Hardwick new speaker icon



This workshop is full.


  Diversity is what we are, inclusion is what we do, and cultural competence is what we need to do it. As outdoor educators continue to engage a broader range of people, our staff need the tools and training to welcome and value what this diversity brings. And this level of inclusion can only happen if we strive to gain more competence regarding the various cultures with which we work. In this seminar participants will learn how to be inclusive, how to gain more cultural competence, how to run some basic activities with their staff and participants to foster more inclusive environments, and how to manage inclusion-related incidents in the field.

Navigating Health, Safety and Security Abroad

Bill Frederick


  What do international trip leaders need to be able to do and what skills, understanding, and information access do they need? This training will look at the international hazard landscape and the risk management strategies available. It will include data, standards, best practices, information acquisition and vetting strategies, cross cultural implications for safety, and emergency response. The format consists of small group work on scenarios interspersed with content lectures. Participants will receive readings packet prior to the training.

NOLS Administrative Risk Management Training

Dave Yacubian

Katie Baum Mettenbrink

Brendan Madden


  Using lecture, discussion, exercises, and hands-on scenarios, this two-day training will provide a structured approach and the necessary tools to build a risk management plan appropriate for your organization. You will walk away with a detailed action plan designed to improve your curriculum, administrative process, staff hiring, field support services, and crisis planning.

Wilderness First Responder Recert

Gates Richards

David Janney


  Are your wilderness medicine protocols on the tip of your tongue or in the bottom of your pack? Join the leader in wilderness medicine for a two-day, scenario-based course to review evacuation and decision-making guidelines. This new WFR Recertification course includes an online component. Prior to arriving at the course site, you will need to go through materials (readings and videos) and complete the written WFR Recertification test online. Once in the classroom, our dynamic, experienced instructors will refresh you on current techniques, protocols, and controversies in the wilderness medicine field. You will have opportunities to ask questions and to participate in challenging practice scenarios and case studies. The Wilderness First Responder Recertification (WFR Recertification) course includes WMI Adult and Child CPR and Airway Management certification. This course is the most popular recertification program in wilderness medicine and is ideal for current Wilderness First Responders and Wilderness EMTs. The WFR Recertification course is pre-approved for 18 hours of EMT Continuing Education Units by CECBEMS.
    October 14, 8 AM–5 PM (full day: Wednesday)

new topic icon Communicating Through Crisis: A Holistic Approach

Will Marling

Skip King


  Something bad has happened, and there’s no way it won’t be a big story. Do you know what to say to individuals and their families who have gone through this traumatic incident, and how to respond to their emotional reactions? Meantime, the public and reporters are clamoring for all the gory details. But how do you answer all the questions consistently, while remaining respectful of both family privacy and the public’s right to know? This informative and entertaining session provides skills-based protocols for understanding victim language and culture in the aftermath of a critical incident – and tools to use with public communications efforts.

Sharing in Safety: Risk Management for Corps

David McEvoy

Jarrod Ball

Rachel Lettre

Su Thieda


  Join other corps programs in discussing how to do what we know we need to do. Continue to build a culture of safety within your programs. Examine industry standards and risk management trends that are specific to team-based programming. Build a stronger sense of corps community by sharing your own experience, questions, and best practices.
    October 14, 8 AM–12 PM (1/2 day: Wednesday)

Performing Under Pressure
Deb Ajango



This workshop is full.


  Research has shown that people often do not perform well under pressure. This workshop will help audience members understand why people react as they do, both cognitively and behaviorally, in stressful situations. By using case studies and current research, the presenter will explore how modified staff trainings can influence one's response. The presenter also will offer suggestions on how one might modify his or her organizational emergency action plan so that desired behaviors are more likely. The second half of this workshop will be used to help audience members learn how to create realistic, stressful scenarios and staff trainings. Time will be allotted for participants to actually write scenarios that can be used within their organizations.

And the Winner Is...(?) Hot Issues, Hot Cases
Catherine Hansen-Stamp

Reb Gregg


  In this interactive session, we will ask attendees to consider several 2014-15 court opinions addressing significant legal issues in the industry. Participants will consider – and attack or defend – conflicting arguments pertaining to, among other issues: negligence and the duty of care owed to participants, including minors, inherent risks and assumption of risks, who can release whom for what, when what you say or write hurts you, an organization’s liability for the acts of its employees, and other timely issues.
    October 14, 1–5 PM (1/2 day: Wednesday)

Parent Phone Call Lab

Liz Tuohy

Emily Ledingham


  Test your conflict communication skills in this interactive parent phone call lab. Spend three hours preparing for and practicing challenging phone call scenarios and hone your skills by serving as both caller and coach. After each call, the "parent," an experienced program administrator, will offer feedback to help you develop your skills. We will review successes and persistent challenges, and you will leave with strategies for applying lessons learned in your own program.

The Value and Practice of Medical Screening

Amberleigh Hammond



This workshop is full.


  This presentation will help field and administrative staff better understand the overall value of screening in outdoor programs. The presentation will give screening guidelines, examples, and advice as participants align their medical and psychological screening, program descriptions, student paperwork, program framing, and Essential Eligibility Criteria with current industry standards. We will discuss the predictive value of screening, what purpose it serves, student selection, and how screening fits into the organizations values/ecosystem.



Poster Session
      There are many topics that are better suited for a poster presentation rather than a classroom presentation. Poster sessions will take place during the opening reception of the conference, at which time presenters will be available along side his or her poster to interact with conference-goers and answer questions. Posters will continue to be accessible for the duration of the conference as stand alone presentations.
    October 14, 5–6:30 PM (Wednesday)

new topic icon Green Horns to Gurus; Program Supervision Strategies for Managing and Supporting Field Staff

Chris Benson


  From green horns to gurus, staff have a range of skills and experience, but research has shown that there is not a strong relationship between experience and incident rates. "Risk homeostasis" may be occurring as staff competency and objective hazards of programs increase. To better address this, a model is presented to understand the types of mistakes and biases, as well as strengths and competencies staff have with varying levels of experience, competency, and self-awareness.

new topic icon Lessons from Leaving: Analyzing Student Motivations and Prevention Strategies for Early Dismissals

Graham Ottley

Curt Davidson

  This poster presentation seeks to explore the various motives and rationale behind early dismissals experienced by programmers. Further analysis and exploration of relevant techniques to mitigate early dismissals because of behavioral or motivational reasons will occur. A review of relevant theories and strategies will be explored in this presentation to equip programmers and field instructors with techniques borrowed from the fields of social work, psychology, and behavioral modification to help them mitigate this problem.

new topic icon Preparation for Field Activities in Uncontrolled Environments

Dave Story

Pam Collins

  This field safety process was designed to provide a streamlined and scaleable framework for considering field hazards and devising policies and procedures to prevent and mitigate their impact. It draws upon a wide range of expertise from national and international safety, outdoors, and industry organizations.

Ready for Prime Time? Crisis Training for Traditional and Social Media

Travis Taylor

Karmina Zafiro

  Crises come when you least expect them and the news media won’t wait. Are you prepared to handle aggressive media under pressure in a crisis? This interactive media training session will teach attendees of all experience levels how to better communicate with the media in a crisis. Fineman PR’s media experts will discuss the changing traditional and social media landscape, outline the Dos and Don’ts of media interviews, and conduct "live-fire" interviews to help you learn how to convey key messages effectively in a crisis.

new topic icon Risk Management Metaphors from Baja Road Signs: A Guide to Risk Mindfulness

Eric Boggs

  Research suggests that mindfulness training improves cognitive function and minimizes mind wandering and that enhanced attentional focus may be key to unlocking skills such as risk management. In shifting our framing from "Risk Management to Risk Mindfulness," this poster presentation will use Mexican road signs as metaphors for mindfulness and risk management to help you engage participants and staff in the development of risk mindful habits.

new topic icon Tough Mudder Tragedy: Lessons Learned (So Far)

Jill Penwarden


  In 2013, a participant was fatally injured on a "Walk the Plank" obstacle at the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder event. His family has recently filed a wrongful death suit against Tough Mudder LP, a rescue diver and his employer, the landowner, and an event sponsor. His family claims that the event was understaffed, overcrowded, unreasonably dangerous, and misleadingly marketed. They also claim that event organizers failed to respond quickly enough to the unfolding situation. We will use plaintiffs' claims regarding this incident as examples to discuss risk management and legal concepts including third-party contracting, liability releases, staffing, marketing, indemnity, and insurance.

Virtual Risk Management: Using Online Training Modules to Increase Risk Awareness in University Faculty & Instructors

Angie Moline

  Many natural science faculty (e.g., geology, ecology) take students into a wilderness context on field trips, but do not have adequate risk management training. This appears to be due to a lack of time for wilderness medical/management training rather than neglect. I have developed an online training module that walks faculty through field scenarios, medical issues, and planning considerations. This module is intended to cultivate risk awareness, not substitute for risk management training.


Structured Networking

We will provide topics and facilitate the formation of small discussion groups to help participants connect with others who share similar interests. The primary objectives are to initiate relationships and discussions that may continue during the WRMC and beyond and to share ideas that will help attendees improve their programs.

  October 15, 4:45–6 PM (Thursday)

Structured Networking


Open to all conference attendees.




Closer to the start of the conference, an announcement of this year's topics will be shared. Past topics include:

  • Teen Adventure Programs
  • Trail Crews & Conservation Corps
  • Volunteer Led Programs
  • International Programs
  • New Student Orientation Programs
  • College and University Programs
  • Therapeutic Programs
  • Transportation
  • Secondary Schools & Semesters
  • Diverse Student Populations
  • Adaptive & Accessible Recreation
  • Accreditation & Certification
  • Instructor Hiring, Training & Rentention


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