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WRMC 2016 Workshops

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



Below are descriptons of this year's workshops listed alphabetically within each track.

Click here for the WRMC 2016 Schedule.


Featured Speaker



Grant Statham


The Canadian backcountry has changed dramatically over the past 25 years, shaped by popular trends in recreation, the mainstream influence of high risk behavior, and a proliferation of internet and media exposure. Through the 1990’s, the skyrocketing backcountry use corresponded with a rising trend in avalanche fatalities that peaked in 2003 when two separate avalanche accidents killed 14 people within the span of two weeks, including seven tenth grade students on an outdoor education field trip. By the end of that winter, 29 people had been killed in avalanches.

What followed was an intense public scrutiny of the systems used for managing winter alpine recreation and outdoor education in Canada. Grant Statham tells his story of being thrust into the eye of this storm, sprung from a career in mountain guiding to the center of developing public warning systems and risk policy for the federal government. Today, 13 years later, Canada is regarded as a world leader in public avalanche safety and many of the systems developed following 2003 are now used worldwide.



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 participants 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.

Complexities in Intercultural 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. While many lessons from wilderness risk management transfer, many others must be learned. This session will use 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.

Crisis Communication in the Digital Age: The Basics Still Matter

Bruce Palmer

  Learn from NOLS Marketing and Admission Director Bruce Palmer about how to monitor and utilize electronic communication, including the use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other networks. Expect to walk away with an increased understanding of the basics of crisis communication, and how to use the networks to their fullest potential.

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.

Media Masters: Crisis Training for the Spotlight

Travis Taylor

Karmina Zafiro

  Wilderness crises, such as a fatality or serious injury, can quickly spiral out of control and badly damage your organization’s good name. Unfortunately, responders are often left unprepared for the intense glare of the media spotlight. This workshop will provide you with expert insight and proven techniques to respond to media demands and rush to assess accountability. You will learn how and why your outdoors expertise and experience must be reinforced by a heads-up approach.

new topic icon Risk Management and Crisis Response: A Case Study

Catherine Hansen-Stamp

Doug Stevens

  This is a unique opportunity to review a valuable case study involving the death of a minor student and serious injury to another during an adventure travel trip. We will engage the audience in discussing pre and post-incident issues including information exchange, risk and hazard assessment, contractor vetting, and interaction between company staff and subcontractors. Post-incident issues include emergency response, e-media, documentation, communication with subcontractors and students’ families, and the cultural challenges of operating in a distant region. We will also discuss the resulting litigation.

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 preferred practices in the area of trauma mitigation and education.

Small Organization Emergency Response Plans: Where do I Start?

John Kelley


  Through the lens of a small independent school, this presentation will reflect upon the creation of an in-house risk management plan. This presentation will provide others with the tools and resources needed to begin the process of creating a current and user-friendly emergency response plan for their institution.


view workshop schedule




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

new topic icon Administration of Epinephrine in the Backcountry: Evolving Legal Considerations

Nadia Kimmell new speaker icon

Leah Corrigan new speaker icon


  Many states have recently passed laws limiting liability for administering epinephrine to an individual reasonably believed to be suffering from anaphylaxis. These laws will ease restrictions on the use of epinephrine by backcountry field staff, which has been widely believed to expose outdoor professionals (and their employers) to liability. The presenters will discuss the status of the law in the western states and the practical considerations in implementing a protocol for epinephrine administration.

new topic icon Advanced Foot Entrapment Techniques

Nate Ostis



Is your river team ready? Sure you've got throw bags, carabiners, and pulleys in your kit. But is your team ready for a fast and effective response to the life threatening scenario of foot entrapment? There is no time to waste in these scenarios. Successful outcomes are a combination of effective preparation and a boat load of good luck. Is your team leaning to heavily on luck? Come and see the latest techniques for stabilizing an airway and extricating a patient. Distinguish between a heads-up rescue vs. a heads-down recovery. Throw ropes and gain confidence.


new topic icon Climbing Gear Testing: Facts, Myths, and Breakin' Stuff

Garth Tino new speaker icon

Russell Slaugh new speaker icon

  Do you have questions about climbing equipment uses, failures, proper vs. improper use? Do you ever wonder about specific scenarios you have encountered in climbing and wondered about the results that could happen? This this session will be an interactive presentation on the laws of physics and how they interact with and affect climbing gear. This session will be held at the Black Diamond testing center, on their drop-test tower, where we will create scenarios which push equipment to the limit and beyond, showing failures and how to avoid these issues. We will show how and why equipment fails or can fail, and how to mitigate these failures. We will be joined by members of the Black Diamond Quality Control team to answer a multitude of scenarios. See their work in their blog here.

new topic icon "I Can’t Believe They’re Doing That!:" Lessons from the Intersections of Guiding and Outdoor Adventure Education

Joshua Cole

Erika Halm new speaker icon

  While there is an enormous overlap in the activities of commercial guiding and outdoor adventure education, there is very little exchange of risk management practices between the two worlds. We will present selected practices and standards from each sphere within the context of varied missions, risk tolerances, and client profiles. We believe that there is much that these intertwined parts of our industry can learn from one another and will utilize the expertise of our audience to begin the process of integrating these practices into our own programs.

Supporting Struggling Participants: 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 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 The Developing Adolescent Brain with Respect to Education and Safety Management

Steve Creech new speaker icon


  Are you sometimes dumbfounded why an adolescent did something that seemed so obviously risky? In an ever-evolving world of education and neuroscience research, this presentation focuses on understanding developing brains and implications for educators and safety managers. We will explore competing levels of maturity in the brain. By examining research, we will focus on transferring knowledge and scientific research into intentional educational and empowering strategies to create learning opportunities and improved safety management.

new topic icon The Frontier of American Belaying: Changing a Folkcraft to a Science

Ron Funderburke new speaker icon


  The American Alpine Club will demonstrate the history of belaying as a risk management practice in all climbing contexts (recreational, professional, and institutional) using interactive props and discussion. Historically, claims about belay standards and best practices have often been contradictory, and that makes risk management difficult. Instead, attendees will learn to use the Universal Fundamentals of Belaying as a tool to re-evaluate what we think we know about the seminal risk management tool in American climbing.

Tools for Behavioral Crisis in the Remote Setting

Laura McGladrey

Will Marling

  What would you do if you’re in the back country and one of your program participants is demonstrating extreme behaviors? This workshop is designed to build capacity to distinguish between common and extreme behaviors in order to mitigate risk and manage evacuations when necessary. You’ll explore meaningful and evidence-based interventions as well as learning techniques for supporting staff. This is practical and scenario based learning opportunity to gain tangible skills for managing challenging behaviors.

Wilderness Medicine Panel

Tod Schimelpfenig

Greg Moore

David McEvoy

Shana Tarter


  Panelists will offer updates on new topics and trends in wilderness medicine including mosquito-borne diseases, changes in spinal injury management, and psychological first aid. Attendees may submit questions to the panelists for response during the session, or for follow-up by email post session.
        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 Big Decisions in the Field (and Their Legal Implications)

Leslie Arutunian new speaker icon

Reb Gregg

  An earthquake in Nepal, an alleged sexual assault in Panama, suicide ideation in Thailand, a puma encounter in Costa Rica, and an ankle injury in Chile. These aren't a wilderness program nightmare but a bundle of emerging industry challenges faced recently by Wildlands Studies, a program which instructs backcountry undergraduate courses worldwide. Leslie Arutunian, Director, and Reb Gregg, legal counsel, will discuss operations and legal issues around these incidents – including preparation, management, and their outcomes. Wildlands Studies’ learning can become yours.

new topic icon Exploring the Exculpatories

Reb Gregg

  Spoiler alert. This is not a tropical island tour. We will explore, instead, those aspects of the law which relieve you of culpability–blame–for things that go wrong in your operations. Included in our discussions will be your legal duty of care, how it relates to claims of negligence, a relaxing of your duty in certain sports and recreation activities, and avoiding blame, and liability, in your agreements with staff, clients and vendors.

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

Steve Neal

Sam Daume


  Sexual misconduct, vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, crisis response – what do all of these exposures have in common? If not managed properly an occurrence 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 (occurrence) 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 this session, a series of scenarios and guided discussion will explore the complexities of managing exposures and incident response through the lens of an insurance policy.

new topic icon Lawsuits, Legal Issues, and Lessons for the Outdoor Industry

Wilma Gray

Jill Penwarden


  Wilma and Jill will explore how litigation works. Legal theories and issues to be discussed include: who is sued, causes of action, defenses, releases, third party contractors, insurance, jurisdiction, staffing, safety, post incident actions, reasonable care standards, social media, and documents. Lawsuits to be studied include wilderness programs (rafting), international programs (Mount Kilimanjaro), school groups (Urban Pioneer), and challenge courses (Tough Mudder). Participants will play an active role by reviewing and analyzing important considerations for the defense of the wilderness organization.

Medical Screening: Options and Answers

Frances Mock

Seth Hawkins

  This presentation by an attorney and a practicing emergency room physician will address three different approaches to medical screening; legal issues, including what questions you are allowed to ask under the Americans with Disabilities Act and what statements you should include; general strategies for assessing medical risks; specific high risk or common medical conditions; implications on management of medical conditions in the field; and interfacing with healthcare providers during decision making.

new topic icon Risk Management Primer

Tracey Knutson

  Go from wading to swimming in the big risk management primer pool. This will be a session where we set up your knowledge base by working on some of the key concepts (yup – all in the same session) and then we will take those concepts and start you off wading and eventually get you swimming (normal attire OK). You'll apply these concepts to designing a risk management program, understanding what a case structure will look like (so you understand what to collect after an incident that will help you defend your operation), giving thought to your emergency response plans and protocols, understanding the standards that will apply to what you are doing in your program and how they will effect a post-incident inquiry, and dealing with outside media inquiries. We'll put a lot of language on the table, try out various skill sets, and demonstrate that all of the language and skill sets in risk management create a unified field if you can get it all in your brain at once. We are going to cover some distance here so if you are looking for a mellow snooze session, this is not your class!

new topic icon Staffing and Compensation Issues

James Pearson

  This workshop will focus on (1) recent changes in wage and hour regulations and laws; (2) classification of employees vs. independent contractors; (3) employment issues such as interviewing, hiring and terminating employees; and (4) issues relating to volunteers and interns as opposed to paid staff.

Working with Minors: Legal Issues

Catherine Hansen-Stamp


  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 are an organization’s responsibilities considering an evolving “child”? How important is information exchange with the participating minor and his or her parent? Can a child release a program from liability, or assume certain risks? Is your program addressing the reality of potential sexual abuse issues? Share your thoughts in this interactive session as Cathy presents these and other issues in the context of current legal cases.
        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.

new topic icon Incident Tracking Database: Improving Safety through Advanced Data Analytics

Rick Curtis

  Incident data tracking is a critical part of any program’s risk management plan. To effectively manage risk you need to track incidents in a database and uncover trends by utilizing new advances in Business Intelligence (BI) data analytics. Learn how to capture incident data as illustrated by the International Incident Database System and how to implement data analytics with user-friendly tools right from your computer. You’ll learn powerful new approaches to incident data collection and best practices for data analytics.

new topic icon Making Good Programming Decisions in the Face of Media Hype

Chad Olcott new speaker icon

  You’ve spent the last six months researching, scouting, and marketing your new trip to Costa Rica. Everything’s looking great and enrollment is solid – until the headlines are taken over by Zika. Infectious diseases, terrorism, wildfires and flooding – they aren’t just headlines to programs that operate around the country. Should you cancel your trip? Should you push ahead? In short, how do you make rational, defensible programming decisions in the face of dramatic headlines?

new topic icon More than People, Equipment and Environment: The Design of a Risk Assessment Method

Clare Dallat

  Workshop participants will receive a new structured approach for identifying the network of risks/hazards related to activity program design and delivery. The method, called NO-HARMS, is theoretically underpinned by a systems-based model and understanding of accident causation (Rasmussen, 1997). It considers hazards and actors beyond those associated solely with the immediate context of the activity. A key advance offered by NO-HARMS is the ability to identify risks and hazards outside of the activity itself, such as risks related to program design, communications with schools/parents, and activity planning and preparation.

new topic icon Safety Culture: Management Levers that Drive Safety Performance

Jeff Jackson





Safety culture is a large and well established organizational model of safety performance. Research in this field identifies management levers that influence individual safety performance. This presentation looks at the research as it applies to wilderness programs, and isolates findings that can inform management practice and risk management systems. Attendees walk away with a thorough understanding of the factors that influence safety motivation and identify the levers with which to drive safety performance.


new topic icon State of the Field: Using Comparative Risk Management Data to Benchmark your Program

Jim Sibthorp new speaker icon

Lisa Meerts-Brandsma new speaker icon

Shannon Rochelle new speaker icon

Drew Leemon

  Does your organization approach risk management with the same strategies as the rest of the industry? Small groups will discuss how they view risk management for 12 common field hazards and will compare their assumptions with findings from a 2016 industry-wide risk management benchmarking survey conducted by the University of Utah and NOLS. We will discuss the most pressing risk management concerns for 2016, identify changes since 2003, and discuss broader implications for the field.

new topic icon Supporting Students in Programs Designed to Diversify Conservation

Rob Terrynew speaker icon

Millie Jimenez new speaker icon

Megan Kohli new speaker icon

  This session will examine how the National Park Service Academy, a collaborative program between NPS and SCA, has developed a spectrum of program elements and interventions designed to support members from a host of backgrounds currently underrepresented in NPS as they come together to diversify the agency's workforce.

Updates and Overview: Navigating Health, Safety and Security Abroad

Bill Frederick

  The international hazard landscape and the approaches and tools for managing risk are evolving at an ever-increasing pace. This workshop will identify fundamental program components on a continuum in order to tailor risk management strategies to the particulars of a given program. We will also look at hazard hot topics and the new strategies emerging to address them to include prevention, avoidance, and response.

When the Tail Wags The Dog: Recognizing and Avoiding Mission Creep

Steve Smith


  Is your program's mission clearly identified, understood, and referred to by staff at all levels? Does your field staff know and understand your mission more than the people designing programs, writing grants, or sitting on the board? When a new program model is identified, is there a clear process by which that model is vetted against existing mission, safety, and training filters? This presentation will explore the common risk management challenges programs face to innovate new programs without drifting away from their actual mission.


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 Building Intuition for Low Frequency High Consequence Events

Clinton Culp new speaker icon

  Most of our decisions are, at least initially, made intuitively and typically serve us well when dealing with high frequency events. However, there is a problem: intuitions typically do not work well in low frequency/high consequence, non-discretionary time-to-task events. We will look at several traits that may give the expert decision maker an advantage over the novice. Along the way we will design and practice deliberate training techniques that are intended to develop good intuition.

Checklist Manifesto for Outdoor Programs

Al Wright

  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 'checklists' in common adventure activities.

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.

new topic icon High Impact Training Practices: Tools for Socializing Your Training and Leveraging Relationships in Learning

Micah Leinbach new speaker icon

  Drawing from recent research in high-impact training, we will highlight successful ways your programs can use social training techniques to enhance engagement in and retention of training materials for staff. With an emphasis on integrating training into the broader operations of your organization, we hope to support programs in reducing the emphasis on singular "training weeks," instead making training an ongoing–and more effective–process.

Inclusion Practicum

Sydney Clark new speaker icon

Anne Peick new speaker icon

Emily Ledingham

  We want our programs to reflect the diversity of the world around us, but are we ready to manage the emotional risks that come with this diversity? Oftentimes behavior that may result from not feeling included is chalked up to bad behavior or lack of motivation, leaving unaddressed a non-inclusive atmosphere that presents an emotional risk. This scenario-based workshop will present the technical skill and build confidence to manage inclusion incidents and engage teams in inclusion work. You will participate in a formation activity to break down stereotypes and start conversations around diversity. Through scenario work we will practice how to recognize and interrupt microaggressions, and when to deploy allyship action to maintain inclusive course culture.

Rejecting the Binary: Managing Risk for The Queer and Trans Communities

Elyse Rylander

Kira McGieson

  Facilitators from OUT There Adventures will draw from their experience as one of a very small number of programs who lead wilderness expeditions specifically for queer and trans participants. Participants will explore challenges that might face their organization as more queer and trans individuals enter outdoor programs. The workshop will cover risks for the queer and trans communities that your organization may currently be taking and how to manage these risks. In a safe and learning-focused environment, participants will be able to ask questions about how to better support an under served community in outdoor programming.

Training Your Staff to be Risk Managers

Kate Koons new speaker icon

  Learn how to use the limited amount of time you have for staff training to maximize your staff 's alignment with organizational values and make them competent field-based risk managers. Learn how to influence organizational culture and build risk management knowledge specific to your program. We will address the needs of small and large programs.

new topic icon You Know Too Much! Understanding and Mitigating Your Expert Blindspot

Emily Abell new speaker icon

  Staff know much more about the outdoors than their participants. Directors know much more about risk management than their staff. While this knowledge gap keeps you employed, it can also be a liability. In this interactive session, you’ll hear how your expert blindspot can lead you astray, and learn specific design thinking techniques to help you stay on track. In the closing exercise you’ll have a chance to practice locating and busting blindspots yourself.
        view workshop schedule  



Pre-Conference Workshops
    Our selection of pre-conference workshops allow participants to explore specific topics in greater detail with smaller groups. Pre-conference workshops have limited space. You must pre-register in order to attend these workshops.
    October 11-12, 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 and Management textbook and small group exercise manual (sent as pdf file prior to conference.)


Navigating Health, Safety, and Security Abroad

Bill Frederick




  What do international trip leaders need to be able to do, and what skills, understanding, and informational access do they need? This training will look at the ever changing international hazard landscape and the risk management strategies available, and includes 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 reading packets prior to the training.

NOLS Administrative Risk Management Training

Kate Koons new speaker icon

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

NOLS Wilderness Medicine Staff


  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 Format 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 participate in challenging practice scenarios and case studies. The Wilderness First Responder 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 12, 8 AM–5 PM (full day: Wednesday)

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.
    October 12, 8 AM–12 PM (1/2 day: Wednesday)

Parent Phone Call Practice Lab

Jamie O'Donnell





  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 to your own program.

new topic icon Root Cause Analysis: A Technique for Incident Investigation

Mark Vermeal


  Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a structured process designed to help identify not only what and how an event occurred, but also why it happened. The RCA process enables investigators to identify and address the origin of a problem (the “root cause”) as opposed to just symptoms of the problem. Only when investigators are able to determine why an incident occurred will they be able to specify corrective measures that prevent similar future incidents.
    October 12, 1–5 PM (1/2 day: Wednesday)

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

Reb Gregg


  In this interactive session, we will ask attendees to consider several 2015-16 court opinions addressing significant industry legal issues. Participants will consider–and attack or defend–conflicting arguments pertaining to, for example: negligence and the duty of care owed to participants (including minors), inherent risks and assumption of risks, the legal impact of a “release,” disclosure and screening, the relevance of standards or practices (your own or those in the industry), use of independent contractors or volunteers and other issues.

Performing Under Pressure

Deb Ajango






  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.



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 12, 5–6:30 PM (Wednesday)

From the Gecko to the Stag: How to Prioritize and Optimize Your Organization's Insurance Program

Don Pachner

  From the Gecko to the Stag – how to prioritize and optimize your organization's insurance program to balance cost and insurance protection. Most outdoor organization's purchase insurance based on recommendations of a board member or third party insurance agent or consultant. This presentation will help you analyze, prioritize and optimize your organization's insurance program/policies from the standpoint of your board and administrator priorities.

new topic icon Preparing Administrative Staff to Manage Programs in the Field: A Team Approach

Kate Farthing

Lindsay Venable new speaker icon


  Broadreach manages over 1,000 students yearly in 39 different countries with 22 full time staff at headquarters. In an industry where office staff have diverse roles and responsibilities that change constantly, our goal to consider the subtle and overt processes for solidifying a team at headquarters that can manage a variety of scenarios in the field.

new topic icon Search and Rescue Victims: Who are They and What We Can do to Reduce the Risk

Daniel Hadley new speaker icon

  Requiring assistance from Search and Rescue (SAR) is an undesirable outcome of a wilderness outing. Review the latest research about SAR victims and how we can create better messaging from it - Does solo wilderness travel increase risk for backcountry accidents?

new topic icon What Does the Law Require of Me?: How to Determine Your Legal Duties

Michael Blasie new speaker icon

  Wilderness activities involve an inherent amount of risk and lack of control over the environment. But what does the law require of you? Using the law of negligence as a case study, this presentation explains where your legal duties come from, how you can understand them, and preventative steps you can take to best ensure you comply.


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 13, 4:45–6:15 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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