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WRMC 2013 Workshops

The WRMC balances new and evolving topics and speakers with the funadmentals 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     Sector Specific Issues
    Pre-conference and Poster Sessions     Coaching and Structured Networking


Featured Speakers


John Gans


Education without Experience: How Does it Work?

Can you teach judgment and risk management lessons to others without relying on their mistakes as an experience base? The stakes are high when it comes to the well being of people in wilderness settings, and we like to think that we can pass on wisdom without repeated serious results. John Gans will discuss why some lessons stick while others do not, and how as an industry we can share our stories to help make every outdoor experience a better one.



Renny Jackson


A Perspective on the Incredible Changes in Mountain Rescue

Renny Jackson will discuss the evolution of Alpine Search and Rescue in Grand Teton and Denali National Parks – how it has changed, what is different, and how we try to manage the risk that is involved.



Laurence Gonzales


Intelligent Mistakes: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things

Based on Deep Survival, this talk explores how the natural functioning of the brain, even when it's working normally, can lead us into systematic errors. These errors can be trivial (can't find my keys right under my nose) to fatal or near-fatal (falling off a cliff).




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.

new topic icon The Benefits of an External Risk Management Review

John Fair

  In response to a critical incident, EPIC Adventures of Eastern Washington University implemented periodic external risk management reviews. This presentation will highlight the process of an external risk management review from inception to completion, and will focus on the changes in culture and practices that were results of the process.

Crisis Communication in the Digital Age: The Basics Still Matter

Bruce Palmer

  Learn from NOLS Marketing and Admissions 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.

Getting Beyond Operator Error: Using Systems to Analyze Accidents

Jeff Jackson



  The emerging systems based approach to risk management planning has altered the way we conceive, organize and implement risk systems. Many high risk industries have incorporated systems based risk management to analyze and understand accidents beyond the default causes of inherent risk and operator error. This workshop provides a systems approach to looking beyond operator error and understanding the latent and organizational causes of accidents. This analysis framework can be applied to critical and non-critical events, and to different program or organizational structures.

Performing Under Pressure

Deb Ajango

  This workshop will provide audience members with an understanding of how people tend to react, both cognitively and behaviorally, in stressful situations. Additionally, by using well-documented research and case studies, the presenter will explore factors that can influence one's response. The presenter will share ideas offered gathered during a pre-conference workshop and will offer suggestions on how one might modify his or her staff trainings and/or organizational emergency action plan so that desired behaviors are more likely.

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 critical

new topic icon This is Not JUST A Drill!

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 expose 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.
        view workshop schedule  



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

Accidents in Outdoor Pursuits: Assessment and Prevention Approaches

Jed Williamson

  Accidents happen in outdoor pursuits and will continue to do so because risk is always involved. Learning how to try different approaches to prevent life-threatening or disabling injuries is a skill we all seek to hone. Through this workshop, participants will learn about how the categories in the Meyer/Williamson Accident Matrix can be used to allow both staff and participants look at each activity and determine where potential problems might arise, to analyze incidents within their own program, and to consider other ways to design training that could reduce serious field incidents. In this workshop a combination of explaining the matrix, examining a few significant case studies, and small group discussion to share individual program concerns and how this instrument could be used as a risk analysis method.

Bear Habitat Field Practices

Katie Baum Mettenbrink

  Traveling in either black or brown bear country is a unique opportunity and a complex risk management issue. Serious bear encounters in outdoor programs are rare, but potential consequences are severe and thoughtful practices around bear safety are essential. This workshop will touch on lessons learned at NOLS, will outline the critical questions to be answered in critiquing your practices, and will offer valuable tools for both teaching bear practices and making thoughtful decisions in the field.

new topic icon Managing Challenging Mental Health and Behavioral Issues in the Field

Cynthia Stevens new speaker icon

  This workshop will focus on the practical understanding necessary to recognize and manage mental health and behavioral conditions in the field. Using her experience as the psychiatric and psychological consultant for NOLS, Dr. Stevens, will address common mental health disorders in prospective students, factors that may help identify at risk students/applicants, psychotropic medications, adolescent behavior and instructor responses to inappropriate behavior.

new topic icon "I'm not like the others": 3 Activities to Minimize the Emotional Risk of Exclusion

Aparna Ragajopal-Durbin new speaker icon

Pam Rosal new speaker icon

  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? What other risk management issues arise or don’t arise when we broaden our participant body? Along with diversity come varying expectations, abilities, needs, and perceptions. How can our programs provide an experience that best honors this diversity while maintaining positive outcomes? This workshop will help you train your staff to conduct three activities that set up an inclusive environment in your program.

Medical Topics: Old, New, and Controversial

David Johnson, MD

  This workshop will review some important old, new, and ongoing controversial/confusing medical topics relevant to work in remote areas. Come prepared to share your thoughts and ask questions.

new topic icon Risk Managing a Wilderness Fast: Why, When and How to Facilitate a Fast in the Backcountry

Paul Stonehouse new speaker icon

  A wide variety of programs within outdoor adventure education (OAE) utilize fasting within their courses. Yet, little, within the OAE literature, has been written on the fast. This is problematic, since the AEE's accreditation standards (7.06) require deliberate action with regard to fasting. Thus, this presentation addresses: the purposes of a fast; ethical considerations for a fast; the physiology of wilderness fasting; risk management implications for backcountry fasting; and pedagogical strategies for a meaningful fast.

SAR Panel Discussion

John Gookin

Will Smith, MD new speaker icon

Shana Tarter, facilitator


  Many outdoor programs rely on external emergency response systems as the backbone of their field emergency response plan. Do your instructors actually know what happens when they make that call, use their personal locator beacon, or set off an EPIRB? Do you? This panel discussion will gather together experts from the SAR community to offer their thoughts. In addition to questions crafted by the moderator, there will be opportunity for you to pose questions to the panelists about search and rescue operations and pre-planning.
        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.

Discovery and Depositions Can Be Fun

Wilma Gray

  Discovery is the critical part of every civil lawsuit. We will cover how your program can assist attorneys to respond to written discovery, anticipating electronic discovery requests, and to prepare for a deposition. Participants will be provided an opportunity to work on some sample written discovery responses using your own program experience. We will discuss the legal language used in the discovery in order to learn what is appropriate to be written and how that can be twisted/interpreted by lawyers on the other side. We will cover what is "e-discovery" and how to be prepared for invasive discovery requests for electronically stored documents. We will cover what is a deposition and the rules for depositions. Volunteers will be selected to test their abilities to answer deposition questions against skilled deposition takers. The audience will then discuss and critique both. Note: This session can be attended as a standalone or as a preview of what happens before trial and how to prepare for trial. It is intended to build up to Reb Gregg’s and Catherine Hansen-Stamps’ Mock Trial “My Feet are Cold”

new topic icon Employment, Staffing, Compensation and Other Legal Stuff

James Pearson new speaker icon

  This workshop will focus upon (1) employment issues such as interviewing, hiring and terminating employees; (2) classification of employees vs. independent contractors; (3) wage and hour considerations particularly for employees who are potentially on duty 24-7; (4) issues relating to volunteers and interns as opposed to paid staff; and (5) selected OSHA issues.

The Law Says "Yes" to Risk

Reb Gregg

  Over the past 20 years the Law has increasingly acknowledged the value of risk to personal development and a healthy society and accordingly has modified the duty of care owed in certain activities. We will examine this and other trends in those areas of law most fundamental to our operations: duty of care, defenses to claims of negligence (inherency and assumption of risks and releases of claims), protection from claims of minors, and statutes which immunize certain service providers.

Managing Legal Issues After a Serious Incident: What to Do, What to Say

Frances Mock

  Many organizations have considered the operational issues related to a serious incident. This presentation explores the legal issues. What evidence should you collect and how do you do that? What process should you use when taking witness statements? What should you know when dealing with land managers, state agencies, and law enforcement? How much of what you collect and record will be available to someone who sues you? This presentation answers these questions and provides tips on the legal issues related to a serious incident.

"My Feet Are Cold" Mock Trial

Reb Gregg

Catherine Hansen-Stamp

  The Sedro Woolley Players (Tod Schimelpfenig as staff, Molly Hampton as student, and Jed Williamson as expert) return with their 1994 WRMC conference courtroom drama of a summer backpacking course gone wobbly when it encounters a snow storm. Frostbite provokes a law suit and issues of disclosure, staff training and competencies, medical treatment, and emergency procedures. Reb Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp will examine lthese witnesses and lead a discussion of the issues.

Participant Agreement: Is it Really Better than the Paper it's Written on?

Tony Clapp

  Is the participant agreeement worth the paper that it is written on? Often times participants sign a waiver and release – also known as a participant agreement – believing that it is not worth the paper that it is written on and that it is merely a formality before being allowed to participate in the program/activity. Participant agreements are generally the first line of defense in a claim and are likely one of the most important documents that governs the relationship between the participant and the program. Learn what creates an effective release and how releases are treated by the courts. We will utilize decisions from actual reported cases for the analysis.

"Standards in the Industry": What Does this Phrase really Mean and How do Standards Impact Your Programs and Practices?

Tracey Knutson

  "Standards in the Recreation Industry” – what does that mean and how does it affect your operation? In this session we want to understand the meaning and scope of the oft used phrase “standards in the industry.” We know that “standards of care” are used in judging liabilities and that standards of care are often derived from “standards of practice,” but do you understand these phrases and how they affect your business? Operators and administrators are constantly making decisions on perceived or so-called “standards” in the recreation industry – but how supportable are these standards and the decisions that derive from them? We’ll start with a broad idea of what a “standard” is and work our way down to specific examples of standards and how they affect your practices, your liabilities, and the implementation of your risk management processes. We’ll look at who is promulgating standards, why, the legal impacts of standards, and whether the standards are local, regional, or national. We want to understand whether standards are weapons that can be used against you or shields that can save you and how/why you need to incorporate them into your risk management planning. At this critical time in the recreation industry – where the tension between business sustainability and potential liabilities can be the deciding factor in a business’s health or demise – operators and administrators need to be conversant in and aware of how standards impact the industry.
        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 Adapt-Ability: Working with People with Disabilities in an Adventure Setting

Becky Van Horsen new speaker icon

Eric Bonin new speaker icon

Janine Donald new speaker icon

  People with disabilities are the fastest growing group in the U.S. today. The outdoor industry must understand how to serve this population in order to meet the needs of future clients. Our presentation will include a short disability awareness training, a discussion about how you can use creativity to make your programs accessible, and will delve into the barriers that people with disabilities and outfitters face when attempting to join/create adaptive adventure trips.

new topic icon Bloodborne and Other Pathogens in the Backcountry

Steve Neal

David Johnson, MD

  Many outdoor adventure field staff, as a condition of employment, are expected to perform as medical first responders in the event of a medical emergency. These employees should be considered at risk for an “Occupational Exposure” to bodily fluids. This session looks at the Center for Disease Control guidelines, and OSHA Standards related to Occupational Exposures. We will explore the importance of understanding the employers responsibilities related to exposure control practices, including having clear post-exposure follow-up planning, training, and field protocols. We will also examine respiratory and contact exposures, and vector-borne illnesses and diseases that may threaten both staff and students. Participants in this session will leave with information, tools and templates to assist them in understanding and implementing effective exposure control planning and practices.

new topic icon Contracting with Third Parties

Catherine Hansen-Stamp

Todd Duncan new speaker icon

Justin Talbot

  In this session, we will approach contracting with outside organizations from both a legal and program perspective. We will highlight, among other things, how screening, clarifying respective responsibilities and liabilities in a written contract, informed negotiation, and importantly, staff ‘role’ training drive more thoughtful and intentional relationships with partners and contractors. Arrangements discussed include an organization sub-contracting a portion of programming, teaming up on a mutual services arrangement, and facilities use or rental. Attendees will also engage with an interactive case study.

How Managing Risk for Military Veterans will Improve Your Whole Program

Stacy Bare

Kevin Heiner

Jarrod Ball


  Over 2 million veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are back in the United States; many have the skills, leadership, and work ethic you want in your programs. Learn how preparing a risk management plan that incorporates dealing with common veteran issues like TBI, Post Traumatic Stress, Physical Adaptation, and lowered aversion to risk will improve your entire program.

new topic icon Mission Creep: When the Tail Wags the Dog

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.

new topic icon Social Media’s Heuristic Trap and the Role of Digital Immigrants in Teaching Risk Management to Digital Natives

Jerry Isaak


  The current generation (Millennial – born between 1982-2001) of outdoor adventure/education students is different than any previous generation because of the influence of digital and online media. The rise of online communities and social identity, combined with the proliferation of new technology, such as helmet cams and live twitter feeds, appears to require a shift in the way outdoor educators approach the instruction of the topics of risk management and decision making. This workshop will attempt to clearly define the influence of social media and technology on risk taking/decision making and will seek solutions to the challenge of a possible digital divide between digital natives (students) and immigrants (instructors).

What You Need to Know when Applying for or Renewing Insurance

Donald Pachner new speaker icon

  A sophisticated practical guide to the legal and risk management considerations involved in assessing insurance needs, selecting an insurance agent, obtaining insurance proposals for new insurance programs or insurance renewals, and finalizing an insurance program. This workshop, for new and experienced program managers and administrators, includes an overview of current trends and common problematic insurance issues that arise after a policy is issued. It is geared to both for-profit and not-for-profit outdoor recreation, outdoor education, and social service organizations.
        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 Central Gulley Avalanche, a Case Study: How Good Intentions Slide You Straight To Hell

Thom Pollard new speaker icon

Will White

  Central Gulley Avalanche: A Case Study: On January 17, 2013 on Mount Washington in New Hampshire there was an avalanche that involved a group of twelve climbers, one who was the Emmy winning filmmaker, Thom Pollard. The climbers where doing a fundraising climb. What were the individual and team decisions that led to this incident? This will be an interactive presentation that will include film of the climb as well as leadership and decision analysis.

new topic icon 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 Keeping Field Staff Fresh: A Model for Ongoing Training

Rebecca Bear

Jeremy Oyen

  Training part-time and seasonal staff can pose a challenge to the ongoing program and risk management needs of your organization. REI Outdoor School will share techniques from their training program, utilizing a variety of field, on-line, self-study, and mentorship to enhance the culture of risk management and the comfort level for field and administrative staff. Come prepared to share your creative tools for non-field based training opportunities.

Stupidity Explored: Mindful Leadership Amplified

Lester Zook

  "Idiots!" Many, no doubt, have drawn this conclusion after seeing some disaster story or insane YouTube video. But what is stupidity? What does research say about stupid behavior? Can it be predicted beforehand, and thus maybe prevented? How might practicing mindful leadership help us to know stupid when we see it, and possibly avoid stupid before it happens? How does mindful leadership synthesize with our understandings of experiential learning? This workshop will explore these questions through content presentation, story-telling, group-sharing, and fashioning of personal and programmatic applications.

Three Plug and Play Staff Training Activities

Shana Tarter

  This workshop will provide you with three staff training activities you can utilize during annual staff trainings, periodic staff meetings, or potentially during course briefings. The activities will focus on values clarification, change blindness, and reverse planning from the risk management perspective. Each activity is designed to take approximately 30-45 minutes and each is independent of one another. In addition to describing and/or demonstrating the activities, we will review tips on effective activity facilitation.

Training to Failure and Other Unlikely and Highly Effective Training Strategies

Jeff Jackson

  The realities of accelerated timelines and compressed training requires turning traditional staff training on its head. A focus on non-normal, training to failure, testing and sensemaking are uncommon, unlikely, and proven effective in building competency fast. This workshop is based on last year’s ‘Accelerated Training’, but focusses on applying a-typical training strategies.

Where Are We Now? 20 Years of Decision Making

Brendan Madden

Tod Schimelpfenig

  Risk management is dependent upon real people making decisions in real time. Our understanding of human decision making, and how administrators can influence it, has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. This presentation will explore the lessons learned over the lifespan of the WRMC, and examine the state-of-the-art in the application of decision-making theory. We will show how to use an understanding of judgment and decision making to make vital improvements in the staff-training, mentoring, and debriefing components of your risk management system.
        view workshops schedule  



Sector Specific Issues
      Sector specific issues are core and emerging concepts presented to address the unique needs of international, higher education, secondary school, and therapeutic wilderness programs.

Chance and Randomness: The Complications of Managing Incidents Overseas

Gennifre Hartman

Aaron Slosberg

Jennifer Royall

  Program variables change significantly in international settings; as does emergency pre-planning, incident management, and crisis response. Limited or undeveloped medical resources, unreliable communication and transportation present programmatic challenges requiring development of best practices in risk management. Using international case studies, we will analyze real scenarios to help your program understand and manage field incidents overseas. From the Amazon rainforest to the Himalayas, educate your program about international risks and rewards.

new topic icon College, University, and Municipality Risk Management Today

Jeanette Stawski new speaker icon

Tim Moore new speaker icon


  The profession of outdoor recreation and education is rapidly changing and it is an exciting time to be involved as a professional working in this industry. Our industry continues to grow and change norms of being and furthering what it means to be an expert. In this session, we will engage in a dialog regarding the industry of outdoor recreation and education related to colleges, university, and municipalities utilizing current information, insight, and action steps.

Higher Expectations: The Professionalizing of International Trip Leading

Bill Frederick

  The bar has been raised on professional expectations of programs taking students’ abroad. This presentation will review what we need to be able to do and the skills, understanding and information access that we need in order to do it. Emphasis will be on designing institutional strategy for info acquisition, communications, training staff & students in non-specific problem solving, utilizing destination resources as well as home institution infrastructure.

new topic icon Incident Trends in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare: What do They Mean to Me?

Stephen Javorski new speaker icon

  This workshop will present incident, illness, runaway, and physical restraint rate trends in OBHIC member programs since 2001; outline relationships between events and time of day, activity, weather, and time in program; contextualize OBH incident trends in comparison to in-patient and similar recreational activities; and introduce OBHIC’s online data collection project. Participants will explore how this knowledge can inform their practice as a front line staff, program manager, or private practitioner of through experientials.
        veiw 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.
    September 28-30, 8 AM - 5 PM (3 days: Sat-Mon)

WFR Recertification

Gates Richards

Erica Linnell


  This three day scenario-based course is designed as review and practice of evacuation and decision making guidelines. It also provides wilderness medicine practitioners with current updates in the wilderness medicine field. This course may be used to recertify Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and Wilderness EMT (wilderness portion only) certifications. You must possess a current WFR certification of at least 72 hours in order to recertify through this course.
    September 29-30, 8 AM - 5 PM (2 days: Sun-Mon)

Effective Outdoor Program Design and Management

Paul Nicolazzo

John Fair



This two day workshop examines the complex relationships surrounding outdoor program design & management from both the field instructor and program administration perspectives using digital presentations, interactive discussion, video, and small group activities that let you see your program and trips in a new light. The overarching goal of the workshop is to introduce a comprehensive management system using clear operational language and concepts that you can immediately apply in your own organization.

Download pdf for more information.


Inclusion and Cultural Competency for the Outdoor Professional
Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin

Pam Rosal



We want experiential education to reflect the diversity of the world around us, but are we prepared to create a culture that welcomes everyone? What implications does cultural competency have on risk management? As we expand our programs to reach a wider audience—women, people of color, veterans, Baby Boomers, LGBTQ community members, global citizens, etc.—we need to be ready to provide this audience with a positive experience. This workshop will help you (1) foster an inclusive environment in your workplace, both with a diverse participant group and colleagues; (2) teach your participants to do the same;(3) improve risk management throughout your program; and (4) better respond to inclusion-related incidents. 2013 INCLUSION BRIEFING GUIDE (pdf)


Navigating Health, Safety, Security, and Risk Management Abroad
Bill Frederick


  International programming often involves flipping the formula for low actual risk/high perceived risk to high actual risk/low perceived risk. This workshop will cover what you need to be able to do in regards to health, safety, security and risk management abroad and the associated skills, knowledge, and information access that you need to inform your critical thinking for prevention of and response.

NOLS Risk Management Training

Dave Yacubian

Shana Tarter

Jaime Musnicki


  Using lecture, discussion, exercises, and hands-on scenarios, this 2-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.

River Rescue Certification

KC Bess

Rescue3 International

Mad River Boat Trips


  A DYNAMIC fast moving course specifically written and designed for professional river guides, private boaters, and kayakers. Basic river skills are a prerequisite. Emphasis is on identifying hazards, thinking through rescues, and on RESCUE itself, both for your self and others. As a boater or instructor, this is the class you’ll want to help you stay safe and know what to do if something goes wrong.
NOTE: Students will need to provide their own personal river gear (helmet, pfd, wet or dry suit, river shoes) and lunch/snacks.
Course will be taught in the Bridger Teton National Forest, on the Snake, Hoback, or Gros Ventre Rivers depending on water flows that time of year.
    September 29, 8 AM - 5 PM (1 day: Sunday)

Improvised Rock Rescue

Exum Mountain Guides

University of Utah's Center for Remote Rescue


*additional $15 required on site if moved indoors because of weather

  This one day clinic is designed to give recreational and professional climbers, at a wide range of ability and skill level, the tools they need to quickly and competenly perform an improvised rescue of an injured patient. There will be a variety of technical skills stations to both learn and practice the components of an improvised rescue in the vertical environment. These skills will be reinforced through the use of scenarios. This clinic will be held outside at a cliff close to the conference site in Grand Teton National Park, and will be taught by technical rescue experts from Exum Mountain Guides and The University of Utah’s Center for Remote Rescue Training.
    September 30, 8 AM - 12 PM (1/2 day: Monday)

A Discussion on Volunteer Leader Risk Management
Alex Kosseff

Melanie Mac Innis

Catherine Hansen-Stamp



As risk management in professionally led outdoor programs continues to improve, how do volunteer based programs fit in? As leader certification increases, how are volunteers trained? What should expectations be for volunteers working with youth? How do we pay for it all? With a focus on small-group discussions, the topics will be adjusted to fit the interests of participants. Catherine Hansen-Stamp will assist with legal issues. Building on 8 years of related WRMC sessions, we’ll explore next steps for volunteer programs. Click her for more information.


Performing Under Pressure

Deb Ajango


  This workshop will provide audience members with an understanding of how people tend to react, both cognitively and behaviorally, in stressful situations. By using research and a variety of case studies, the presenter will explore factors that can influence one's response in an emergency. 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. Following the didactic portion of this presentation, audience members will be given time and guidance so that they can create checklists, scenarios, and trainings that then can be used to improve field performance during a crisis. The workshop will end with participants sharing their ideas.
    September 30, 1 - 5 PM (1/2 day: Monday)

And the Winner is…(?) Hot Issues, Hot Cases
Catherine Hansen-Stamp

Reb Gregg


  In this interactive session, we will ask attendees to consider 4 or 5 2012-13 court opinions addressing significant legal issues in the industry. Participants will act as plaintiffs or defendants to urge their position on cases, explore settlement negotiations and discuss issues, including: the duty of care owed to participants, inherent risks and assumption of risks, releases of liability, when the written or spoken word can create problems and issues involving protection from claims of minors.

Parent Phone Call Lab
Katie Baum Mettenbrink


  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.

Risk Management in Wilderness Therapy: Critical Intersections of Research and Practice

Stephen Javorski


  Wilderness Therapy providers are often asked: (1) Can you keep your clients safe? (2) Does your program really work? (3) How can I identify exceptional programs? And (4) Is your program worth the expense? Workshop participants will learn how current risk management analysis, outcomes research, and best practices produced by OBHIC and TAPG can address these questions, and explore implications of this information for policies, procedures, and negligence exposure within their own programs.
Poster Sessions
    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.

Backcountry Lightning Risk Management

John Gookin

  No place outdoors is safe from lightning. Lightning is an objective hazard. Your behavior can reduce the risk of that hazard harming you. Learn about terrain safety hazards, ways to reduce lightening risk in the backcountry, how lightning hurts us, and first aid for lightning victims.

Incident Data Project

Drew Leemon

  This poster is an analysis of incident data that was submitted to the Adventure Program Incident Data Reporting Project and compiled for the WRMC in 2008. This is not a comprehensive research paper, but is simply a way to display the incident data that was voluntarily submitted by interested parties. The data are presented in tables and charts with only brief narrative discussion; the tables and charts should speak for themselves.

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.



Coaching Sessions

Often a one-on-one coaching experience can lead to personal professional development or learning that can catapult a program forward. WRMC attendees have the option to sign up for individual coaching sessions which will take place during the conference. Our goal is to help give attendees more focused time on a given question, or some coaching on how to implement change in your organization based on things that you have learned during the conference. Sessions are $40, offered at a significantly discounted rate. Proceeds will support the WRMC scholarship fund. The coaching sessions will be offered during WRMC workshops and are 40 min in length. Be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity

  October 1-2, 8 AM - 5 PM (Tues-Wed)

Coaching Sessions


How to register:
1. Register online or call 307-335-2222 to register over the phone.
2. WRMC staff will contact you to sign up for a specific conference time slot.



  • Option A: Sign up for a coaching session with a legal professional who is presenting at the WRMC. Topics you might ask to cover:
    Review your contract provisions with contractors
    • Review your participant agreement
    • Review your protocol for post-incident response
  • Option B: Sign up for a coaching session with a risk management professional who is presenting at the WRMC. Topics you might ask to cover:
    • Discuss your staff training priorities and strategies
    • Review your emergency response pla
    • Review your essential eligibility requirements
  • Option C: Sign up for a coaching session with professional development coach Sylvia Dresser. Potential topics include:
    • Make a plan for what’s next in your career
    • Make a plan for developing your leadership skills
    • Make a plan for retirement – when to retire, and what to do after you retire
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 1, 4:45 - 6 PM (Tuesday)

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
  • Therapeutic Programs
  • Transportation
  • Secondary Schools & Semesters
  • Diverse Student Populations
  • Adaptive & Accessible Recreation
  • Accredidation & Certification
  • Instructor Hiring, Training & Rentention


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