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Knowing the Risks

Since 1941 Outward Bound has had policies and procedures to manage and mitigate risk on our programs. Risks posed by traveling in our program areas are controlled and reduced through practices supporting these policies and procedures.

At Outward Bound Canada (OBC), students are deliberately encouraged to take part in activities containing inherent and unfamiliar risks that are not part of their normal life. As an organization our role is to use perceived and real risks as teaching tools to build self confidence, resilience and leadership skills. Our risk management policies and procedures have been devised to minimize accident potential and attain OBC’s overall risk management objectives and are set forth in our National Risk Management Policy.

Managing risk is an integral part of the training and experiential process of Outward Bound and exemplified by the words and actions of each instructor.

Our staff are qualified outdoor leaders with a depth of experience and technical expertise in a variety of wilderness activities. Minimum instructor qualifications ensures that each instructor is certified in wilderness first aid and CPR (as well as Bronze Cross water safety for water-based courses in Ontario), as well as being a skilled and experienced group leader accustomed to working with individuals under stress.

Risk Management involves not only overt precautions to prevent accidents, but also a “what if” attitude toward every experience.

All program operations, that involve hazards or potential harm, are systematically assessed for risk/benefit so that appropriate safeguards can be instituted. A system of “checks and balances” is implemented by trained, qualified and involved staff, by staff monitoring and reporting, Board and Management committees and professional external resources conducting timely reviews and the annual review of any accidents and incidents.

To ensure program quality, our programs are reviewed by an External Safety Committee of international experts every two years. Consequently, Outward Bound is often used as the model against which other outdoor programs are judged and as an expert reviewing agency in the event of incidents and accidents in other programs.

We have been asked to advise other outdoor organizations and our staff have facilitated seminars on risk management for camp directors, students of outdoor education, camping associations, and wilderness risk management conferences.

If you have further questions or concerns that you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact us at info@outwardbound.ca

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