Dealing with Risk Management

What is Risk or Crisis Management for Camps?

It is to facilitate a plan that will deal with uncertainty.  Every camp faces some element of risk.  The types of activities, programming, and facilities camps use don’t ensure a ‘risk free environment’.  It is hard to believe that any environment anywhere can be completely free of uncertainty and risk.  Every camp should use risk management strategies and ensure a crisis management plan is in place.

In section 18.1 of the Alberta Camping Association’s Standards Manual, the word crisis is defined as an emergency resulting from an event, announcement, disaster or controversial issue affecting a camp.

It goes on to state that a camp can resolve a crisis by taking rational action and conducting clear communications.  That whether the crisis is an even or a disaster the main concern needs to be for the people who are directly involved, that being the campers, their parents and camp staff.

The regulation of risk or crisis management will help identify and asses risk, and allow us to better control risks that could occur during daily operations of camp.  A crisis could be a fire, natural disaster, power outage, theft, harmful accident to camper or staff, or even a death.  With the right crisis management plan, although it will be difficult and there might be a time of closure, you could continue your operations despite of the adversary.

As a camp, your mission is to help people.  The number one rule at camp should be safety and as leaders in the camping industry we must all strive to provide the safest environment for the activities and programming we offer.  No one is having fun when someone gets hurt.

It is also important to have a plan in place in case of a public relations crisis.  The ACA Standards Manual defines a public relations crisis as a situation, which focuses, or could focus, negative public attention on the camp.

We should take the same precautions in regards to a situation, which is defined by the ACA Standards Manual as a state that could lead to the initiation of a lawsuit or loss of public support, which could adversely affect the name of an agency or camp.  Although the chances of a law suit are unlikely, it is still important to have a plan that will help you deal with one.  In turn, this planning will help you avoid one all together.

Thinking about crisis could lessen the damage to your camp and to its reputation should a crisis occur.  Invest the time and money it will take to create a strong risk management plan.

The Alberta Camping Association’s Standards Manual states that Critical Incident Stress Management is a part of a camps crisis management plan.  Examples of incidents in the Standards Manual include:  a missing camper, where the police must be called; a serious bone fracture, involving a hospital visit; a camp intruder; natural disaster; or sudden death.

Here are some tips from that could help you develop a fortified crisis management plan for your camp.  This information was developed by the Nonprofit Risk Management Centre.  If you'd like more information on this topic or a related topic, please use the search function on the navigation bar to the left. Click here.

1.   Formulate a crisis communications team to craft messages and communicate within the company/entity/organization and with public officials, deal with the media and take care of employees from post event until the situation is resolved. Key constituent groups for small businesses might include the vendors, suppliers, the landlord, distribution centers, major clients or customers, and government offices. For a nonprofit organization, the list could include key funders, the organization's parent or umbrella organization, program participants, volunteers and staff. For a public entity, these might include elected officials, appointed officials, community organizations, and leaders of neighboring state and local governments. The official spokesperson need only answer questions from the media that pertain his or her employer's areas of responsibility. Questions outside those parameters should be referred to the spokesperson for the fire or police department, the hospital or other appropriate "expert."

2.   Reach out to key public safety agencies in your community when designing your facility evacuation plan. Determine where the fire or police department is likely to place its staging area and designate that location as the site where staff will congregate after evacuating your building. Many communities also have an office of emergency preparedness that may be able to provide advice about evacuation strategies.

3.   Establish a network of community institutions that you can call on during a crisis. Consider a wide range of organizations that might be key partners during specific types of crises. Don't forget the range of needs you might have, depending on the crisis. For example: supplies, office space, equipment, and expertise.

4.   Keep a comprehensive directory of personnel up-to-date, with copies maintained off site. Be diligent in maintaining emergency contact information for all staff; every time an employee leaves or joins the organization, or undergoes an annual review by a supervisor, update current home addresses and phone, fax, wireless and beeper numbers. With security and privacy issues in mind, consider an online directory that enables each staff member to update personal information without requiring a visit to your personnel department.

5.   Carefully inventory the physical assets needed to continue mission-critical operations, even at vastly reduced levels. Update these databases or spreadsheets during the annual audit or property insurance renewal process, but record major acquisitions as they occur.

6.   Maintain a backup of your computer file server and key databases and financial files. Update the backup at least every week and store a copy off-site or in a fireproof safe. Schedule drills every 30 to 60 days to test the procedure and to determine if you can restore systems from backup tapes.

7.   Store a copy of all insurance policies, vehicle and property titles, vehicle registrations and bank account numbers in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe.

8.   Review emergency and crisis management procedures at least once a year with key personnel. Make it a top priority to create procedures indicating who does what in the event of an emergency with alternates to replace them.

Categories: Camp Resources, Education