Outdoor Program

What Will be the Significance of Going ‘Out of Bounds’

July 14, 2011

Shelley Timms, B.A., LL.B., LL.M.
Timshel Services Inc.
Alcohol Risk Management

During the winter season of 2009, there were a number of avalanche tragedies in Western Canada. Most, if not all, of them could have been avoided with the use of common sense and in some cases, proper preparation. However, one tragedy garnered more publicity due to the sequence of events surrounding the incident. A Quebec couple skied under the tape at Kicking Horse Resort, and skied out of bounds. They became lost and were not found until 9 days later and sadly, the wife had died largely due to hypothermia. What happened between the time they skied under the tape and when they were found is now being investigated and will be seen through a microscope as a result of the lawsuit that was filed by the survivor shortly thereafter.

Apparently, after the couple descended the slope they were near the Columbia River, and quickly realized that they were lost. They attempted to follow the river but chose the wrong way which took them farther from help rather than closer. At one point, they marked out “SOS” in the snow which was seen by back country skiers on the second day and reported to the local Search and Rescue Group. This group, like other search and rescue groups is made up of volunteers, and though highly trained, they cannot simply go out and search and rescue without authority from police and the Provincial Emergency Programme. The resort was contacted but there was nothing to indicate that anyone was missing. There is a dispute as to who was to call the RCMP, the person reporting the SOS sighting or the search and rescue group, but the RCMP was not contacted. As a result, no search and rescue was conducted. Read more

Outdoor Recreation Programs: Contract Out or Keep in House?

July 14, 2011

Jim Fitzsimmons
Director of Campus Recreation
University of Nevada, Reno

With just over 20 years in the outdoors industry in both the private sector and college/university setting I have experienced both sides of this equation. The request to research this topic came at the same time my university was making a significant change concerning its outdoor recreation program. The two dovetailed nicely and while many readers may disagree with the findings and the eventual outcome, it is an example to learn from.

For the past decade, the program at UNR was ‘home-grown’ and operated exclusively in-house. Everything from instructors to equipment, permits and transportation was owned and operated by the program. We held commercial permits for rafting, kayaking and climbing. Class offerings included white water guide school, wilderness skills, sea and white water kayaking, rock climbing, mountaineering, nordic and alpine skiing, snow boarding, fly fishing, wilderness first aid, swift water rescue, rafting and level one avalanche certification. All instructors were certified though national organizations and we followed accepted industry standards for all programs. While all courses were offered both for credit and on a non-credit basis, the University did not offer a degree in the discipline of Outdoor Recreation or anything remotely related. Depending upon the semester and course offerings, participation swung between a peak of 1,200 students and a low of 300. In an average year, the program would offer field trips about 25 weekends per year. Read more

Selecting the Best Belay System for your Program

July 14, 2011

Michael Doyle, Assistant Director, Outdoor Recreation
Michael Phaneuf, Assistant Director, Challenge Course
Campus Recreation Services
University of Maryland, College Park

Climbing walls, ropes courses and adventure centers continue to grow in popularity and are more accessible than ever before. They are no longer just found at summer camps, university recreation centers and secluded retreat centers. By the time first year students arrive on your campus, they will most likely have participated in a ropes course as part of a class field trip or climbed a rock wall while on a cruise ship, or even climbed a portable, pop-up structure while attending a minor league baseball game. Today, climbing structures attract different user groups, have different purposes (recreation or education), and are funded and staffed based on user groups and program purpose/mission. One of the most critical decisions to be made when building an adventure facility such as a climbing wall or ropes course is which belay system to use. With the growth of the industry, technological advancements have been made to make climbing and belaying easier on participants and staff alike.
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Adoption of Industry Standards in Outdoor Programs

April 28, 2011

Jim Fitzsimmons
Director, Campus Recreation
University of Nevada, Reno

This article was developed with great assistance from staff and instructors of American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) and American Canoe Association (ACA). The opinions offered in this article are the result of the feedback from people in the field doing the teaching and program development. Most of these professionals work on both sides of the coin – in the private sector and at public education institutions.

Private sector and university outdoors programs have adopted an obvious and necessary co-evolution relationship, with industry standards generally being established by private sector organizations and then being adopted by university programs. Universities can play a key in role in the development of these standards since the research supporting the standard often comes from the academic community.

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April 28, 2011

A Case for Improved Risk Protocols

Mike Colpo
NOLS Instructor

Campus Recreation programs offering outdoor components face a threat far more real and menacing than a crashing economy. This hazard brings stress, chaos, and in extreme cases, death — and it is almost entirely beyond our control. It is a nefarious agent, too, in that many of us have unwittingly served as vectors for transmission of its typically surprising attacks. Those who have dealt with it before know it well; the memory of its effects conjuring images straight out of The Exorcist or Poltergeist. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about the lowly peanut.

Of course, the peanut here can just as easily be replaced by bee stings, gluten, latex, or any item from the growing list of allergens that effect today’s students. Are the immune systems of today’s students less robust, or have our methods of tracking and understanding allergic response mechanisms improved? The debate remains open, with elements of truth scattered liberally on both ends of the spectrum. Regardless of where the answers lie, the truth for Recreation Program Coordinators remains immutable — all programs which offer students educational, recreational, or social programs that could expose them to uncontrolled (or uncontrollable) environments need a coordinated strategy for responding to environmentally introduced allergens.

The best defense against sudden anaphylaxis is the EpiPen. Epi-Pen is an auto-injector that administers epinephrine–and epinephrine is the definitive emergency treatment for severe allergic reactions. Called anaphylaxis, these severe allergic reactions are marked by swelling of the throat or tongue, hives, and trouble breathing. When it strikes, life is at risk. And time is critical, since anaphylaxis can become fatal within minutes if untreated.

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Emergencies in the Outdoor Recreation Setting

April 07, 2011

What Level of Training is Required?

David Patton, Assistant Director, Outdoor Recreation
Wayne Fett, Sr. Associate Director of Recreational Services
Molly Gable, Graduate Assistant, Outdoor Recreation
University of Iowa

Imagine yourself walking through a high alpine meadow in July: beautiful mountains rise up towards postcard blue skies; red, yellow and purple flowers paint the landscape with color as you hike in and out of green pine forests. You cross a stream and splash some glacial melt water in your hat to keep you cool as the afternoon sun beats down on you. Suddenly, one of the students that you are leading falls to ground. What do you do?

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