Friday, April 10, 2015

A Tale of Two Schools - Reflections on Risk Management – Rachel Corbett

Rating: ****

There is never a complete absence of risk, especially where the outdoors are concerned. However, there are ways for us to minimize and/or partially eliminate some potential hazards and obstacles that we could face. This is a thought-provoking article that emphasizes the importance of proper planning, and yet the unpredictable nature of exploration in the outdoors even with careful organization and preparation.

Corbett compares two unfortunate stories in her article. First she describes the horrific events of the St. John’s School Lake Temiskaming Canoe Tragedy that took place in 1978. 12 boys aged 12-14 and one teacher drowned while on a school-sanctioned canoe trip. This was a direct result of many contributing factors including but not limited to: poor physical, medical and emergency training, a lack of experience, poor planning, untested equipment and bad weather. Secondly, Corbett illustrates the story of fourteen grade 10 students from Strathcona Tweedsmuir School who were trapped in an avalanche in Roger’s Pass on an Outdoor Education trip in 2003. Seven students perished, but no one could find fault in the protocol followed, or the preparations made.

The part of this article that struck a chord with me the most was the fact that the one story was about an Outdoor Education class just like ours, and that they “executed a perfect rescue” and yet still seven students perished. It is frightening to think about the possibilities of what seems like a simple trip skiing with your class. This planning-and-risk-management comparative article definitely enlightened me and made me stop to think. You can never be too prepared! It also reminds me that sometimes there are factors that are out of our control when we are in an outdoor environment. However, learning to manage and prepare for these risks the best possible can sometimes help to prevent disasters such as these, or at least remove the “what if I had…?” questions afterwards. This article made me realize the true importance of taking trip planning seriously, even for a small trip such as our end-of-April hiking trip.

This article was highly effective at highlighting the importance of preparation for anything when enjoying the outdoors. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the outdoors as it is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and a very interesting read.

Corbett, Rachel. 'A Tale Of Two Schools – Reflections On Risk Management'. N.p., 2015. Web. Apr. 2015. URL:

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