The purpose of this document is to guide organizations in reviewing their risk management procedures and
practices, specific to eight risk domains as well as several general categories. Organizations
undergoing this self-assessment are expected to better be able to understand, anticipate, manage and
respond to risks encountered by their program.
This self-assessment is one of four self-assessments designed to be used together to complete the
self-assessment process. The other three self-assessments cover standard and laws, risk management
instruments and COVID-19 considerations.
The self-assessment is intended to be used by outdoor education, outdoor recreation, adventure based,
travel, and experiential education programs, and organizations operating in rural and remote locations.
The criteria listed here emphasize outdoor activities. Other experiential programming, such as home
stays and urban cultural explorations, are covered in less substantial detail.
No taxonomical model perfectly fits its subject, and these outdoor risk management criteria are no
exception. Other valid criteria sets exist. Regardless of the model used: good judgment, critical
thinking, and appropriate modifications for the unique circumstances of any organization using the
criteria should always be employed.
This document is fundamentally a checklist. Users, however, should avoid “checklist culture” that defers
independent thinking to rotely following lists; appropriate risk management involves staying alert and
proactive, using creativity, anticipating the unexpected, and recognizing that risk managers cannot be
aware of or control all factors leading to incidents, and so should act accordingly.
The criteria noted here do not prescribe specific methods for meeting those criteria. Those methods may
vary based on a number of parameters, including activities, locations, and populations. However, the
intent of the assessment criteria is to outline focus areas for the organization.
Further information and context regarding the criteria enumerated here are available through training,
risk management review (safety audit) or similar consultations, and additional written materials, and
should be sought out as needed.
Meeting the criteria documented in this self-assessment does not eliminate all risks. The selfassessment
tools are not to be relied upon as a sole source of best practice information.
Acknowledgements, Limitations, and Disclaimer
The development of the assessment criteria outlined here has been informed by leaders in the outdoor
education and standards-setting fields, including the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, the
British Standards Institution, the Association for Experiential Education, the Boojum Institute, Outward
Bound, SETLA, and the Association for Challenge Course Technology. Viristar thanks these and other
organizations for their leadership in the ongoing development of quality outdoor programs.
IMPORTANT: Disclaimer of Liability
Persons who use this document and the assessment criteria therein do so at their own risk. Misuse or
improper interpretation of this document and the incorporated criteria can result in serious injury,
property damage, or death. Accidents may occur even if the criteria are met. Viristar LLC denies any
legal responsibility to any persons or entities for personal injury, death, or property loss in any way
related to the use of, or failure to use, such criteria, including a claim arising out of a deficiency
establishment or promulgation or publication, or a failure to articulate other criteria. In documenting
and distributing these criteria, Viristar LLC does not intend to create legal duties, for itself or for
who would use the criteria, which would otherwise not exist.